Home ยป Three storylines for Manchester United fans to digest before the big game at Old Trafford this Sunday afternoon

Three storylines for Manchester United fans to digest before the big game at Old Trafford this Sunday afternoon

by Alex Browne

Manchester United take on West Ham today in a crucial match for the Europa League positions. If the Red Devils were to win, they would leapfrog the Hammers into sixth place and close the gap with Tottenham to six points.

Both teams enter the match in solid form as West Ham have gone six league games unbeaten and United have not lost in four games either.

In what will be the 154th instalment of an English classic, United will aim to avoid defeat and avenge a 2-0 loss just before Christmas, where an injury-ravaged side including a defence of Jonny Evans and Willy Kambwala held firm until the 72 minute.

Here are three storylines that fans are following with interest.

How does Kobbie Mainoo respond to midweek heroics?

Manchester United fans have known how special Mainoo is for a long time but the Englishman announced himself to the Premier League casual on Thursday night in style, scoring a wonderful solo goal in the 97th minute to save his side’s blushes against Wolves.

The game was the 18 year old’s eighth consecutive start for the Red Devils and he has cemented himself as one of the first names on the team sheet. The Stockport native is even on course to receive a big pay rise to reflect his growing stature at the club.

One hallmark of Mainoo’s time in the first team is his consistency for one so young, so United fans will fully expect the midfield man to continue to make a strong impact on Sunday’s game.

Can United continue their strong streak at home to West Ham?

Whilst the Red Devils’ record at the London Stadium has been patchy, where they have lost their last two games, their recent results against the East Londoners at Old Trafford have been fantastic.

According to the BBC, Man United have gone 15 league games unbeaten at home to the side who play in claret and blue.

In fact, you have to go way back to May 2007, when a certain Carlos Tevez netted for the Hammers on the last day of the season, to keep the Londoners in the Premier League, to find a West Ham victory at the Theatre of Dreams. Even then, United had already been crowned champions, so were hardly at their optimum level.

Can United’s flailing defence hold firm?

The Mancunian side have recently rediscovered their goalscoring touch, scoring two goals or more in five of their last six games since they failed to score against the Hammers before Christmas.

However, their defence has also struggled immensely. In an embarrassing statistic, only Sheffield United have conceded more goals in all competitions this season than Manchester United’s 52.

Despite a decent effort the last time out against the Hammers, United’s weakened defence was finally breached by Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus. With a first choice defence back to pick from, Erik ten Hag will be hoping today is the day that the team can eventually return to some sort of defensive solidity, as without it, even the Europa League spots will be a distant dream.

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