DOUBLE BOOST AS UNITED LOOK TO CLOSE GAP ON CHELSEA

By on February 23, 2010

By Football Talk.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking to get his clubs Premier League campaign back on track tonight following their 3-1 defeat to Everton on Saturday. With Chelsea playing their champions league first leg this week, United have the chance to close the gap to just 1 point with victory over West Ham at Old Trafford.

The Manchester United boss openly admitted his side were outplayed in the second half against Everton and will be looking for a response from his players.  A home tie against a team battling relegation provides a great opportunity to put some pressure on the league leaders. Although West Ham will be full of confidence following back-to-back victories over Hull and Birmingham seeing the Londoners move up to 13th in the premier league table.

Ferguson will be able to play his first choice centre-back pairing for the first time since October. Both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have had a combination of suspensions and injuries recently meaning they have only played together in 6 of United’s 38 games this year. However, Ferdinand returns from a four-match suspension while Nemanja Vidic has recovered from a nerve problem in his calf so the pair can resume their partnership at the expense of Evans and Brown.

The disruption of one of the worlds best central defensive partnerships is seen as a key reason for United’s vulnerability at the back this year. They have let in 24 goals already, as many as they conceded in the whole of last season and two more than in 2007-08 campaign. I’m sure Man Utd fans will be glad to see Ferdinand and Vidic returning to steady the ship for the Premier League run-in as well as the Carling Cup Final and Champions League.

Team news

Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to make changes after the disappointing display against Everton, although his options are limited with Ryan Giggs injured, Nani still suspended and Anderson seemingly out of favour.

There has been speculation that Wayne Rooney will be rested tonight after looking tired against his old club on Saturday, with Ferguson also having one-eye on Sunday’s Carling Cup final. If Rooney is rested, Michael Owen should be given the chance to start with Dimitar Berbatov up front.

Wes Brown and Jonny Evans are expected to drop to the bench with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic likely to start.

West Ham will be without Benni McCarthy, Herita Ilunga and Danny Gabbidon, while Keiron Dyer is in contention after returning to training.

Gianfranco Zola will also be without long-term absentees Luis Boa Morte, Clum Davenport and Zavon Hines.

Probable Man Utd eleven:

Van der Sar, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Scholes, Fletcher, Valencia, Berbatov, Owen.

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