Sunday 25 September 2016

Louis van Gaal wary of West Ham strength as lights go down on Upton Park

Published 09/05/2016 | 22:36

Louis van Gaal's Manchester United won 2-1 in an FA Cup sixth-round replay at Upton Park last month
Louis van Gaal's Manchester United won 2-1 in an FA Cup sixth-round replay at Upton Park last month

Louis van Gaal is looking to dampen a second West Ham farewell to Upton Park inside a month when he takes his top-four chasing Manchester United to east London on Tuesday night.

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The fixture will mark the last at the Hammers' current home ahead of their summer move to the Olympic Stadium on a night where emotions among everyone involved with the club will be sky high.

But Van Gaal's United side go there knowing victory in their final three games of the season would mean a top-four finish and an FA Cup trophy, with neighbours Manchester City now in their sights.

United won 2-1 in an FA Cup sixth-round replay at Upton Park on April 13, in what was the final game at the ground for the famous competition.

And now Van Gaal, whose saw the Red Devils win 1-0 at Norwich on Saturday lunchtime, is more interested in taking a valuable three points than setting out with the ambition of spoiling another momentous evening for their hosts.

Asked if United can use the emotion of the night against West Ham, the Dutchman replied: "Yes it is a big night. I think the players shall feel that also.

"Tuesday we have to play against an opponent who says goodbye to the stadium. So they won't want to lose in their own stadium.

"They have already lost to Man United in the FA Cup match. That is also history. That is not good for us. And West Ham United is a very good team.

"We have a lot of respect for West Ham. I think it is a historical big club in England and so we don't want to spoil their party but we need the three points and that is different."

Marouane Fellaini was one of the best players on the park as he scored in United's recent cup win at West Ham - but the Belgium international is still serving out a three-match ban and will be forced to sit out this time around.

Van Gaal conceded losing the midfielder could have a detrimental effect on his side's defensive capabilities, especially if they come up against Andy Carroll.

"Yes that is true," he replied when asked about Fellaini's absence, given he marked Carroll at every West Ham set-piece in that game.

"We are normally the smallest team in the Premier League so we always have problems with set plays.

"We have to cope with that and you are right, I can not deny that. It is the first time we are talking about our opponent and not about my sacking! Thank you, thank you for that.

"Yes. I am very worried about that. I am always organising. We always have a meeting about that - every game - and it also takes a long time to organise it well."

Both Daley Blind and Marcus Rashford were left behind for the trip to Norwich as Van Gaal looked to rest his most weary troops, and he also lost Anthony Martial in the warm-up at Carrow Road before Matteo Darmian was stretchered off early on with an ankle injury.

"That always depends on the data of my fatigue specialist," he replied when asked if Blind and Rashford would return at West Ham.

"I have to decide then on the data of my fatigue specialist who I am taking with me. It is always like that. It can happen that I leave players at home as they are too tired.

"At Norwich the difference between last week and today, it was six degrees or something and now it is 25 degrees. There is a big difference and you have seen it on the faces of the players, not only Man United but also those of Norwich."

It also remains to be seen if Martial will be fit to return, after Van Gaal confirmed it was more a precaution to not play him at Norwich.

"I cannot say that (he will come back) as we have to wait," he added.

"We have to wait if his muscle is still tight as I don't take any risks as he is a very important player. We don't want a rupture. That is very important for us."

Press Association

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