United returned to the summit of the Premier League at the weekend after beating Queens Park Rangers, and Fergie’s men will look to make it two unbeaten on the bounce in this one to maintain their position at the top.
The team who started against QPR on Saturday looked very flat, and carried on the ‘story of the season’ by not threatening the opponents goal much, and going a goal behind. Inspired substitutions with the introductions of Anderson and Hernandez invigorated the side, and Sir Alex has gone on record to say that Anderson ‘picks himself’ for Wednesday.
I can see the same back four starting against the Hammers, and Carrick partnering Anderson in the centre of midfield. It’ll be interesting to see who takes the wide-berths. Welbeck and Young have both been in-effective there in recent matches, but we need to remember that Danny Welbeck isn’t a left winger.
For the reds, four players remain ruled out. Likely to be missing until at least Saturday is Antonio Valencia (Hip/Thigh), and fellow right winger Nani still carries a hamstring injury. Shinji Kagawa and Nemanja Vidic who both carry knee injuries are out for the medium term.
Injuries to Yossi Benayoun, Alou Diarra, Ricardo Vaz Te and Jack Collison keep them out of Big Sam’s selection plans on Wednesday, and he’ll be looking to salvage something after a loss at the weekend to Tottenham Hotspur.
Andy Carroll scored his first goal for the club in that one, and his first goal in the Premier League score since April.
The Hammers lie 8th in the Premier League, taking 19 points from their opening 13 matches. They’ve scored 16 goals and conceded 15. Five wins, four losses and four draws make up their season so far, and many will be betting against the East Londoners on this visit.
What does victory mean on Wednesday?
With Chelsea entertaining Fulham at home, and Manchester City playing Wigan at the DW Stadium on the same night, on paper you’d expect our rivals at the top to take all three points from their games, so it’s essential that we get maximum points ourselves. Chelsea fan groups have confirmed that they intend to keep booing new boss Rafa Benitez during matches which will only go against the current European Champions, and Fulham traditionally raise their game against Chelsea, so there’s every possible chance of a further break away at the top for the two teams from Manchester if the Stamford Bridge ‘faithful’ have anything to do with it.
Fancy a flutter?
Bet365.com supply the following odds for the game this weekend…worth a cheeky fiver?
- United to win 3-0 – 13/2
- Draw half time/United win full time – 11/4
- Wayne Rooney to score first and United to win 3-2 – 85/1
- United to win from behind – 6/1
So we’re a third of the way through the Premier League season, and despite many fans feeling the doom and gloom of not playing well, the supporters among us remember the number of times we’ve won trophies by not playing well and getting results. We’ve never panic bought, we’ve always got through those times, and if you’re in any doubt about where the club is going, take a look at that league table. Yes there’s room for improvement, and we’ve come up short in games that we should have won. But the number of comebacks we’ve made this season emphasise the character that the team possess, and I’m sure we can show for the full 90 minutes on Wednesday that we’re at the top of the league for a reason.
Wherever you’re watching it, enjoy the game.
For football conversation (not lectures please!) and other incoherent babble and banter, follow me on Twitter: @stevecrab