West Ham vs. Man U
Venue: London Stadium
Kick off: 12:30PM
West Ham United head into their Premier League encounter with Manchester United having put together a three-match unbeaten streak in all competitions.
United are undefeated in five outings, but the EFL Cup exit to Derby County and tension between manager Jose Mourinho and midfielder Paul Pogba has led to a change in mood behind the scenes at Old Trafford.
Manuel Pellegrini found his side sitting at the bottom of the table and struggling at both ends of the pitch, but a chance to regroup over a two-week period has worked wonders for a club who spent big during the summer transfer window.
A 3-1 victory away at Everton has been backed up by a goalless draw with then-leaders Chelsea and not only has it led to West Ham moving out of the bottom three, it has resulted in renewed optimism at the London Stadium.
The majority of their fanbase will openly acknowledge that they refuse to get carried away with the team’s recent progression on the pitch, but it is at least a move in the right direction at a time when the pressure had increased on Pellegrini and his squad.
The fixture list does not get any easier for the East London outfit, with United and Tottenham Hotspur the next two visitors to their home ground, but there is now genuine expectation that positive results can be recorded against either team.
On the other hand, report has suggested that executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has no plans to part ways with either manager Jose Mourinho or midfielder Paul Pogba, despite the pair’s relationship seemingly taking a turn for the worse over the past week.
However, Woodward may be forced to reconsider his stance should United not improve on the pitch, with the club out of the EFL Cup and sitting eight points adrift of leaders Liverpool in the Premier League table.
The midweek penalty-shootout defeat to Derby County will not be regarded as a major setback in the long term, but the performance was again below the level expected by Mourinho and the club’s fanbase.
United have now won just four of their eight matches in all competitions this season – despite having only played one of their direct title rivals – and Mourinho must get wins on the board in order to maintain any sort of a challenge for the top-flight crown.
The Portuguese will be aware that he cannot allow any issues with Pogba to linger, but stripping the France international of the vice-captaincy and getting into a confrontation with the player at the club’s training ground on Wednesday has only highlighted the tension behind the scenes.
Victory over West Ham could go a long way to improving matters both on and off the pitch, but defeat may only lead to Mourinho facing a fight to keep hold of his job at Old Trafford.
West Ham United possible XI: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Diop, Balbuena, Masuaku, Noble, Rice, Obiang, Anderson, Yarmolenko, Arnautovic.
Man U possible XI: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Matic, Pogba, Sanchez, Lingard, Rashford, Lukaku.