So it’s that part of the year again when we’re as excited as kids on Christmas eve. Yes, I’m talking about the return of the Premier League, no prizes for guessing that. Manchester United welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford as they gear up for their season opener.
Jose Mourinho has always won the league title in his second season at every club, and so United fans would be looking forward to see their side challenging for the title, particularly after the solid additions of Lukaku, Matic and Lindelof. This first Match week saw Chelsea lose to Burnley and Liverpool drawing with Watford, and so Mourinho would be pretty welcoming towards the idea of gaining an advantage on their potential title rivals in the first match itself.
West Ham United, on the other hand, have also made some good signings in the summer and would try to finish higher than the 11th they finished last season. With seven potential teams aiming for the title, it’d be a bonus for them to qualify for the Europa League. And they are very much up to the challenge, with the arrivals of Javier Hernandez, Marko Arnautovic and Pablo Zabaleta as well as Joe Hart signing on loan making them a dangerous opposition. Slaven Bilic’s business is not probably over yet, and they could put together an even better squad come August 31.
Manchester United do not have any fresh injury concerns, and would be without Rojo, Young and Shaw, all three of them still out with long term injuries. Fosu-Mensah and Borthwick-Jackson have both left on loan, and that means United could line up with Valencia, Bailly, Lindelof and Blind in defence. Mourinho could spring a surprise either by lining up in a 3-5-2 or if he opts to start Jones ahead of Lindelof, who has looked shaky ever since his arrival. Having overlooked him in the Super Cup, Mourinho should also start Martial as a reward for his excellent pre-season form.
For the visitors, Carroll, Kouyate, Antonio and Sakho are all out injured, while there is doubt on whether Lanzini would play or not. Feghouli is on his way to Galatasaray, while Cresswell and Noble are expected to return after minor injuries, and Javier Hernandez, former Manchester United striker who has an excellent goalscoring record in England, will be expected to start against Mourinho’s men, who should be vary of his deadly instincts and positioning.
Victory is important for both sides today, and it’ll be interesting to see how both teams line up in their season opener. Mourinho has recently stated that his side have a realistic shot at the title this season, and the way he’s drilled his side over the weeks in the pre-season, I don’t expect United to lose. They’re way stronger than their opponents on paper, but need to put in an emphatic performance to justify their superiority on the pitch as well. Mourinho would be looking forward to turn draws into wins, and if they do that this season, there’s no stopping them. They lost only once at home last season, and they don’t look like losing today as well. I’ll put my money on United winning 2-0 or 3-0 today. And I’m sure that Mourinho and his men won’t prove me wrong.