Keep Scholes quiet and West Ham might have a chance

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West Ham travel to Manchester for the late Saturday game against United in desperate need of a point or three, but current form and past meetings at Old Trafford suggest the Hammers will enter the international break without either.

The last time West Ham lost their opening two games was back in 1988 - they went on to get relegated.

The last time they lost three games on the trot was at the start to a season was back in 1977 and, as you can guess, were relegated that season as well, but after Tuesday’s night narrow win over an organized Oxford United Avram Grant's team have at least remembered how to win a game.

Hopefully with the confidence that should bring they can go to Manchester and put up a better fight than they did in their last away game at Aston Villa

West Ham's last five visits to Old Trafford have yielded just one win and four defeats, the win was in the infamous Carlos Tevez season, in the last game of the season when United already champions rested a few players.

In that period of time United have scored ten goals, West Ham only twice. Last season's game was only in February and the Hammers lost 3-0 with Wayne Rooney scoring two and Michael Owen getting the other.

I can’t imagine that Avram will go 4-3-3 as he has done in the last two league games, he likes to play with two wingers either side of Carlton Cole, as this will leave West Ham short in midfield. I would play a central three of Radoslav Kovac, Scott Parker and Mark Noble and tell Noble to sit on Paul Scholes, who seems to be a better player now then he was in his so-called prime.

Wide of them I would drop Pablo Barrera for Luis Boa Morte, as he is more defensive in his play than I’ve seen from the Mexican, on the right I would go for Kieron Dyer as he has the pace to join up with Cole or give Patrice Evra something to worry about.

The defence is West Ham’s achilles heel with players off form, injured or coming back from injury. Herita Ilunga at left back and Julien Faubert at right back have no real competition for places but in the centre is where they are struggling.

Matthew Upson took a blow to the face against Bolton, James Tomkins is still young and has a lot to learn, Danny Gabbidon has been out for nearly two years and Tal Ben Haim and Winston Reid are new to the club. Reid can play right back as well but he needs a few more weeks to get to the pace of Premier League football before he can be judged.

The only way I can see West Ham gaining anything from this game is to flood midfield and stifle Darren Fletcher and Scholes, who pull the strings, and not get caught too far forward with too many players as Man U can break at pace and are very clinical when doing so.

Their draw with Fulham weekend just shows that you can get joy against them especially at set pieces but United don’t usually slip up two games on the trot.

The Hammers may even be bottom before they kick off although I can’t see Wigan getting any change out of Tottenham away and, I know I keep saying this, but even if we lose and are bottom, the time to start worrying is if the situation hasn’t changed by the end of November. Only then once the team has bedded in and played some of the so called easier teams will it be right to judge, panic or both.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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