Manchester United tops West Ham in fourth straight win
Danny Welbeck’s first goal at Old Trafford since October 2012 was followed by a superb effort from Adnan Januzaj as United took command before the break on Saturday.
Substitute Ashley Young then produced the perfect first-time finish to Wayne Rooney’s layoff to ensure Carlton Cole’s late strike was nothing more than a consolation.
United started the game trying to avoid a third straight defeat at Old Trafford for the first time since 1979, though that never looked likely.
United provisionally moves up a spot to seventh. West Ham stays immediately above the relegation zone.
It was not all good news for United manager David Moyes as Welbeck departed with an injury early in the second half and Januzaj was booked for diving.
However, United’s winning streak equals its best since Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer and represents an encouraging entrance to the festive campaign, when United really needs to hit the accelerator if it is to mount any challenge.
A brilliant reaction save from West Ham goalkeeper Adrian to deny Tom Cleverley inside the first minute, followed by an extended period of possession without creating too much, hinted at another difficult afternoon for the Red Devils.
Yet the home supporters remained resolutely behind the team and United retained the confidence to attack.
And when Welbeck found the returning Rooney and was on hand to collect the return, he had sufficient self-belief to drive an effort goalward in the 26th minute.
Making his Premier League debut, Adrian was unable to stop the ball going under him.
Not that Welbeck was complaining. His first goal in this stadium in 427 days took him to six for the campaign, three times as many as he managed last season.
After that, the 18-year-old Januzaj took center stage. He received a rebuke from Mark Noble when he went down in the box, yet the West Ham man had levered him out of the way and was fortunate not to concede a penalty.
Within a minute, Januzaj was exchanging passes with Welbeck and powering home his first goal at Old Trafford in the 36th as James Collins was made to look foolish by the ease with which Januzaj stepped aside him.
In a mixed afternoon, Januzaj’s blatant dive by the touchline drew a deserved booking.
Welbeck’s departure 10 minutes after the restart with what appeared to be an ankle injury could add to an already lengthy list of absentees.
United do have options though, as substitute Javier Hernandez proved when he fired home from 12 yards, only for the effort to be harshly ruled out for offside.
The hosts did not need to wait long for their third though, with Young continuing his superb week by applying the finish to Rooney’s layoff in the 72nd.
Moyes took the opportunity to give hard-working full-back Patrice Evra a break.
However, it was the Frenchman’s replacement, Alexander Buttner, who lost his concentration to allow Cole to break the offside trap for the Hammers’ late strike in the 81st, which denied United its biggest home win of the season.