A tricky run of fixtures for West Ham continues on Sunday when David Moyes leads his side out at Old Trafford to take on former employers Manchester United.
The Scot was infamously dismissed as United’s boss just 10 months into a six-year contract, but those woes couldn’t be any further from his mind now that he’s in charge of a West Ham side in with a genuine chance of qualifying for the Champions League.
Tricky recent fixtures against Tottenham and Leeds have been safely negotiated, and even the narrow defeat at Manchester City showed just how much progress has been made this season.
Manchester United are familiar foes in 2020/21 as the Red Devils already hold two wins over Moyes’ side – in the reverse Premier League fixture and also in the FA Cup fifth round, where a Scott McTominay goal was enough to earn a win in extra time.
For this one, the Hammers are without Angelo Ogbonna (injury) and Jesse Lingard (ineligible), but they should still be able to put out a strong team – one that may not include a formation change owing to United’s injury problems.
Here’s how 90min sees Moyes lining up his side.
Lukasz Fabianski (GK) – Elbow injury overcome, there’s only one way for the Pole to celebrate his new one-year contract – starting at Old Trafford.
Vladimir Coufal (RB) – Had Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial or Edinson Cavani been available, we might have seen West Ham revert to using three central defenders and wingbacks. But they’re not, so Moyes may stick with his usual formula.
Craig Dawson (CB) – Is the Watford loanee really playing himself into contention for England’s Euros squad? Nah, probably not, but Dawson’s still playing like prime Paolo Maldini at the moment.
Issa Diop (CB) – Has stepped up in the absence of Angelo Ogbonna superbly, and is again looking like the player everybody was raving about once upon a time.
Aaron Cresswell (LB) – When you talk about player rejuvenations, you’ll do better to find many better examples than Cresswell during 2020/21. Has a truly sensational delivery that makes West Ham dangerous at every set piece.
Tomas Soucek (CM) – Fatigue doesn’t seem to apply to footballers from the Czech Republic, so we can all look forward to another bruising 90 minute showing from the man who loves potato salad.
Declan Rice (CM) – Speaking of fatigue, it doesn’t seem to be something that applies to West Ham’s captain either. Rice is the first name on Moyes’ teamsheet, each and every week.
Pablo Fornals (AM) – The Spaniard’s battling qualities could be key to breaking down United’s midfield, likely to be led by the industrious pairing of Scott McTominay and Fred.
Jarrod Bowen (RW) – A spell out of the side may have been exactly what Bowen needed to find his mojo again. Needs to improve his decision making, something that’s important to get right in games of this magnitude.
Michail Antonio (ST) – It’s going to be an uncomfortable afternoon for Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof, as you could bet your mortgage on the fact that Antonio will look to run them ragged.
Said Benrahma (LW) – Still finding his feet at Premier League level, Benrahma clearly has the talent to make the grade. Starting these kind of games is essential for building his confidence, and Lingard’s absence should allow the Algerian another chance to shine.