Manchester United host West Ham United at the Theatre of Dreams in their opening fixture of the 2017-18 Premier League season in what could prove to be an electric encounter.
Jose Mourinho had a disappointing Premier League last season which saw United finish sixth, but a cup double and Champions League qualification courtesy of Europa League triumph crucially kept the ball rolling forward for Mourinho in his first year at the club. Mourinho added Romelu Lukaku, Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic from rivals Chelsea to his ranks with the United manager knowing nothing less than a title challenge might leave him facing an uncertain future. The Red Devils look primed for bigger things in Mourinho’s usually successful second season if we go by history. They will certainly go into the opener with fairly high spirits, winning six out of seven pre-season games and a valiant defeat to Spanish giants Real Madrid in UEFA Super Cup.
A frustrating season saw West Ham outside top 10 as they struggled heavily to settle into their new home at the London Stadium. For much of last campaign, Hammers found themselves stuck in a rut and losing star man Dimitri Payet midway through the season and the way they did, certainly dampened the mood further for a while and distinct lack of goals saw them stumble to 11th place finish. Slaven Bilic did make some noteworthy and experienced additions to his squad in the transfer window which has their fans buoyant again. Former Red Devils’ striker Javier Hernandez joins Pablo Zabaleta, Sead Haksabanovic, Joe Hart and Marko Arnautovic to his ranks. However, Hammers have been easy to break down in last three friendlies as they conceded two goals to Werder Bremen and three each to Altona 93 and Manchester City.
There are no key debilitating injuries for Mourinho’s side. All players who were involved in pre-season are fit. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s release and Lukaku’s arrival means that the latter will be expected to provide the presence up front and score goals to propel United to their targets. Mourinho’s tactical set-up requires a solid holding midfielder and hence, Matic’s presence is important. Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young remain the only long-term absentees.
West Ham are without Manuel Lanzini after suffering a knock in training. Left back Aaron Cresswell, is a doubt while Sofiane Feghouli, Cheikhou Kouyate, Diafra Sakho, Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio are still recovering injuries sustained in last season. Out of the new signings, Arnautovic may have to wait for his debut but Chicharito is expected to start against his former club along with former rivals Hart and Zabaleta.
Manchester United (4-3-3): David De Gea; Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian; Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba; Henrik Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku.
West Ham United (3-4-2-1): Joe Hart; Angelo Ogbonna, Winston Reid, Jose Fonte; Pablo Zabaleta, Pedro Obiang, Mark Noble, Artur Masuaku; Andre Ayew, Robert Snodgrass; Javier Hernandez.
Manchester United 3-0 West Ham United.
This article is written by Vishwambhar Sholapur. What are your thoughts? Let us know by dropping a comment via our comments box below. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Google+, Instagram and like us on Facebook.