Tactically speaking - Manchester United

Tactically speaking

The Official Website and WhoScored.com take a tactical look forward to West Ham United's Barclays Premier League trip to Manchester United on Saturday.

The focus is on David Moyes' men and a former Manchester United player in Hammers midfielder Ravel Morrison.

West Ham United

Ravel Morrison

A tough-looking trip to Old Trafford looms for West Ham as defending Barclays Premier League champions Manchester United host the Hammers on Saturday, but football statistics website WhoScored.com believe the former United starlet can come back to haunt his former employers.

David Moyes has endured a mixed start to life at the helm, with the Red Devils siting eighth in England's top tier, ten points behind league leaders Arsenal. The Manchester giants have lost their last two home games in the Premier League, having been dispatched by Everton and Newcastle United. The last time the two sides met at Old Trafford in the league, Robin Van Persie scored the only goal to give the home side the win.

However, with Wayne Rooney possibly inured and Van Persie definitelyside-lined this time around, their chances of finding the net at the weekend decrease significantly, more so when taking into consideration that West Ham have kept four clean sheets in eight games on the road this term. On the back of the 2-1 Capital One Cup win over Tottenham Hotspur, the Hammers will be confident of becoming the fourth team to come away from Old Trafford with maximum points this season.

Much of the attacking burden is likely to be placed on the shoulders of former Manchester United trainee Ravel Morrison, with the 20-year-old expected to face his former side for the first time since departing in 2012. Morrison will be keen to add to his three goals and goals assists this season and with Manchester United appearing to lack strength in depth in midfield, he will relish the opportunity to show the club what they're missing.

Boasting a WhoScored.com strength of 'dribbling', Morrison currently beats an opponent an average of 2.2 times per game, only Mohamed Diamé (2.5) performs better in that respect of every West Ham player.

Expected to be up against compatriot Tom Cleverley in the Manchester United midfield, the 24-year-old having been dribbled past an average of 1.3 times per game, the onus will be on Morrison to drive at Cleverley when in possession.

Moreover, the young Hammers ace is currently being fouled an average of 1.3 times per game as opponents aim to hamper his attacking impact. With centre-back Nemanja Vidic a doubt, team-mate Phil Jones is likely to deputise in the backline. Jones currently commits an average of 1.2 fouls per game and with the ability of Morrison on the ball, it's possible this figure will rise at the weekend, while gifting West Ham the opportunity to attack Manchester United from offensive set pieces.

The midfielder has endeared himself to the Hammers fans with his a series of notable displays this term and can improve his standing with the supporters should he come back to haunt his former team.

*WhoScored.com 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

Possible starting XI

De Gea

Rafael  Smalling  Evans  Evra

Valencia  Cleverley  Jones  Januzaj



David Moyes' Manchester United already has a very different look to it than Sir Alex Ferguson's Barclays Premier League title winners of seven months ago.

However, those changes have not come by the new manager's design. Robin van Persie has a groin injury, while Wayne Rooney is struggling with a thigh problem and Michael Carrick is out with a calf injury. With Moyes' major summer signing Marouane Fellaini struggling with a back problem, the Red Devils have an inexperienced look about them, if that is possible.

Manchester United have been using a 4-2-3-1 formation in recent matches, but a lack of available personnel may see Moyes switch to a more traditional 4-4-1-1 formation, with Javier Hernandez playing in a deep-lying role behind main striker Danny Welbeck.

Behind them, Antonio Valencia and young sensation Adnan Januzaj will be expected to provide the Red Devils' traditional width - although Ashley Young's outstanding Capital One Cup performance at Stoke City in mid-week could earn him a Barclays Premier League recall.

Central midfield will be patrolled by England's Tom Cleverley and Phil Jones, while the back four will also contain an England international in centre-back Chris Smalling alongside Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans. Rafael and Patrice Evra are determined characters at full-back, while David De Gea will start in goal.

Tactically, Manchester United still set up in a similar shape to the way they did under Sir Alex Ferguson in that they play with attacking full-backs, wingers and one central striker. Style-wise, they are still throwing in crosses galore and attempting plenty of through balls, but it appears teams are making it harder for the champions to get in behind or play through them.

The 4-3-3 employed last season has been replaced by a more defensive 4-2-3-1 shape, which has seemingly made it harder for the champions to break teams down, particularly at home. The Red Devils still have plenty of the ball - 54 per cent on average - and complete 84 per cent of their passes, but they are only creating five shots on target per league game.

Without Van Persie and possibly Rooney too, Manchester United will be robbed of their two most prolific scorers and chance creators - the pair have contributed 15 of Manchester United's 25 league goals and eight of 14 assists.