Six things we learned from Manchester United 1-0 West Ham

Manchester United have beaten West Ham 1-0 late on in a vital game in the race for the Champions League spots in the Premier League.

Here is a look at six things we learned from the match…

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Rangnick approaching a settled team

There was only one change between Ralf Rangnick’s starting 11 here and the one he selected at Brentford on Wednesday night.

That alteration was forced anyway, because Victor Lindelof wanted to stay with his family after a break-in at their house during the Brentford game.

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Harry Maguire came back in, but you can now see the makings of a settled team under Rangnick.

At the moment, he is going with a 4-3-3 with flying full-backs and that is something like what many United fans wanted to see under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Injuries and other absences are robbing Rangnick of some other options at present, but he is seemingly clear on his United blueprint right now.

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United make a better start

Slow starts have been a theme of United’s season, going back to Solskjaer’s reign and they were awful in the first half on Wednesday night.

But this was a brighter start as United pushed their visitors back and could have opened the scoring when Mason Greenwood raced onto a fourth minute Bruno Fernandes pass, only to cut inside rather than take the shot on his right foot.

United kept it going throughout the opening 45 minutes and the home crowd responded.

Rangnick has spoken about the importance of control and he got it from the off in this one.

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United leave it late to make the breakthrough

West Ham are well organised under David Moyes but their first choice goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was missing due to Covid here and United did not test Alphonse Areola enough until that late Marcus Rashford goal.

It was not exactly concerted pressure from United late on but they got the goal which earned a vital victory.

That showed the character in the squad after a period in which they have been questioned.

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Cavani called upon late

United needed a spark in the second half as the game opened up but neither side looked particularly close to scoring but Edinson Cavani was not called upon until eight minutes from time.

The Uruguayan was sent on alongside Martial but did not get much in the way of time or service with which to make an impact, but he still managed it.

Perhaps that was done to protect his fitness, but United could have done with Cavani on the field earlier, and Rangnick could have been guilty of letting the game drift rather than making changes to alter its course.

But it was the first man he brought on, Rashford, who converted the chance laid on by the number 21 right at the very death, with Martial involved in the lead-up too. All three replacements played a huge part in that crucial late winner and Rangnick deserves credit for that.

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United scoop vital win

Rangnick was keen to emphasise before the game the importance of winning and the two points dropped could prove vital in the race for the top four.

United did not do enough to force the issue and turn their possession and territory into consistent chances, but they got the job done in the end.

The importance of the win was reflected in the scenes at Old Trafford at full-time and this could be a catalyst for the season.

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Varane suffers an injury

Raphael Varane went down as the second half ticked down and Phil Jones was being readied to replace him at one stage.

The Frenchman battled on and everyone of a United persuasion will hope that means the problem is not too serious and will not keep him out for any length of time.

Varane has already had two injury absences this season and another would be a major blow to United at a time when they have absences across the backline already.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.