Prior to our game against Everton just a fortnight ago I wrote in my preview that, although we were pointless at the time, I would be more than happy if we could amass eight points from the following four difficult fixtures to bring our average up to a point a game. With away games at Everton and Brighton, and home games against Chelsea and Manchester United that would be a difficult task, especially considering our performances in our opening four matches. Nevertheless, we are half way to my “target”, and based upon what I’ve witnessed in the past two games, I am confident that we can reach eight points from eight games. We just need a win and a draw from this game at home to the Red Devils, and the trip to the South Coast to face the Seagulls next Friday. Hopefully we can start with a win this weekend.
A game against Manchester United is always something special. Like them or loathe them, they have been the most successful club in England in the history of the game. They have won the league 20 times, as well as 12 FA Cup wins and various other honours including three wins in the European Cup / Champions League. They are the biggest club in England and the third biggest in the world in terms of revenue.
Of course all West Ham fans fondly remember the final game at the Boleyn just over two years ago, where we followed the script and came from behind to win the game 3-2. Despite Manchester United’s success over the years their record against us on our ground is not the best. Other “big” clubs have visited us on a similar number of occasions in history and have beaten us more times than we have beaten them. But our record against United bucks the trend and we have more wins against them than they do against us on our home turf.
I’ve written previously about the changes in personnel at football clubs, especially our own in recent times. Of the fourteen West Ham players involved on that historic night in May 2016, only Antonio (who played at right back), Noble, and Obiang (who came on as an 84th minute substitute) were on the pitch last Sunday against Chelsea. Randolph, Kouyate, Payet, Sakho, Tomkins, and Valencia have left the club, Reid, Carroll, and Lanzini have long-term injuries, and Ogbonna and Cresswell were on the bench. It’s funny how the term bench has survived; these days players sit back on comfortable padded (and heated?) seats whilst awaiting the call to enter the fray.
I’m not sure how much attention we need to pay to the supposed behind the scenes unrest at United, especially the apparent issues between Pogba and Mourinho, but in many ways they don’t seem to be a happy bunch. Based on what I’ve seen so far they are nowhere near the level of Manchester City, Liverpool or Chelsea, or perhaps even our North London neighbours, Arsenal or Tottenham, and given our battling performance against the blues from West London last weekend I am hopeful that we can go one better in this game.
They have won half of their six games so far, losing on their travels at Brighton, and a hefty home defeat to Tottenham. Last week they drew 1-1 with newly-promoted Wolves, so their ten points sees them sitting in seventh place, two points behind the aforementioned North London duo, but already eight points adrift of the top of the table.
Those people who bet on West Ham to win or draw against Chelsea were in profit, and you would be equally successful this weekend with the same bet, if one of those two results happen. The bookmakers are not as generous with their odds on us beating United as they were against Chelsea, with around 10/3 the going rate, and 12/5 for a draw. I think I’ll just stick with the win for this one, as I’m confident we will pick up the three points to heap more misery on the face of the opposition manager, and even more so if Arnie has recovered from his knee injury. I’m not expecting 8-0, but a good performance, and any kind of win would be good. 3-2 again?