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It would not be a Manchester United match without David de Gea being forced to bail his side out on one or two occasions, but Ralf Rangnick‘s side found their goalscoring touch in the second period to ultimately see off Brentford with ease.
Anthony Elanga headed home only his second Premier League goal to break the deadlock before Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford made the net ripple to put the Red Devils 3-0 up on the day, with Ivan Toney‘s late strike unable to inspire a dramatic comeback for Brentford.
Such a result was a convincing way for Man United to end their two-game winless streak in the top flight, but the Red Devils are still rank outsiders when it comes to the top-four battle, as Rangnick’s side lie seventh in the rankings before this weekend’s crunch battle.
The Hammers sit just two points above Man United having played a game more, so the hosts could certainly blow the Champions League race wide open with victory here, and not since 1985 have the Red Devils opened the calendar year with back-to-back top-flight defeats at home.
A tally of just one clean sheet from their last 15 Premier League games at Old Trafford will be of some concern to Rangnick, though, and the attacking talent in the visitors’ ranks are primed to make their manager’s return to the Theatre of Dreams a memorable one.
Scott McTominay was withdrawn in the dying embers against Brentford with a back issue but is expected to be available for Saturday, which is more than can be said for Paul Pogba and Africa Cup of Nations representative Eric Bailly.
Luke Shaw and Edinson Cavani are also likely to miss out once more after suffering issues in training, while Jadon Sancho is still doubtful with personal issues and Aaron Wan-Bissaka‘s illness is set to keep him sidelined again.
Cristiano Ronaldo was less than pleased with his 71st-minute substitution at Brentford, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner ought to keep Rashford out of the XI as Rangnick refuses to fix what is not broken.
As for West Ham, Moyes is cautiously optimistic over Tomas Soucek‘s chances of returning from COVID-19, but Mark Noble‘s knee injury is set to keep him sidelined once again.
Said Benrahma remains absent at the Africa Cup of Nations, while centre-backs Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma complete a quintet of possible absentees for the fourth-placed side this weekend.
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Alex Kral continues to struggle for opportunities in the middle even with Noble and Soucek absent, but Moyes may be tempted to bring in the defensive-minded 23-year-old if necessary here.
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Telles; Fred, McTominay; Greenwood, Fernandes, Elanga; Ronaldo
West Ham United possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Coufal, Diop, Dawson, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Lanzini, Fornals; Antonio