By Mark Weasley
Manchester United begin the quest to win the English Premier League with a clash against West Ham at Old Trafford on Sunday. The 20-time English champions are being tipped for the title alongside Manchester City, after a summer of wise spending, and against The Hammers on Sunday, United should expect to win as we were unbeaten against the East Londoners last term.
United finished 6th last season, in what was a difficult first league season for Mourinho, but the fact that he always wins the league in his second season is a pointer to the fact that a first Premier League title in five years could make its way to Old Trafford next May. We take a look at the match preview for the clash which kicks off on Sunday, 13th August, 2017 at 16:00 BST.
Summer signings, Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic are in line to make their Premier League debut for the Red Devils. The trio started the last match against Real Madrid putting in a decent shift, though we lost 2-1 eventually.
Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are back with the team as they were suspended for the clash in Macedonia and should get to feature at some point. The likes of Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young and Luke Shaw are still absent as they suffered different injuries towards the tail end of last season. Below is the full squad expected to participate in the season opener.
The teams had different pre-season campaigns. While United’s was good, West Ham didn’t have the best of preparation heading into the season. United headed to the USA for the first leg of our pre-season tour, winning matches against the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake while also winning matches against Sampdoria and Valenrega. West Ham headed to Austria for a warm weather camp hoping to blood in new players such as Joe Hart, Javier Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic.
Slaven Bilic’s men recorded a goalless draw with Sturm Grad before losing to Fulham. They then travelled to Germany and lost to Alstona 93 before finishing their pre-season tour with a 3-0 loss to Manchester City in Iceland.
Head to Head
United are unbeaten in three matches against the Olympic Stadium outfit, winning two and drawing one. In the first tie last season, Zlatan scored a late equalizer to cancel out Diafra Sakho who had put West Ham ahead. Just three days later in the EFL Cup, United ran out 4-1 winners courtesy of braces form Ibrahimovic and Martial while later on in the season, Zlatan and Juan Mata ensured we won 2-0 on our first visit to the London Stadium.
Romelu Lukaku will face his favourite opponents. He has scored in nine consecutive matches against West Ham and was a scourge for the Hammers in the colours of Everton. Former Red Devil, Javier Hernandez is set for his West Ham debut. The Mexican is a fans favourite at Old Trafford after four highly successful years with United, and should get a good reception from both sets of fans.
Here’s the Man United’s provisional squad for the West Ham game: De Gea, Romero, J Pereira, Valencia, Darmian, Blind, Jones, Bailly, Smalling, Lindelof, Tuanzebe, Matic, Carrick, Fellaini, Herrera, McTominay, Pogba, Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Mata, A Pereira, Martial, Rashford, Lukaku