To say it has been a slow start to the 2014/2015 season for Manchester United is an understatement as Louis Van Gaal’s honeymoon period has well and truly ended. The 5-3 defeat at Leicester could be put down as a freak, one-off result that takes away from the wonderful attacking football and superb goals United scored at the King Power Stadium, but the game illustrated many underlying problems which currently exist at Old Trafford.
Manchester United have more than enough quality at their disposal to overcome their recent struggles, and have two home games to look forward to against West Ham and Everton. Although there are no easy games in the Premier League, they represent the best opportunity to restore faith and make a real statement of intent that Manchester United can be strong contenders this season. Taking a peak at the Premier League Football Preview may give punters the best predictions, and backing Manchester United to beat West Ham on home soil could carry great value.
Sam Allardyce’s men will arrive at Old Trafford in Week 6 of the Premier League season on the crest of a wave following their wonderful 3-1 victory against Liverpool at Upton Park. West Ham thoroughly deserved the three points in a game that demonstrated a change in approach from recent years; the Hammers have gone from the highest long ball passers from 2013/2014 to ninth in the current campaign, with a preference to play football on the ground becoming clearer. They remain strong in defence through James Collins and James Tomkins, but the acquisition of Alex Song on loan, along with exciting young players Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho, have transformed West Ham into a dangerous team who play good football.
Much will depend on how Allardyce approaches the trip to Manchester United, but it is difficult not to fancy Angel Di Maria to do considerable damage given his wonderful start at the club. Radamel Falcao may also thrive upon the physical challenge posed by West Ham’s defence, while Wayne Rooney could be important in a deep-lying number 10 role if he is not marked closely. Big question marks remain over Van Gaal’s options in defence, with Jonny Evans’ injury and Tyler Blackett’s red card adding to Phil Jones’ hamstring injury to leave Manchester United seriously short in an area which has been extremely suspect.
Roberto Martinez’s side are next up for Manchester United in Week 7, with the Toffees already holding leverage over the Red Devils following their 1-0 victory last season. Everton will pose a more direct threat to United’s hope of making Old Trafford a fortress once again; although an ever-improving West Ham side will be anything but easy to come up against, Martinez has developed an excellent team that always give the big guns a run for their money. In Romelu Lukaku, they have a wonderfully gifted striker whose power could cause all sorts of problems for a Manchester United defence lacking confidence and understanding, while Steven Naismith could also be a threat with his endeavour and pace. Everton also own two of the best full-backs in the Premier League, with Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman vital to Martinez’s style of play and could look to take the game to Van Gaal’s team.