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2014-03-21T12:00:00 Updated 2015-02-18T22:21:35

Tactically speaking: Man Utd

Tactically Speaking

The Official Website takes an in-depth look at how Manchester United could line up in Saturday's Barclays Premier League fixture at the Boleyn Ground, as well as the important role Winston Reid has to play.

West Ham United

Ahead of the welcome of Manchester United to the Boleyn Ground, football statistics website have taken the opportunity to preview the fixture against the defending Premier League champions.

Manchester United head into the Premier League meeting on the back of a demoralising 3-0 defeat at the hands of fierce rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford last weekend. United have only won two of their last six Premier League games - taking eight points from those games. In contrast West Ham have taken 12 points from the same number of games.

The meeting between the two sides earlier this season saw Manchester United run out 3-1 winners thanks to goals from Danny Welbeck, Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young. Carlton Cole scored a late consolation for the Hammers.

Saturday is certainly the perfect opportunity for West Ham to face the defending champions and they will be looking to add to the six clean sheets they already have at home in the league this season. Manchester United managed just the one shot on target against Liverpool, so West Ham will feel confident they can keep another clean sheet and Winston Reid will be expected to play a crucial role if this is to happen.

The New Zealander made his first league start since November against Stoke last time out and will be looking to keep his place in the team for the visit of United. Reid's average rating of 7.42 from starts alone is higher than any other West Ham player this season.

He will need to be at his very best again though to limit the attacking threat posed by Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata, although Reid's performances this season suggest he more than has the ability to do so. United do however have the third best away record in the Premier League this season, only Arsenal and Tottenham have taken more points away from home.

Manchester United have a weakness of 'avoiding offside' and David Moyes' side have made a habit of jumping the gun when it comes to attacking, with defenders able to catch the more offensive-minded performers out. With Reid developing a statistically calculated strength of 'concentration', the No2's organisational skills will go a long way to stopping the likes of Van Persie and particularly Wayne Rooney who has scored eight of his eleven league goals away from home this season, threatening the West Ham goal.

Limiting United's goalscoring opportunities will increase the likelihood of the Hammers securing their 14th clean sheet of the season and with it; improving the chances of West Ham securing a positive result in Saturday's late kick-off.

* is a website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Follow @WhoScored on Twitter.

Manchester United

de Gea

Smalling  Jones  Ferdinand  Evra

Carrick  Fellaini

Januzaj  Mata  Welbeck


It would come as a big surprise if Manchester United did not line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with David Moyes' side having done so in all but three of their Barclays Premier League matches this season. However, picking the personnel who will play in that system is far more difficult.

Inconsistent form and results, the arrival of Juan Mata and the size of the Manchester United squad mean Moyes has plenty of options - and has used them regularly this season.

No fewer than 26 players have started a Barclays Premier League match for the Red Devils this term, with only goalkeeper David de Gea, Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney starting 20 or more. For that reason, forecasting how Manchester United will start is difficult.

One player Moyes will definitely be without on Saturday is striker Robin van Persie, who suffered a knee injury in scoring a hat-trick in Wednesday's 3-0 UEFA Champions League round of 16 second-leg win over Olympiakos at Old Trafford.

Playing style-wise, while their results have not matched those achieved in recent seasons, the visitors still control their matches for long periods, keeping the ball, getting it wide to their wingers and full-backs and pressing high when out of possession.

Perhaps the biggest difference this season is that Manchester United have simply not been as clinical as they were under Sir Alex Ferguson.

The visitors' pass completion percentage and share of possession are both down on last season, but not markedly - by 1.2 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively - but at this stage last season, Manchester United had scored 64 goals.

Of their 14 shots on goal per game, just five have hit the target on average, while the Red Devils are on course for their lowest league goalscoring tally since 2004/05, when they managed 58.

Defensively, for a variety of reasons, Manchester United have not looked as secure as they have done in recent seasons. However, they had conceded the same amount of goals after 27 matches - 31 - as they did in 2012/13.

Statistically, Moyes' side are allowing their opponents less shots per game than Ferguson's team did last season.

So, who will start for Manchester United?

Goalkeeper has been the one position that Moyes has not chopped and changed this season. Spaniard David de Gea is a typical European goalkeeper in many respects - a good shot-stopper with quick reflexes and accurate distribution, but not 100 per cent certain when it comes to catching and commanding his penalty area.

At right-back, Moyes will likely pick either Rafael or Chris Smalling. The Brazilian is squat, tenacious and can dribble and pass effectively, while the taller Smalling is a centre-back who is good in the air and can also get forward to decent effect.

Left-back has been the most consistent outfield position for Moyes, where veteran Evra is a strong all-round full-back with no standout weaknesses.

Centre-back has been an issue for Moyes. When available, Nemanja Vidic is an outstanding defender, but the Serb has been sidelined repeatedly through injury and suspension and is banned again for Saturday's game.

With Vidic suspended, Moyes could pick Rio Ferdinand, now 35, alongside versatile England international Phil Jones, while Northern Ireland international Jonny Evans is a third option.

The lack of consistency in a vital area of the pitch has sometimes caused uncertainty in defensive areas.

Defensive midfield has largely been the reserve of former Hammer Michael Carrick - a fine passer and interceptor - and Tom Cleverley, who likes to keep things simple.

Belgian talisman Marouane Fellaini, who adds height and physicality, recently returned to action and could be deployed alongside either in front of the back four.

Scot Darren Fletcher is an alternative, while Ryan Giggs has taken on a more withdrawn role at the age of 40.

Behind the front three, the arrival of Mata has added to Moyes' plentiful options.

The Spaniard is an outstanding talent, creating chances with passes, individual skill and set pieces, while his own finishing is also superb on his left foot. Teenager Adnan Januzaj has been a bright spot this season with his elusive dribbling and creative passing.

Among the manager's other options in midfield are direct Ecuador winger Antonio Valencia and the diminutive Japan playmaker Shinji Kagawa. Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck are also in contention. It is likely that Januzaj and Welbeck will get the nod, especially with Valencia suffering a nasty eye injury in the win over Olympiakos.

Robin van Persie, who has few weaknesses to his all-round game, would have started as the central striker but he has failed to recover from the knee injury he suffered in midweek. For that reason, England talisman Wayne Rooney will likely start up front.

Mexican poacher Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez has been used sparingly this season, but has a knack of scoring important goals.

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