With relegation concerns and Champions League aspirations at the fore, we look ahead to West Ham vs Manchester United at London Stadium with our match preview and prediction.
West Ham vs Manchester United: Quick Stats
- The Opta supercomputer gives West Ham a 33.0% chance of winning, only slightly short of Manchester United’s 38.5%.
- David Moyes hasn’t beaten United in nine Premier League games since leaving Old Trafford in April 2014.
- Manchester United have won only one of their past eight league games in London, their four defeats as many as in their prior 23 top-flight matches in the capital.
West Ham and Manchester United find themselves in slightly awkward positions heading into their run-ins. Awkward because both should have enough left in the tank to achieve their respective targets – avoid relegation and qualify for the Champions League – but results are threatening to make life a little tenser than it needs to be.
The Opta supercomputer still puts West Ham’s relegation chances at just 0.6%, which is actually a slight decrease since losing to Erling Haaland-inspired Manchester City in midweek, while United’s probability of missing out on the top four is only 8.2% after losing to Brighton on Thursday.
But Erik ten Hag’s men could go into Sunday’s game only a point ahead of Liverpool in the league table if the Reds beat Brentford on Saturday. Granted, Man Utd will still have a game in hand after their trip to West Ham, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the guaranteed three points we often assume leftover matches come with.
Similarly, West Ham still have to face two of their relegation rivals (Leeds United and Leicester City) in games that’ll surely have a huge say on who’ll go down to England’s second tier, with Everton, Nottingham Forest and Southampton the others in trouble.
United fans will likely see Sunday’s game as a good opportunity to bounce back, though. After all, West Ham manager David Moyes hasn’t beaten the Red Devils in nine Premier League games since losing his job at Old Trafford in April 2014.
That makes the prospect of victory even sweeter for Moyes and West Ham, and on top of that, beating United would move the Hammers on to 37 points – no team has been relegated with 37 points since Newcastle United in 2016.
But it would require overcoming something of a psychological barrier. They’ve lost each of their past five league meetings with United and dropped more points from winning positions against the Red Devils than any other team in Premier League history (35).
West Ham should at least be aided by the returns of key players Tomas Soucek, Nayef Aguerd and Declan Rice, all of whom missed the defeat to Man City due to a stomach bug.
Meanwhile, United – who have won just two of their past eight away league games – are still expected to be without World Cup winner Lisandro Martinez, Donny van de Beek (both out for the season), Scott McTominay and Raphael Varane, but Alejandro Garnacho is closing in on a return and Christian Eriksen will almost certainly return to the starting XI after being benched at the Amex Stadium.
Man Utd 3-1 West Ham: 1 March 2023 (FA Cup)
Although West Ham lost at Old Trafford back in March, this contest should fill them with plenty of belief ahead of Sunday. They were the more threatening side for much of the game and arguably should have been a couple of goals to the good, but Michail Antonio faltered in front of goal.
They did take the lead through Said Benrahma eight minutes after half-time, the Algerian arrowing the ball into the top-right corner after the hosts pretty much stopped playing thinking the ball had gone out of play on the left.
West Ham were wasteful and, although Casemiro had a goal disallowed for offside, United levelled 13 minutes from time when Nayef put a Bruno Fernandes corner into his own goal.
A gorgeous curling effort from Garnacho put United ahead in the 90th minute to essentially seal victory, the winger becoming the youngest player (18 years, 243 days) to score a winning goal in the FA Cup for the Red Devils since Danny Welbeck in January 2009 (18y 39d).
Fred then steered home just before full-time, ensuring West Ham were eliminated from the FA Cup in four of their last five ties away to Premier League opposition, three of which at the hands of United.
In terms of form leading directly into this game, West Ham certainly find themselves in a bit of a bind given they’ve lost three on the spin in the Premier League.
That’s hardly the sort of run you want to be on heading into your final five matches of the season, especially when battling relegation – even if West Ham are considered the least likely of those in trouble to ultimately go down.
The thing is, that run could get even worse against a side they historically struggle against. West Ham have only lost more Premier League games against Arsenal (35) and Liverpool (34) than they have to United (33), while no side has scored more goals against them in the competition than the Red Devils (103 – level with Arsenal).
Additionally, West Ham have lost two of their last three home Premier League games (D1), but what may give them encouragement is United’s poor run of results in the capital.
Ten Hag’s side have won only one of their past eight away league matches in London (D3 L4), suffering as many defeats as in their previous 23 trips.
West Ham: Declan Rice
Given how much United struggled for any kind of midfield control in the second half against Brighton, it would seem likely Erik ten Hag will restore Christian Eriksen to his starting XI.
The trio of Eriksen, Casemiro and Fernandes are crucial to how Ten Hag wants to play and have formed a strong relationship, so much that United’s win rate (all competitions) goes from 80% (20 matches) when all start to just 58.3% (36 matches) when at least one of them is missing.
Disrupting that trident from supplying the likes of Marcus Rashford will be a chief aim of Moyes and West Ham, making the presence of Rice so important.
Prior to missing the City defeat, Rice had played every minute in the Premier League this term, and across all competitions he leads the way for the Hammers in interceptions (1.7) and recoveries (9.3) per 90 minutes (minimum 400 minutes played).
However, he also plays a big role in conducting West Ham and getting them on the front foot, with his 152 attacking sequence involvements bettered by only Benrahma (169) and Jarrod Bowen (157).
Rice is one of the most rounded midfielders in the Premier League, and his return will be a huge boost if passed fit.
Man Utd: Luke Shaw
One lapse was all it took to cost United a point on Thursday, with Shaw’s mindfulness deserting him and his hand rising in the box. Alexis Mac Allister made no mistake from the spot for Brighton, denying David de Gea another clean sheet.
It was a particular shame for Shaw given he had otherwise impressed to that point – and the same goes for much of his time at centre-back over the past few weeks.
His composure on the ball has been especially notable, bringing a calmness at the back that Harry Maguire seemed incapable of before being dropped again after the 3-0 defeat to Sevilla. He also brings direction and purpose with his passing.
Across his four successive matches in central defence since that loss in Spain, Shaw is one of just three Premier League centre-backs to register over 100 forward passes (104) while retaining a pass completion rate of over 90 per cent (91.4%).
Of course, one of those games – the FA Cup clash with Brighton – went to extra-time and penalties so he did have more time on the pitch, but in the context of Man Utd, his numbers do stand out. For example, Victor Lindelof has played the same number of minutes over those games (390) but made just 44 forward passes.
West Ham will represent an entirely different threat, however. Shaw may be afforded more time on the ball given their 35 shot-ending high turnovers is the fifth-fewest in the Premier League, but the Hammers are physical and direct, ranking joint second for open-play crosses (482) and fourth for headed shots (79).
West Ham vs Man Utd Prediction
Given West Ham’s – and Moyes’ – uninspiring record against Man Utd, the Opta supercomputer’s predictions might even look a little surprising.
West Ham’s win probability of 33.0% is only slightly smaller than United’s 38.5%, leaving the draw at 28.5%. So, while the Red Devils are considered slight favourites, the Hammers’ chances aren’t much worse.
United’s unremarkable away form – particularly in the capital – has to be taken into account here, even if West Ham aren’t exactly flying themselves.
But it’s worth remembering how victory for either team will represent a massive step towards their targets; safety will be all but secure for West Ham, easing the pressure somewhat ahead of potential relegation six-pointers, while United would keep Liverpool at arm’s length.