By Kiran Thakare
- Season defining week for Louis Van Gaal and Manchester United
- Place in FA Cup semi-finals at stake
- Mata suspended
Manchester United gear up for crucial seven days, as they face three crucial fixtures in different competitions which can decide their season.
The first test is in form of West Ham United in the quarter-finals of The Emirates FA cup at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Louis Van Gaal’s men would be looking to bounce back from a crushing defeat against Liverpool in the first leg last 16 fixture of Europa League on Thursday. The Red Devils defeated Shrewsbury Town in the fifth round to reach the quarter-finals.
On the other hand West Ham are enjoying a very good season under the new manager Slaven Bilic. The Hammers sit fifth in the Premier League one place ahead of Manchester United. They defeated Blackburn in the fifth round to set-up the tie against United at Old Trafford.
Louis Van Gaal confirmed that many players will be returning in the month of March. Juan Mata is suspended for this fixture due to the red card he collected against West Brom last week.
Bastian Schweinsteiger made a shock return against Liverpool and he will be in contention to face the Hammers. Antonio Valencia enjoyed 45 minutes with reserves and could make bench for the game.
Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Wayne Rooney are the only absentees due to injury. There were no injuries from the game against Liverpool and Van Gaal will have numerous options.
David De Gea will surely start between the sticks. The back four will comprise of Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Guillermo Varela and Marcos Rojo.
Morgan Schneiderlin will pair up with Marouane Fellaini in the centre of the park. The attacking frontline will include Memphis Depay, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard with Anthony Martial leading the line.
Slaven Bilic has done a very good job with West Ham this season. They are in contention of finishing in the top four positions in Premier League.
They showed their fighting spirit as they came back from two goals down against Everton to win the match in their last Premier League fixture.
They are two points ahead of Manchester United in Premier League table. They went home with a point when they last met Red Devils at Old Trafford this season. They have a good knack of beating the big teams this season in all competitions.
Dimitri Payet has been a sensational signing for West Ham. The Frenchman has been the leading scorer for his team this term. He dictates the play for the London side in the final third. He will be a danger man for the Red Devils.
The likes of Lanzini, Antonio and Enner Valencia have also been crucial for Bilic as they have chipped in with crucial goals for the team. Andy Carroll can cause problems to Blind and Smalling with his physical stature if he leads the line for the visitors.
The Red Devils will be looking at FA Cup as their only realistic chance for silverware so the game on Sunday will be huge for Manchester United.