(Reuters) - A win over Manchester United on Sunday will go a long way towards helping West Ham United break into the Premier League’s top six, manager Manuel Pellegrini said on Friday.
West Ham beat United 3-1 at home last season and Pellegrini is hopeful his side can repeat that result with both teams currently locked on eight points in the table after five games.
United played their Europa League opener on Thursday, winning 1-0 at Kazakh side Astana, but Pellegrini does not think the visitors will be fatigued after the long trip and expects to see wholesale changes to their starting lineup.
“Manchester United played last night but they changed nine players so it will be a different team,” Pellegrini told reporters. “We’re in a good moment, so if we are playing against the big teams, we must show we can play in the same way.
“But that doesn’t mean we are going to beat United. We beat them 3-1 here and I hope we can get a win again.
“I never set a target for our team before the season. We have a very strong team in front of us, it will be a strong test against United. It is the only way we can get into the top six, demonstrating you are able to do it.”
West Ham defender Winston Reid will miss the game as he continues to recover from a knee injury while Pellegrini said he would make a late call on playmaker Manuel Lanzini.
After drawing a blank on his Premier League debut, striker Sebastien Haller has scored three goals in three league games and Pellegrini hailed their club-record signing’s all-round game.
“He’s a complete player because most of the strikers don’t work hard to recover but he does,” Pellegrini said.
“He’s not just a box player, he always comes back to play with midfielders. He will continue to improve and will be a successful player for us.”
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis