Down The Wings

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5 things: Manchester United vs West Ham Analysis

Manchester United hosted West Ham, who were in good form and were almost safe, after an incredible turn-around from former United manager, Moyes, boosted by the superb form of Michel Antonio. Anthony Martial was denied by a great save from Fabianski early on. However, it was West Ham who took the lead right before halftime. The goal came from a freekick with Declan Rice powering a shot towards the goal, but it was blocked by Paul Pogba’s hand.  Antonio was unfazed from the spot and sent De Gea the wrong way. Mason Greenwood got an equaliser in the second half after a good team move.

Both sides had chances to win it, with Bowen being denied by De Gea and Rice curling just past the top corner and for United, substitute, Ighalo putting a near-post chance just wide. In the end neither side could find a winner and the point was a fair result, with United moving up to third and west Ham confirming their place in the Premier League for another season.

1.Up To Third

It was not a vintage United performance; however, the point takes them up to third and into a champions league spot for the first time since the 14th September. The turn-around in fortunes at Manchester United since January has been truly remarkable, and despite their unbeaten run being ended by Lampard’s Chelsea side in the FA cup semi-final, they are still unbeaten in their last 13 games in the premier league – Solskjaer’s best run in the competition! After Chelsea’s 5-3 defeat to Liverpool, all two of the remaining champions league spots are up for grabs with the Red Devils facing off against Leicester, in a winner-takes-all, last day of the season tie.

2. Greenwood On Fire

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In United’s preseason trip to Melbourne, Solskjaer made a very bold statement, that 17-year-old Mason Greenwood was the best finisher at the club. However, Solskjaer did not give the Yorkshireman his first Premier League start until December. Since then, Solskjaer has found it hard to leave him out, with Greenwood scoring 17 goals this season! Michael Owen’s incredible breakthrough season in 1997/98 is the only time a teenager has done better since the Premier League was formed in 1992. It’s not just Greenwood’s clinical shooting that makes him stand out, it’s the way he takes responsibility when other teammates shy away. He made his goal after some excellent intricate passing with Martial before creating himself the shooting chance and putting it past Fabianski with ease. The teenager is now a serious candidate for the England squad in the Euros next year.

3. One More Point!

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The Red Devils just need one more point from their last game of the season to secure champions league football! Their opponents, Leicester can only get champions league football if they win but United just need a draw. Leicester had appeared to be Liverpool’s closest rivals at one point this season and Champions League spot looked a cert; however, the Foxes have lost momentum after the restart and top scorer Jamie Vardy’s goal drought did not help the foxes as they now are 5th in the table and have to beat United to get into the top four. Manchester United go into the game unbeaten in the league for 13 games and having beaten Leicester 1-0 thanks to a Rashford penalty in the reverse fixture.

4. Hand of Pog

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After Declan Rice’s shot cannoned off Paul Pogba, there were some serious concerns as it looked as though the ball had hit the Frenchman’s head. However, Pogba had really saved it with his hands and fallen clutching his head to deceive the referee. The referee was fooled by Pogba’s acting; however, VAR could clearly see it was a penalty and they gave it. An example of a good decision by VAR, which are far and few between. Pogba could argue that he was protecting his face, but his hands were in an unnatural position and he did stop the shot from going towards goal. Pogba, after conceding the penalty was ridiculed by Antonio, the penalty scorer, who appeared to mock him – a very unsportsmanlike thing to do from the Englishman, who has been in form recently.

5. Final Day Delight

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Solskjaer said after the game that despite being disappointed not to get all three points, he believes his team have a fantastic chance on Sunday to secure a top four finish that appeared at one point incredibly unlikely. Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 10 premier league matches against the Foxes, who will be without Maddison, Soyuncu, Pereira and Chilwell, who are all key players for Leicester. The odds are incredibly in United’s favour, however in football anything can happen. If Manchester United were to lose, it would not be the end of their Champions league hopes as they are still in contention to win the Europa League, when it resumes in August. Whatever the outcome it has been a season of progress for Ole Gunar Solskjaer and Manchester United.

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