Daley Blind’s late equaliser saved United from suffering hammer blow at Upton Park. Despite escaping the defeat, United were poor throughout the game. The Reds found it difficult to get back to their usual playing style. United need to step up their game in every department if they are to finish in the top four places. Let us look at the five talking points from the match:

United are struggling when ball comes into the box

Manchester United knew exactly what they were getting into when they traveled to Upton Park. Despite knowing their aerial and crossing prowess, United struggled everytime the ball came into the box. Be it the first ball or the second ball, West Ham were winning them all. United struggled to mark their man properly and were leaving West Ham United attackers win the aerial battle unchallanged. Hence, it was no surprise to see West Ham open the scoring from a set piece situation through Cheikhou Kouyate.

The Reds are depending heavily on Degea

The Spaniard was United’s best player so far this season and United needed the shot stopper to be at his best once again to deny Valencia and his teammates scoring in the match. Particularly in the first half, Degea single handedly kept West Ham attackers at bay. May it be his hands or legs, Degea was once again at his best on Sunday night. If not for him, the match would have been over in the opening 45 minutes. Its imperative for Van Gaal to make his star man sign a new contract with the club.

Rooney needs to play up-front

Playing a man who has scored more than 200 goals in midfield may not be a wise decision. Especially considering how United are struggling to score in the matches, it is imperative for Van Gaal to make Rooney play up-top. If Rooney plays as a striker, United will not only have a proven goal scorer up-front, but they will also have an additional player to move the ball properly. Both Van Persie and Falcao are struggling to make the best use of the ball, so Rooney will give an extra outlet. Also Rooney will offer a lot of help in tracking back attackers.

Valencia did what United strikers failed to do

In the paper United attackers may look more stronger than West Ham United’s strikers. Nonetheless, on the field it was the East London clubs strikers did exactly what their manager asked from them, particularly Valencia. The Ecuadorian never stopped running with the ball. He was a constant threat everytime West Ham came forward. It was not just his attacking, but also his desire to close the ball down quickly. Everytime when United defenders or midfielders had the ball, Valencia closed them down so quickly and hardly gave them any time to think. However, on the other end, United strikers hardly closed their man quickly and allowed them to initiate attacks from the back easily.

Van Gaal should have started with Fellaini

It was surprising to see United not start the match with the big Belgian. With West Ham playing more physically, Fellaini would have been the first name on the starting line-up, but surprisingly Van Gaal left him out. The Belgian would have been a big threat for any team with his huge physical presence and his good heading abilities, but the Dutch manager for some reason benched him on the night. He showed what he can offer after coming on as a substitute by being a nuisance in the attacking third with his big physical presence. United caused more problems in West Ham box after Fellaini came on, so it was surprising to see Van Gaal not start the match with him.

Image courtesy: ESPN, Skysports and Mirror

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