Manchester United visit West Ham this weekend for a tricky away trip after a European away game.
We have been here before. It’s the typical fixture where the deck is stacked against United, with the home team having a full week’s rest.
Except this is the rare case where Manchester United will actually hold an advantage.
Thanks to their Jesse Lingard inspired strong finish to last season, West Ham qualified for the Europa League.
This presents the Hammers with a tricky match away at Dinamo Zagreb tonight, the team which knocked Jose Mourinho out of the competition last season.
Little time to rest
West Ham’s managers and players are flying out to Croatia, a further trip than United had to Switzerland, for this evening’s 5.45pm kick-off.
The squad will return to London in the late hours of Friday and have just two days to prepare for Sunday’s 2pm game with Manchester United, one of which may be a rest day.
United’s players meanwhile have two extra days of preparation for the weekend’s game.
The midweek defeat on an astroturf pitch was not ideal for United’s lead-in to this fixture, mentally or physically.
But the situation has aligned fairly well for United to take on West Ham this weekend feeling fresher.
When United lost 2-0 away at West Ham in September 2019, it came days after a tricky Europa League win over Astana at Old Trafford, while the Hammers had a free week to prepare.
The challenge of playing twice a week including European away trips is a scenario Manchester United’s players are used to.
West Ham’s players are not used to it, and they will also be missing suspended forward Michail Antonio for the fixture.
Whether they win or lose in Croatia tonight, the real winners could be Manchester United. There will be no excuses for poor performance this weekend.
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