Although West Ham will be without their suspended talisman Michail Antonio for Sunday’s clash, the Hammers will pose a threat that Manchester United will have to stand up to and may recall Nemanja Matic for.
David Moyes’ midfield duo Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice will look to dominate United and use their physical attributes to stamp their authority on the match.
In the midweek 2-1 defeat to Young Boys, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went with Fred and Donny van de Beek as his chosen midfield pairing.
But there is every chance neither of them start the match at the London Stadium.
Game for Nemanja Matic
With Scott McTominay easing himself back following groin surgery, Solskjaer could well revert back to the midfield combination he started with against Newcastle for the trip to West Ham.
Playing in central midfield for the second game in a row, Paul Pogba partnered Nemanja Matic for Cristiano Ronaldo’s homecoming against the Magpies.
Matic impressed alongside the Frenchman and it could be the partnership that is chosen on Sunday.
Despite Antonio being unavailable for the Hammers, United are going to have to be resolute at the back and potentially deal with a lot of crosses from wide areas into the penalty area.
In Vladimir Coufal and Aaron Cresswell, West Ham have two full-backs who love putting crosses into the box, so the likes of Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane will have to marshal their defence and ensure we clean our lines.
But in Angelo Ogbonna and Craig Dawson, alongside Rice and Soucek, West Ham also carry an aerial threat from set plays that United will have to deal with.
Unlike Fred, Matic’s height could mean that he warrants inclusion to combat West Ham’s strengths. The worry would be that if the Brazilian started he could be bullied and smothered by West Ham’s midfield pairing.
Soucek and Rice will be quick into tackles and want to win as many turnovers as possible to pin United back.
But having Matic in midfield will not only bring experience, it will add some steel to United’s team and ensure that the spine of Solskjaer’s starting eleven on Sunday is stacked with height and power to nullify the threat of the hosts.
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