West Ham vs Manchester United | Sunday 19th September 2021, 14:00 | Sky Sports
Man Utd return to Premier League action after an embarrassing defeat to Young Boys on Tuesday. Many have questioned Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s subs in the second half when they were down to 10 men after Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s red card.
But Jesse Lingard’s misplaced pass gave Jordan Siebatcheu the chance to win it for Young Boys and the 25-year-old obliged, rolling the ball past David de Gea.
Now the Ronaldo circus rolls into the capital, as the Red Devils look to extend their unbeaten run in the league at the start of the season.
But West Ham won’t be a pushover. They’ve made a strong start and are yet to lose following a run of two wins and two draws. This current sequence means the Hammers are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League games – their longest run since 2016.
And David Moyes will have been delighted with how his side dealt with a hostile atmosphere in Croatia on Thursday. They saw off Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 in the Europa League with Michail Antonio on the scoresheet.
However, the Hammers’ talisman is suspended after his red card in the goalless draw at Southampton last weekend. And West Ham’s record without him is poor.
Since his debut in September 2015, the Hammers have won just 28% of games when he doesn’t start (25/90) compared to 41% of their league games where he started (56/137).
Without a recognised number nine, does that tip the balance into the visitors’ favour?
The betting angles
It’s been hard to look past goals. Only four teams have hit double figures this season, Man Utd (11) and West Ham (10) both make the list with Man City and Everton.
I was weighing up over 2.5 goals at 4/5 (Betfair) but feel confidence is slightly reduced by Antonio’s absence, although I still think the visitors are culpable to mistakes at the back.
But I’ve spotted something more enticing at 5/4 with Bet365. Back the second half to be the highest scoring for Man Utd, which you can find under the goals tab.
Let’s start with the obvious. Man Utd have scored 11 league goals, nine (82%) have come after the break, so they see games out strongly.
Against Leeds, four of their five goals came in the second half. While three of the four v Newcastle last weekend came in the final 45 minutes.
Those were both at home, but the trend remains intact when they’re on the road domestically. Despite only scoring once against Wolves and Southampton, those came in the 55th and 80th minutes respectively. So, once again showing their tendency to score in the second half.
I’m also willing to roll the dice on West Ham to have 12+ shots at 11/10 with Paddy Power. This line looks quite appealing, even without Antonio, considering Sky Bet have the Hammers’ lowest line at 15.
This line does look low. West Ham ranks fourth for shots (64) in the Premier League and have registered 12+ in all four matches. They’ve hit 17, 19, 14 & 13 in the top-flight, while they also mustered 14 in Croatia on Thursday.
We know they’re a threat from set-pieces with Tomas Souček and Craig Dawson. Plus, Jarrod Bowen could be given the nod to lead the line, and he’s not afraid to pull the trigger.
After such a good start, an expectant London Stadium crowd will be urging their players to shoot, and that’s highlighted by them having 21 efforts from outside the area – none of which have resulted in a goal.
This does, however, have the feel of a game where West Ham’s nimble and quick attackers – Bowen, Pablo Fornals and Saïd Benrahma – could have some joy. The latter is one to watch with the way he can drift in central positions.
Man Utd faced 15 shots on their trip to Molineux, while Newcastle also managed to hit 12 last weekend. And although being a man light in Bern on Tuesday, Young Boys hit 20.
I do think the visitors will have to weather a storm at some point, so if West Ham can pin them into their defensive third, they could well give de Gea plenty of work. This 12+ line looks generous on what the hosts have already achieved this season, as well as comparing it to what some other firms are offering.
Other markets that I did like the look of included 6+ Man Utd at 5/4 with Sky Bet. The Red Devils have had the third most corners (26) – only Liverpool (42) and Man City (39) have had more.
They’ve hit six in three of their four league matches. The game-by-game totals are 5, 7, 7 & 7, with just the Leeds opener seeing them miss out by one. So, that did have some scope.
When the referee appointments were announced on Tuesday, I was put off cards. Martin Atkinson doesn’t go looking for trouble anymore. That’s highlighted by Bet365 setting the match cards line at 2.5.
One thing I did have in my notes was that three centre-backs have already been booked against Man Utd. Leeds’ Liam Cooper, Southampton’s Jack Stephens and Wolves’ Romain Saïss.
Moyes could well go with a back three here. He’ll have been happy to have given Craig Dawson and Angelo Ogbonna a night off in midweek. They could both be reinstated to the starting XI alongside summer signing Kurt Zouma.
I’d wait for team news before deciding whether to play one of those, but Dawson’s lack of pace could make him vulnerable to a burst from Ronaldo or Mason Greenwood later in the game. There’s some 9/2 knocking around with Unibet for a Dawson card if that takes your fancy.
West Ham vs Manchester United – Manchester United Highest-Scoring Half: 2nd (5/4 Bet365)
West Ham vs Manchester United – West Ham 12+ shots (11/10 Paddy Power)