Why Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini must face West Ham

Marouane Fellaini Belgium

Manchester United would be advised to keep Marouane Fellaini and his combative qualities within their starting XI against West Ham United.

West Ham United are not as direct as they have been in the past, or as many people consider them to be under the guidance of Sam Allardyce.

The Hammers have a number of fine ball-players on their books – particularly this season after a productive summer transfer window in 2014 - and will not be overawed by a visit from Manchester United on Sunday.

The capital outfit are, however, physically imposing down the spine of their side and are not afraid to get stuck in when required.

Louis van Gaal will be aware of that and will have been planning accordingly.

His starting XI at Upton Park will need to blend graft with guile – something United have done well in the 2014/15 Premier League campaign.

One of those to have offered his considerable frame and combative qualities to the collective cause is Marouane Fellaini, with the Belgium international finally starting to justify his hefty price tag following a largely frustrating spell at Old Trafford.

He should expect to be thrust into action again against West Ham, with the Opta statistics below helping to highlight the important qualities he will add to Van Gaal’s ranks.

  Total TackleWon TackleDuel WonAerial WonBall RecoveryAppearancesMins Played
Marouane Fellaini 39 33 102 46 69 13 862
Daley Blind 28 23 61 24 61 11 990
Wayne Rooney 24 19 85 21 108 19 1,667
Michael Carrick 22 18 39 11 68 13 1,099
Ander Herrera 21 15 56 7 43 12 654
Juan Mata 18 14 49 2 79 20 1,470

Despite playing fewer minutes than many of his midfield colleagues, Fellaini is posting plenty of club-leading numbers in that area of the field.

He has made more tackles, won more challenges and thrown his weight around to good effect both on the floor and in the air.

United will require him to offer more of same against the Hammers, be that down the middle as a forward-thinking battering ram or in the middle of the park as a ball-winning disrupter of Allardyce’s plans.

Fellaini will be a useful asset against Alex Song, Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan, while posing problems to the likes of James Collins and Winston Reid at the back.

He will also help out at opposing ends of the field at set-pieces, with it important that someone of his stature poses a threat when United are over dead-balls and helps to keep the likes of Andy Carroll under wraps when the visitors find themselves on the back foot.

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