Manchester United can break in to the Champions League places on Wednesday night when they welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford in the Premier League.
United’s remarkable streak of 19 games without defeat came to an end at the weekend, where they were beaten 3-1 by Chelsea in the FA Cup semi final.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arguably had one eye on the game against the Hammers when selecting his starting eleven at Wembley, with the Norwegian coming in for criticism for his personnel changes.
However, despite missing out on the chance to reach his first cup final as Manchester United boss, the blow of the defeat will have been softened for Solskjaer following 3rd place Leicester’s heavy loss at Spurs.
That leaves the door ajar for United to move above the Foxes and in to the top four for the first time since September should they beat West Ham.
For the Hammers, an emphatic victory over fellow relegation candidates Watford last time out leaves those at the London Stadium breathing a sigh of relief – although not impossible that they could be relegated, that crucial victory over the Hornets makes it improbable.
That is a welcome break from the pressure for gaffer David Moyes, who has added incentive for success as he returns to the club from which he was sacked as manager in 2014.
A win isn’t essential to secure survival, but 3 points will mathematically clear West Ham of danger.
Aston Villa, languishing in the Premier League relegation zone, are the Hammers’ opponents on the final day of the season – Moyes will want to eliminate any lingering doubts of relegation by the time that one rolls around.
Manchester United will need to tighten up at the back if they are to avoid relative embarrassment against West Ham, with Harry Maguire’s performance coming in for criticism last time out – he will be keen to make amends.
However, he won’t be partnered by Eric Bailly in defence, with the Ivorian unable to feature following a clash of heads with Maguire at Wembley which saw him stretchered off in a neck brace and taken to hospital.
Fellow centre backs Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe won’t feature as they continue to recover from injury.
Solskjaer was left light in the left back department following United’s last Premier League outing versus Southampton, with both Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams picking up knocks.
Shaw is likely to miss the game with West Ham as he continues to nurse an ankle injury sustained against his former club, whilst Williams could come back in to the fold depending on how he’s recovered from his head injury.
For West Ham, David Moyes is likely to go for the same eleven which so emphatically dispatched Watford last time out, with the in-form Michail Antonio likely to be preferred to Sebastien Haller up front.
Midfielder Robert Snodgrass and defender Ryan Fredericks will miss out as they remain on the treatment table.
Manchester United v West Ham United is a 6pm kick off on Wednesday, July 22.