Slaven Bilic’s West Ham United travel to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, for their first game of the 2017/18 Premier League season. Both sides have spent big this transfer window, resulting in immense pressure on both managers’ shoulders, not only to have a successful season but also to get off to a good start. Transfer Business:
Jose Mourinho’s side have once again splashed the cash this transfer window, having spent over £140m on three players: World class striker Romelu Lukaku who arrived from Everton for £75m, young defender Victor Lindelof who was acquired from Benfica for £30m and title winning defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic who came from Chelsea for £40m
Despite scoring 17 Premier League goals last season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed 18 big chances and often failed to take the opportunities to earn his side another two points.
Lukaku is the archetypal Mourinho forward: tall, strong and clinical inside the penalty area and with a 28% conversion rate last season compared to Zlatan’s 20%, as well as scoring 25 league goals, the 24-year-old will almost certainly improve the Red Devils, while once again surpassing 20 league goals.
Last campaign Eric Bailly performed brilliantly, however failed to find a consistent centre back partner, the signing of Lindelof will undoubtedly solve that problem.
The Swedish 23-year-old is adept with the ball at his feet, dominant in the air and intelligent, and will become the perfect defensive partner for Eric Bailly for years to come.
Finally, United somehow managed to snatch Nemanja Matic from title winning Chelsea. The Serbian international was pivotal in both of Chelsea’s recent title triumphs, with his physicality and positional intelligence freeing up many of his teammates to venture forward.
In Mourinho’s side this will likely be the case with both Paul Pogba and Ander Hererra, who will help to provide the goals from midfield they lacked last season.
Along with the three impressive acquisitions United got rid of some dead weight, as Wayne Rooney moved back to Everton and Adnan Januzaj departed to Real Sociedad.
The Hammers have also heavily invested so far this summer, having signed Javier Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic for around £36m. Hernandez arrived from Bayer Leverkusen for £16m and has already proven himself as an exceptional finisher in the Premier League from his time at Sunday’s opponents.
Slaven Bilic’s side have been crying out for a decent striker for years and the ‘Little Pea’ has the experience and ability to finally fill that void. Alongside the Mexican, The Hammers made a slightly riskier signing: Marko Arnautovic from Stoke for £20m. Although the Austrian international undoubtedly has talent, he only scored seven league goals last season and his poor attitude could not only hold him back, but also affect the rest of the squad.
Bilic’s side also signed Joe Hart on loan and Pablo Zabaleta for free, both of whom have performed well in the past, but have stagnated in the past few seasons.
Finally, West Ham snapped up sought after Montenegrin Wonderkid Sead Haksabanovic from Halmstads BK.
Ashley Young and Luke Shaw are ruled out until late September, while Marcus Rojo will not return until 2018 due to a knee injury.
West Ham United:
Michail Antonio and Sofiane Feghouli are unable to start due to Hamstring injuries.
Attacking midfielder Manuel Lanzini is ruled out due to a knock he sustained during preseason, while Aaron Cresswell is doubtful as a result of a muscle injury.
Cheikhou Kouyate, Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho are also sidelined.
Manchester United (3511)
- De Gea
- Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Axel Tuanzebe
- Antonio Valencia, Ander Hererra, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Mateo Darmian
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan
- Romelu Lukaku
West Ham United (4231)
- Joe Hart
- Pablo Zabaleta, Jose Fonte, Angelo Ogbaonna, Arthur Masuaku
- Pedro Obiang, Mark Noble
- Marko Arnautovic, Andre Ayew, Robert Snodgrass
- Javier Hernandez
Although Mourinho has described the visitors as ‘title challengers’ this is merely an attempt to put pressure on The Hammers, in a game where United should easily win. Arnautovic and Chicharito could trouble the Red Devils’ defence; however I think Mourinho’s side have too much firepower in attack, especially against a questionable West Ham back four. Overall I think Manchester United will win 3-1, with Lukaku netting two and Mkhitaryan and Arnautovic scoring the others.