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West Ham vs Man United | How t...
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West Ham vs Man United | How the Hammers nailed their visitors

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

15:21 23 Sep 2019

There is a fabled "Manchester United way". But there's also a "West Ham way". 

One of Sunday's Premier League 2pm kick-offs involved two clubs with a certain sense of attacking tradition. Albeit one has far more historical success than the other.

But in reality, we were watching a clash between two mid-table clubs with outside ambitions of maybe breaking into the Top 4.

Ultimately, West Ham prevailed 2-0 at home. The general reflection was they didn't need to be at 100% to beat their beleaguered visitors.

So how did they stymie a United side that admittedly was missing key players?

Man United lined up in a 4-2-3-1 with Juan Mata in front of the diligent but ponderous midfield duo of Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay. They pushed midfielder Andreas Pereira out to the right and the pacey Daniel James on the other flank, with Marcus Rashford leading the line.

No Press

The counter-attack was going to be United's calling card. But the home side didn't let them find space in behind or in transition. West Ham lined up with essentially ball-players further forward. Declan Rice mopping up behind Pablo Fornals and captain Mark Noble, as Rice did to great effect in last October's 3-1 win.

Felipe Anderson started on the left, leaving space for Aaron Cresswell to provide over-lap support. Andriy Yarmolenko operated from the right where he likes to cut in onto his left.

And up front, ex-Eintracht Frankfurt centre-forward Sebastian Haller led the line.

However, it was interesting to watch how that advanced trio didn't bother to press Man United's back-four. They allowed Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and co time on the ball. Instead they reduced the space in their own half. Coupled with limited movement from Rashford and co and little space to run into, United struggled to build up from midfield.

It did highlight what they are missing. Paul Pogba may have his faults but he does have the vision to unlock opponents with defence splitting passes or a dribble up-field. With the French midfielder out injured, such an outlet wasn't an option for United.

Right side

Juan Mata in the No 10 role can provide spark but he inevitably got lost in the deep-lying Hammers fray - but for a chance at the far post when he slid in but failed to connect properly with a Pereira cross. Indeed, most of United's rare chances in open play came from the right side. They had a short spell between the 15th and 30th minutes at a time when Ashley Young swapped full-back slots with Aaron Wan Bissaka for reasons unknown.

But with little movement in the box, it didn't prove to be a viable avenue. Goals have been an issue this season. The last time Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side scored more than one goal in a game came on the opening day against Chelsea.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Haller struggled to get a foothold in the game. But fortunately for Manuel Pellegrini's team, Anderson and Yarmolenko excelled in their inside-forward briefs.

Once West Ham got to the final third, they were patient in possession, often circulating the ball in the channel and that led to the first goal.

Yarmolenko

While Yarmolenko looped behind the left of United's defence, Noble was purposeful in possession.

He spotted Anderson. The Brazilian then flicked it into intelligently into the path of his Ukrainian team-mate who had got back into an on-side position between Young and Maguire.

And once he had got the ball onto his left-foot in that area, there was only one outcome. Even though their second goal would come from Cresswell's free-kick, it was a technical ball-player around the edge of the United box that won it. Jack Wilshere fell under a challenge just outside the box and Cresswell dealt some punishment spectacularly.

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