1. Memphis Depay
After playing only 22 minutes in Manchester United’s draw against Leicester City, Depay will likely be back to the Louis Van Gaal’s starting lineup.
Depay replaced Wayne Rooney, who has been but a shadow of himself this year. Van Gaal is likely to favor the young Depay, who also hasn’t been performing like in his PSV days yet, but can deliver against West Ham’s defense.
Where Depay will play will depend on Van Gaal’s choice of formation. If the manager decides to go with the same 3-5-2 Manchester played against Leicester, Depay will just take Rooney’s position and play up front with Anthony Martial.
Should Van Gaal go back to his preferred 4-2-3-1, Depay will go back to playing as a left winger. Containing should prove to be a hellish task for West Ham’s right back Carl Jenkinson.
2. Anthony Martial
The 19-year-old striker hit the ground running when he arrived in Manchester, scoring a goal in his first Premier League match and then two more on his first start. Since then (Matchday 6) Martial has not scoredin the Premier League for the Red Devils.
Nonetheless, this lack of goals might just be a lack of finishing. Martial has been relentless on offense trying hard to get in position to score, but he is only averaging 1.2 shots per game in the Premier League.
Should he started taking more chances at the opposition’s goal, the Irons better be prepared to defend themselves.
3. Bastian Schweinsteiger
The German was United’s best player in the draw against Leicester, scoring the game-tying goal. Schweinsteiger is the glue to United’s midfield and creation. He might not lead the team in goals or assists, but he is invaluable to United’s success.
Schweinsteiger is averaging over 60 passes per match, and completing them at an 85.5 percent rate. West Ham’s best shortcut to a positive result could be to pressure the defensive midfielder and make him a non-factor in the match. If they fail to do that, Schweinsteiger’s passing ability and leadership could prove to be the difference for United in this matchup.
4. Marcos Rojo
There is still no official word from Van Gaal or United if Rojo will be able to play against West Ham. However, his fitness will be a key factor in Van Gaal’s decision of which formation to use.
Rojo’s absence against Leicester was what forced the Dutch manager to improvise with three defenders and wing-backs rather than wingers.
Should Rojo play, he will allow Depay and the other offensive players with more creative freedom, which in hand could turn out to be the team creating way more scoring chances than they did against Leicester.
Rojo is United’s leading tackler with an average of 3.2 tackles per match in the Premier League.
5. Chris Smalling
Arguably United’s best player this season, Smalling will attempt to continue his fine form in the Premier League.
Smalling leads the team in clearances with 6.4 per match and blocks with .5 per game. The 26-year-old has also given a hard time for opposing strikers, even the most skilled ones. According to WhoScored.com’s statistics, Smalling only allows an opposing player to dribble past him once every two matches.
It seems tough to believe that Smalling’s run of good games could end at the hands of Andy Carroll. However, we will only find out how everything pans out on Saturday.