Premier League | Old Trafford | Sat 21 Dec | 3pm
“The end of the world!”… or a slight shrug of the shoulders.
Poor form. Injured players. Lowly league position. “You’re getting sacked in the morning” on the lips of your own fans. David Moyes and Sam Allardyce have much in common this weekend.
What they certainly don’t have in common is the fallout from Saturday's result.
MAN UNITED FORM
- Stoke 0-2 Man Utd (LC)
- Aston Villa 0-3 Man Utd (Prem)
- Man Utd 1-0 Shakhtar (CL)
- Man Utd 0-1 N'castle (Prem)
- Man Utd 0-1 Everton (Prem)
WEST HAM UNITED
- Spurs 1-2 West Ham (LC)
- West Ham 0-0 S'land (Prem)
- Liverpool 4-1 West Ham (Prem)
- Palace 1-0 West Ham (Prem)
- West Ham 3-0 Fulham (Prem)
If West Ham win, Moyes will be staring down the barrel of a very difficult conversation with the Manchester United big wigs while Big Sam will buy himself all kinds of time to fix things in the January transfer window.
If United win, everyone will just shrug and pop down the pub.
Past away performances by West Ham this season will reveal the Irons’ gameplan for Moyes. The Hammers will sit deep and park the bus, throwing in heroic last-ditch tackles and blocks in an (almost certainly) vain effort to keep United at bay. The home side will need to show patience – both on the pitch and from the stands – to prevent any panicky shooting from 40 yards and wobbly defending.
West Ham’s main attacking 'threat' Modibo Maiga was ignoring the goalmouth like a gobby, pissed uncle on Christmas Day before his salmon-like winner at Spurs in the League Cup, while Carlton Cole’s propensity for bringing his 50p feet to the party continues.
Allardyce may well tell them all to bugger off and go striker-less again.
Moyes will need experience out on the pitch, so Ryan Giggs is an obvious choice to sit in the middle of the park and keep everything nice and calm. The welcome return of Darren Fletcher gives the gaffer an option of putting one of the game’s great students into the mix to help pull apart what resistance the Irons can muster.
Moyes needed to lose Robin van Persie to injury like he needed a hole in the head. Danny Welbeck is a capable striker, but his lack of experience may play into the hands of Allardyce’s plans to frustrate.
West Ham continue to lose players to injury and suspension like it’s a hobby. Andy Carroll – the answer to almost every question about West Ham at the moment – is taking the slowly-but-surely approach to rehab.
Player to watch: Ravel Morrison (West Ham)
Unfinished business? We’d say so. Unable to keep the Ravel-a-thon on the straight and narrow at Old Trafford, Fergie shipped Morrison out to West Ham where he was kept under wraps until his temperament and a lack of creativity in the first team afforded him the opportunity this season.
Saturday will be an opportunity to show United what they lost… which could go really well or really badly depending on how well Moyes’ men marshal West Ham’s midfield.
Two contrasting away days for West Ham showed less may be more where Morrison is concerned. It seems oddly counter-intuitive to use your side’s most creative player sparingly, but that approach was certainly effective against Tottenham. That was the famous Sam “Allardycé” game though, where West Ham’s gaffer revelled in the media’s surprise at his striker-less approach. It was a tactic that forced possession back to Spurs again and again, hence the lack of time on the ball for Morrison. Saturday could be similar.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- W Ham 2-2 United (Prem, Apr 13)
- United 1-0 W Ham (FAC, Jan 13)
- W Ham 2-2 United (FAC, Jan 13)
- United 1-0 W Ham (Prem, Nov 12)
- W Ham 2-4 United (Prem, Apr 11)
“Bring on the January transfer window!” must be the cry of both men as they stare into the shaving mirror every morning. Wading in with new signings won’t fix everything though, and they both know it.
As far as this weekend goes, (as mentioned) Allardyce will be the far more relaxed of the two managers, with only the most optimistic West Ham fan thinking they’ll get three points out of this game. Should the unthinkable happen and West Ham go a goal up, Moyes will cut a forlorn figure in that technical area.
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
- The Hammers have failed to score in 6 of their last 8 Premier League games against Man United.
- Wayne Rooney has scored 7 goals in his last 6 league appearances against West Ham.
- Only the Britannia Stadium and KC Stadium have seen fewer goals than Old Trafford (15) this season.
Man United have won each of their last 8 home games against bottom-six clubs, with 7 HT/FT double results from their last 9.|
More FFT Stats Zone facts • Find the best odds with Bet Butler
A squeaky 1-0 win for Man United thanks to a dubious penalty or splendid own goal.