Ex pro hints United will be brought back down to earth by West Ham

Upton Park

Manchester United's midweek victory and Champions League progression merely papers over the cracks, says Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson.

Manchester United's glorious 3-2 aggregate victory versus Olympiacos at Old Trafford earlier this week ensured their progression into the Champions League quarter-final where they were drawn against tournament favourites, Bayern Munich, during a ceremony in Nyon, Switzerland, earlier today, Friday.

While the club's players, coaching staff and their entire fan-base celebrated their continued status as a competitor on the European stage after witnessing Robin van Persie return a rare Red Devils knockout stage hat-trick, Sky Sports pundit and former midfielder Paul Merson believes the triumph merely "papered over the cracks" and that their stuttering Premier League form will continue when they take on West Ham United at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday afternoon.

"Despite their win over Olympiacos, I think United are still papering over the cracks," he said. "If David de Gea didn't have an absolute blinder on Wednesday and Phil Jones didn't have a good game they would have been in trouble.

"People can go on about Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney and how good they were but what about the others? If De Gea doesn't make those saves and Olympiacos score a goal they're through and all of a sudden there's absolute carnage at the club."

van Persie took his season tally to 15 on Wednesday, yet has not regularly featured for David Moyes as he has received numerous injury setbacks including a groin strain in November, a hamstring injury the following month and, most recently, a knee complaint.

"There'll be no Robin van Persie on Saturday but Danny Welbeck will probably play anyway because he's doing alright," commented Merson.

Their shared history suggests a win for the visitors as the Hammers have been unable to score in six of their last nine Premier League match-ups against United, while the Stretford side are undefeated in their last ten against West Ham.

However, West Ham will be looking to reverse recent form. Unbeaten in February with 12 points out of 12 to show for their efforts, they have twice been defeated in March.

"I'm going to go for a 1-1 draw here because West Ham is a hard place to go. West Ham are in a decent spell and are hard to beat. United aren't really going anywhere in the league and are concentrating on the Champions League."

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