Sunday sees Manchester United and West Ham kick off their seasons against each other with both teams coming off disappointing seasons in 2016/17 and will be looking to be starting off their seasons in strong fashion.
On Sunday, Jose Mourinho will begin his second season in charge of Manchester United and will be hoping to have a much better season in the Premiership than the previous one where Manchester United where they finished a disappointing sixth in the league. United have not made many changes to the team as one would expect from them but rather they have brought in three players to fill key positions in the team with Romelu Lukaku from Everton, Nemanja Matic from Chelsea and Victor Lindleof from Benfica. Lukaku will replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is the only major out-going from the squad from last season after suffering an ACL and MCL injury which forced United to not extend his contract past its expiry date.
Much more will expected of United this season as although they were able to go on a long undefeated streak throughout the season, they dropped too many points by drawing games as they drew a shocking thirteen games last season. United will be expected to at the very least challenge for the league title and at worst find their way into the top four spots this season, as they will not have the luxury of being in the Europa League to get themselves into the Champions League this season either.
Likewise, West Ham are also coming off a very disappointing season for the Hammers where they finished eleventh in the league. West Ham were hoping to do much in the league last season and build off their fantastic 2015/16 season where they finished seventh in the league and obtained a club record of seventy-two points. This was obviously not the case last season and the club found themselves in their debut season in the Olympic Stadium flirting with relegation after having to sell their star player in Dimitri Payet in January.
This season, the expectations will be much different and West Ham have looked to strengthen their team in different areas by bringing in Joe Hart on loan from Manchester City, Pablo Zabaleta on a free from Manchester City as well, Marko Arnautovic from Stoke City and Javier Hernandez from Bayer Leverkusen. West Ham are looking like a much stronger team this season and should be looking at a top half finish this season at the very least while attempting to challenge for the Europa League spots.
Eric Bailly and Phil Jones will be available for Manchester United after having to miss Tuesdays UEFA Super Cup game against Real Madrid due to suspension while Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young will be unavailable through injuries for the start of the season. It will be expected that Lukaku, Matic and Lindleof will be making their Premier league debuts as well.
Aaron Cresswell should be available for West Ham along with captain Mark Noble while Michail Antonio, Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho and Cheikhou Kouyate will all be missing as they are all recovering from injuries. It should be expected that Joe Hart and Javier Hernandez will be starting for the Hammers while Zabaleta and Arnautovic could also make their debuts on Sunday as well.
Man United (3-5-2): De Gea; Valencia; Bailly; Lindleof; Smalling; Darmian; Matic; Pogba; Herrera; Mkhitaryan, Lukaku
West Ham (4-3-1-2): Hart; Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Fonte, Masuaku; Noble, Obiang; Ayew, Lanzini, Arnautovic; Hernandez.
It seems almost written in the script that if Hernandez does play against United on his debut, that he’ll actually score against his former club. Meanwhile, Lukaku has a fantastic scoring record against West Ham and he’ll certainly want to continue that record against West Ham but United are at home and they’ll be looking to be making a strong start to their league campaign, the team is much stronger than West Hams on the first team and on the bench, and it is hard to imagine that United won’t be coming out strong looking for the win.
Prediction – Manchester United 3 – West Ham 1