Solskjaer challenges United players to bounce back from FA Cup defeat and secure Champions League spot

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged his players to bounce back from their FA Cup defeat at Chelsea and finish the job of securing Champions League football for next season.

United need only to avoid defeat in their last two games to guarantee a place in the top four – a feat that was improbable at the start of the year. On New Years Day, United were five points behind Chelsea and 14 points behind Leicester City.

“We’ve got ourselves into a fantastic position, probably a better position than anyone hoped for,” Solskjaer said to the club’s official website.

“A few weeks ago, we were probably thinking if we can go into the Leicester game and win it, then that gives us a chance. Now, of course, if we can win on Wednesday and draw with Leicester in the last one, we’re still through.”

Manchester United are unbeaten in their past 12 Premier League games. If they avoid defeat tonight, it will be Solskjaer’s longest undefeated run since becoming manager.

United have lost only two of their 23 Premier League home matches against the Hammers, winning 19. Solskjaer played in both of those defeats.

Solskjaer refuses to get drawn into De Gea debate

The form of David De Gea has dominated discussion since Sunday. The Spaniard’s blunders cost his team a place in the FA Cup Final and many believe it is time to drop him in favour of Sergio Romero.

Some have questioned whether De Gea should have a place at the club at all, with Dean Henderson looking ready for the number one spot.

His manager, however, has refused to get drawn into the debate.

“We are not going to talk about individuals. No one here is going to feel that we put more pressure on them.”

“David is mentally strong enough to know that his job is to perform in training the next day and be ready for the games.”

Despite his poor form, should De Gea manage a clean sheet this evening, he will surpass Peter Schmeichel’s Premier League club record of 112.

Moyes’ returns to his unhappy place.

“Ole had a difficult start, but the difference between Ole and me is that he’s being given time”, former Old Trafford boss Moyes said ahead of this evening’s match.

Fans on social media were not convinced, arguing that Moyes inherited a title winning team, whereas Solskjaer was handed a team devoid of style, philosophy and quality, having been insidiously torn to pieces by Moyes, Van Gaal and Mourinho.

Moyes’ record against Manchester United doesn’t do much to convince that time was the only factor. In 27 attempts, he has only managed four victories, and has never won away at Old Trafford in the Premier League.

Moyes, undoubtedly, would love to put that record to bed tonight.

West Ham on form, but not safe

West Ham are looking to win three consecutive league matches for the first time since the final three league fixtures of last season.

Despite a vastly superior goal difference to Watford and Aston Villa, they need a point from their remaining two games to be mathematically safe from relegation.

West Ham are looking to complete their first league double over United since 2006-07. They won September’s reverse fixture 2-0 under the guidance of Manuel Pellegrini before he was sacked in December.

A player in form is Michail Antonio, who can become the first West Ham player to score in three consecutive league matches since Marko Arnautovic in December 2017.

Team news

Solskjaer confirmed that only Eric Bailly is likely to be missing from tonight’s match, following a clash of heads with teammate Harry Maguire in the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Sunday.

United are anticipated to return to what has become their first eleven, with Matic returning to midfield alongside Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes. Luke Shaw is expected to return to left back.

West Ham have no new injury concerns. Robert Snodgrass remains their only absentee.

Where and when can I watch it?

Manchester Utd v West Ham is live at 6pm on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League.

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