Being just a point behind the league-leaders after 14 games is exactly what Man Utd fans would have accepted last season. Now, though, there is widespread discontent from having to watch a borderline sterile Man Utd attack. A Bastian Schweinsteiger header from a Daley Blind corner in their 1-1 draw with Leicester City did salvage the Reds a point, but they could not make a breakthrough during open play.
Man Utd maintain a 60.1% average possession that is highest in the league, but they cannot convert their control into clear-cut shots or goals. There is a lack of imagination or risk from the midfielders, who are unwilling to make direct passes into the box, while Wayne Rooney is not making runs and appears to prefer any position but being in the box.
Louis van Gaal at last showed a willingness to play without Rooney after subbing on Memphis Depay after 67 minutes, but it seemed too late in the game after Man Utd’s tiring midweek performance in a 0-0 draw to PSV in the Champions League.
Man Utd’s current strength is in defence, but this is not entirely accurate, for their high possession plays an enormous role in limiting the other team’s chances. In fact, Leicester were much more effective in attacking with limited possession and managed to create two excellent opportunities. A mistake against West Ham could prove fatal for Man Utd.
West Ham have claimed astonishing away victories against Arsenal, Liverpool, and Man City. However, their record was dented by a 4-1 loss to London rivals Tottenham, and the Hammers could only muster a 1-1 draw away to West Brom.
The Hammers have undoubtedly lost their early-season spark, and a major reason is the injury to the superb Dimitri Payet until February. They would have been excellent pick to win the game with Payet, but now they lack ideas in attack.
Tip one: Man Utd @ 1.44 with Betfair
Tip two: Under 2.5 goals @ 2.0 with Betfair
Louis van Gaal has a midweek break to work closely with his players on the training pitch. This will give him some time to seriously address his team’s unproductive attack. Man Utd should be considered favourites.