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West Ham United vs Man United: Fernandes vs Alvarez & Other Key Battles To Watch Out For

West Ham United will take on Manchester United at the London Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday.

Both teams come into this fixture off the back of decent results at the weekend. West Ham smashed Wolves 3-0 at home, while Manchester United held arch-rivals Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at Anfield. The Hammers are eighth in the table, just a point behind the seventh-placed Red Devils.

With the two teams raring to get some momentum going during the festive period of the season, let us take a look at the key battles that could define the outcome of this game.

#Mohammed Kudus vs Luke Shaw

West Ham boss David Moyes eased Mohammed Kudus into the Premier League following his summer switch from Ajax, and after taking some time to settle down, the attacker has become one of the first names on the teamsheet over the last two months. He weaved magic with a brace to help West Ham beat Wolves 3-0 at home last weekend, taking his tally to nine goals across all competitions this season.

With his movement, dribbling, pace and link-up play, Kudus could cause problems for Man United’s leaky defence. Luke Shaw, one of Erik ten Hag’s most trusted members of the Man United squad, will be tasked with the responsibility of keeping the Ghanaian quiet.

Shaw managed to tame Mohamed Salah at Anfield last weekend which will give him a lot of confidence heading into this game. The England international will have to avoid leaving spaces behind him for Kudus to thrive in. Given how defensively solid Shaw is, the West Ham attacker will have to be on his game to get the better of him.

#Bruno Fernandes vs Edson Alvarez

Bruno Fernandes missed the game against Liverpool through suspension, which gave him a much-needed rest. He is eligible to play against West Ham this coming Saturday, and considering how important the Portuguese is to the team, he should walk straight into Ten Hag’s starting XI.

The Man United skipper will be expected to start in the No.10 role and help the team stitch attacks with his creativity, vision and passing. Fernandes should be looking to find pockets of spaces, link up well with the forwards and hurt the Hammers. So, West Ham must do everything possible to keep Fernandes under wraps if they intend to keep a clean sheet, and the bulk of the responsibility could fall on the shoulders of Edson Alvarez.

Sitting as a shield in front of the back four, Alvarez must keep close tabs on the United skipper and restrict him from getting time on the ball. If the Mexican can stop Fernandes from influencing the game, West Ham’s chances of getting a positive result against Ten Hag’s side will become higher.

#Jarrod Bowen vs Raphael Varane

Jarrod Bowen has been in scintillating form this season, scoring in West Ham’s 3-0 win over Wolves to take his tally to 10 goals in 16 Premier League games. The England international has been fielded up front in Michail Antonio’s injury absence, impressing manager David Moyes with his flexibility. And he is expected to lead the Hammers’ attack when United visit the London Stadium at the weekend.

Stopping the in-form Bowen in attack is tough, as the West Ham forward is tricky and can use his deceptive pace to outrun defenders. This implies that Raphael Varane will have his work cut out on Saturday.

Having started a league fixture for the first time in the last two months, Varane produced a Man of the Match display for Man United against Liverpool at Anfield. He rolled back the years with his display, keeping a potent Liverpool attack at bay. The Frenchman along with Jonny Evans will have to be on their toes to stop Bowen from getting in goalscoring positions.

The clean sheet at Anfield should give Varane and Co. a lot of confidence when tackling Bowen’s threat.

Rohan Sengupta

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