Secretly, I am sure David Moyes has been waiting for one of his attack minded players to be sidelined for a period of time.
Moyes has taken a battering of late, about a perceived lack of knowledge, or faith, in what his best team actually is. It has appeared that stellar names have preceded the names of the young or inconsistent, from the 'shock' of Danny Welbeck, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand being named in the starting line up in the second leg against Olympiakos.
That second leg has been seen as some as a nadir in Moyes' season, and reign, at Old Trafford, with United's most compelling display of the season albeit against very poor opposition, the worst left in the competition. It also saw United's main striker carried off with suspected knee ligament trouble, which was of first thought to merely be a knock.
Last night's statement from the club however suggests Robin van Persie will struggle to play another game this season though. An injury of "four to six weeks" at this stage in the season is devastating, for both club and player. Unless United miraculously reach the European Cup final in May it is unlikely that Van Persie will rush back into action and run the risk of antagonising an injury prior to the World Cup come June.
This may however, give Moyes less of a selection headache for the forth-coming fixtures. On the evidence of Wednesday night against Olympiakos, it would be a very strange move to not start with Welbeck once more. The pace and power he offers, running in the channels and making space for the likes of Wayne Rooney is what United have lacked most of the season. Welbeck has also had a good season in front of goal as well, netting nine times in the league (not bad when you are third choice, often played out wide and have had to contend with a number of injuries throughout the season).
The absence of Van Persie should give Moyes the opportunity to mix things up slightly. He has the choice of Welbeck or Rooney as the centre-forward, while this period will hopefully see Juan Mata moved back in to his preferred number 10 position.
Mata has had a difficult start to his United career, often played out wide where his lack of pace has become evident. He is a classic number 10 and should be allowed to prove he can play in this position, given that he is United's most expensive purchase of all time.
Problems still inhibit in the middle of the park though. There seems little option that Giggs will play three days after his last appearance, even though his fitness was telling on Wednesday. It would make sense to pop Tom Cleverley in the midfield for this trip to West Ham, as he offers energy and mobility. If he could just be persuaded to bring the ball forward more often, he could once more make that centre midfield position his own.
My gut feeling is that Moyes will persist with a 4-4-2, even though it doesn't suit the players he has at his disposal. If he does stick with it, it will give Mata the chance to be in the hole once more, but Danny Welbeck is not a natural left-sided midfielder.
He needs to be pushed as far forward as possible, in a 4-2-3-1 situation. Playing the left of the three behind a striker means he can run the channels without the constant need to track a full back. With two midfielders that United currently have, less expectation should be brought on to them for creativity purposes. It would be better to have Carrick plus one other sitting in front of the back four, protecting and covering for the full backs when necessary. Let's attack teams and play on the front foot.
Van Persie is a top, top striker. His absence however, has opened the door for Moyes to try something different, be a bit more boisterous and have a bit of variety to his play. He has players that can all float and play quick one-touch football (Adnan Januzaj, Mata and Shinji Kagawa to name three) along with the energetic and mobile Rooney and Welbeck.
Utilising these five players to play football and control play while on the front foot is exactly what is needed, maximising United's attacking strength and avoiding pressure on the weak midfield and defence.
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