A mid-week fixture against Manchester United looms. Previous encounters have thrown up some surprising results and an interesting 90 minutes. Then of course there have also been games that have provided the obvious result, and a less interesting 90 minutes if you support claret and blue. So which way will the upcoming match at Old Trafford go?
Recent statistics show that Man Utd are the second most successful team in the Premier League when it comes to passing in the final third of the pitch and Words: Lucy Woolford are also the top scoring team in the league. Expect the type of defensive game that helped us to draw at home to their local rivals Man City.
Having said that, there may be a chance to catch them on the counter attack. Sorry to mention the “long ball” but without solid defender Vidic in the squad, Man Utd have struggled to keep up with strong attacks from opposition. The current defence really struggled to keep Marouane Fellaini at bay at the beginning of the season, and they are not much better equipped now. A big jump from Carroll to control the ball could set him up to shake off a weakened defence and maybe score the only goal of the game.
This is also a Wednesday night game, which comes right at the time when the winter fixtures are coming at a fast pace. I would never accuse Sir Alex of resting players and focussing on upcoming Champions League fixtures and an all important Manchester derby, but a mid-week fixtures sandwiched between two Saturday kickoffs might just see the likes of Rooney and Van-Persie be substituted on or off. With RVP having scored eight goals in 10 league games this season it’d be a dream come true to see him play less than 90 minutes against us. We can dream can’t we?
I have made one away trip to Old Trafford and it was October of the 08/09 season, a game we lost 2-0. Berbatov pulled off a stunning move on the edge of the 12-yard box, a move that undoubtedly gave James Collins nightmares in his first stint at West Ham. This set Ronaldo up to score his second of the night after just 30 minutes. On seeing Berbatov’s skilled getaway, half of the West Ham following gasped “how did he do that?”, while the other half sighed “here we go again”.
There had been uproar before the game at the fact that we had only been allocated around 1,500 tickets for this fixture. On a chilly Wednesday night, those who had been lucky enough to snap up a ticket enjoyed the evening. Anyone who was there will instantly chuckle at the memory of the “let’s pretend we scored a goal” chant. This was followed by a noisy fake goal celebration and a few odd glances from the Man Utd fans. Of course, we did this three times, and in our minds, it was 2-3 in our favour. No such luck in reality though.
Ex-Hammer Carlos Tevez, of course, got a rousing reception. It was his goal against Man Utd at Old Trafford in 2007 that had sealed our safety in the Premier League. That will never be forgotten. To win at Old Trafford isn’t an easy task at the best of times, so for Tevez to score a well composed goal at such a vital time was brilliant. I wasn’t actually at the game that day, I watched in a bar not far away from Old Trafford, but I dashed to the stadium afterwards to soak up the celebrations. The congratulations from the Manchester United fans was heart warming and we returned the compliments to them, as they had lifted the Premier League trophy that day.
There have been many notable moments in West Ham’s recent history against Man Utd. The League Cup win of 10/11 is an obvious highlight, taking advantage of their weaknesses to slot four goals in at Upton Park. But the main goal that I remember us scoring at Old Trafford was by none other than Paolo Di Canio. Di Canio led the world to discover a new dance move, affectionately known as “the Barthez”, which basically involves waving one arm in the air. Yes, Di Canio’s very onside run led to him coolly passing the ball past a panicking Fabien Barthez to seal an FA Cup victory in January 2001.
When looking up results between the two clubs, I’ve probably discovered more wins than I remember, especially in the last 10 years. However, to accompany these many great moments are the numerous heavy defeats we’ve faced when playing against one of the best teams in Europe. Flicking through previous results I’ve come across a few 3-0 and 4-0 score lines that we were on the wrong end of…but I won’t analyse these.
It’s always a bonus to come away from Old Trafford with any points. Hopefully we can continue a decent first half to our season long campaign, whether it be with a convincing performance, a lucky win or a well earned draw.