FootballManchester United

Clean Sweep

Man United beat West Ham for third time this season 1-0

Still alive

Manchester United kept their slim title hopes alive with a 1-0 win over West Ham on Sunday.

It was a string of good fortune that gave the Reds the victory after an own goal from Craig Dawson helped United to the win.

Following Manchester City’s 3-0 win at Fulham yesterday, this was basically a must-win game for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

With this win, the Red Devils move back into second place, a point ahead of Leicester City.

United still sits 14 points back of City in the table and will need to run the gambit and get some help to win the league title.

It’s the third win this season in all competitions for the Reds against West Ham.

David Moyes’ side is now three points back of Chelsea for a Champions League berth next season.

Game Story

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had the good fortune of Marcus Rashford returning from an ankle injury.

The Manchester man made an immediate impact in this one.

Four minutes in, and Luke Shaw and Rashford combined brilliantly down the left flank.

Mason Greenwood latched onto Shaw’s cross but scuffed his effort as the chance went awry.

Rashford had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring in the 25th minute.

A delightful bending cross from Greenwood sailed over Issa Diop’s head towards Rashford at the back post.

His header, though, glanced just wide.

The chances kept coming United’s way in the first half, but the Reds failed to do anything with it.

On the half-hour mark, Shaw sent Greenwood down the left inside channel.

The young striker got away from Declan Rice, drilling a low ball towards the near post, which was gathered in by Lukas Fabianski in the Hammers goal.

Fabianski kept the game scoreless with some brilliant goalkeeping seven minutes later.

Bruno Fernandes caught the Hammers napping on the counter, finding Greenwood, who cut into the box to fire a fierce drive that Fabianski deflected onto the post and out.

The Hammers keeper made another comfortable save in the 39th minute off a weak header from Rashford.

Into the second half, a lucky break gave the Reds the lead in the 53rd minute.

A Bruno Fernandes corner towards the near post appeared to get slightly flicked by Scott McTominay.

That flick went straight to Craig Dawson as the ball seemed to just hit his head before going backwards into the goal leaving Fabianski no chance.

Lucky or not, United had the lead.

That goal seemed to light a fire in both teams, who looked much livelier after that.

 In the 60th minute, Fernandes had tons of space to fire a shot from 20 yards out, but his low drive was palmed away by Fabianski.

David Moyes’ side was not without their opportunities either.

In the 61st minute, Jarrod Bowen’s cross found Tomas Soucek, but the Czech international couldn’t steer his effort on target.

Bowen came close in the 64th minute off a lovely cross from Aaron Cresswell, but his header went wide though the flag was up anyway for offside.

Greenwood nearly added some insurance in the 77th minute.

The striker surged forward on the break as his left-footed drive from the edge of the box beat Fabianski but smashed against the post.

Substitute Said Benrahma sped past Daniel James two minutes later, finding fellow substitute Manuel Fanzine.

The Argentine laid it off to Soucek, but United skipper Harry Maguire was in the proper position to cut out the chance.

United hung on from there as they were able to come away with three points.

Man of the Match

After scoring ten goals a season ago, Mason Greenwood’s had a rough spell during this Premier League campaign.

At the ripe old age of 19, there’s still plenty of growing pains, but tonight may have been his best performance of the season.

The youngster fired eight shots and was unlucky not to find the back of the net.

Only the goalkeeping of Fabianski and the woodwork prevented him from getting his name on the scoresheet.

Greenwood’s speed on the counter was evident as he had the Hammers on their heels throughout the match.

He had 52 total touches in the game, including eight inside West Ham’s penalty area with two chances created.

He’s still got a long way to become a prolific goalscorer, but he showed tonight he has the potential.

Too little too late?

If United misses out on the Premier League title this season, there are two significant areas they’ll look back on.

The first I’ve touched on before is their dismal run against the ‘Big Six’ where they’ve squandered 13 points.

The other is their poor start to the season.

United suffered three defeats in their opening six Premier League fixtures.

At the time, it didn’t seem like much, seeing how early it was but looking at their situation now, that could very well be the reason they go another season without a Premier League crown.

Since those six matches, the Reds have only lost one of their last 23 EPL encounters.

Struggling against the big boys

If West Ham misses out on a Champions League berth, they’ll know exactly where they went wrong.

As good as David Moyes’ side has been at times, they’ve not fared well against teams above them in the table.

The Hammers have lost 50% of their 12 Premier League games against sides starting the day above them in the table.

They’ve failed to cease on opportunities all season to gain ground on their opponents.

Cleaning Up

It may not be as dominant as their rivals at Man City, but United’s defence was pretty solid again tonight.

The Reds have now kept four successive Premier League clean sheets for the first time in over three years.

Despite being on their heels at times in the second half, United’s backline didn’t concede a single shot on Dean Henderson’s goal.

Getting by with help from your Foes

Manchester United has been the beneficiary of some defensive errors this season from their opponents.

Leicester City has created the most own goals in the league this season (4). Man United is right behind them in second (3).

Dawson’s own goal was only his second ever in his Premier League career.

Setting up shop

One of Man United’s most vital attributes this season has been their play in dead ball situations.

Including penalties, only Chelsea (17) has scored more goals off set pieces in the Premier League this season than Man United (16).

However, 50% of those goals did come from the penalty spot.

Managers Words

Following the match, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his side never seems to make life easy on themselves.

“As expected, they are always going to make it hard for you. We could have been more comfortable towards the end as we had a few decent chances to finish it off – we like to make it hard for ourselves.

“We created massive opportunities, but the final pass or shot wasn’t good enough. It could have been two or three easily – but then it could have ended up in our net at the end as they are a threat.”

Next Up

The Reds will shift their focus now to the Europa League as they travel to the San Siro to face AC Milan on Thursday.

Both sides drew 1-1 in the opening leg at Old Trafford last week.

Thursday’s kickoff from Milan is at 8 pm. (JSL).

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