Two of the most active clubs in the transfer market face off in this Premier League opening clash at Old Trafford. Manchester United have spent money on a seismic scale once again, while Slaven Bilic has seen his West Ham squad reinforced with a clutch of experienced, proven names.
Romelu Lukaku, Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic will make their Premier League debuts for the Red Devils. Old Trafford will be expectant after a season of frustration and Jose Mourinho is under serious pressure to deliver in the league after their sixth-place finish in 2016/17.
Tuesday's UEFA Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid may not be a barometer for their success this year, but the performance left plenty to be desired.
Former United Star Could Be Key To Hammers Success
Bilic has a few selection issues ahead of the trip to the northwest. Several of his key players are doubts, and summer signing Marko Arnautovic’s fitness is uncertain.
Last season was underwhelming for the Hammers, but this year is full of optimism with the additions to the squad represent significant improvements. One such signing – former Manchester United poacher Javier Hernandez – will start on Sunday afternoon and is a great value bet of 4/1 to score against his former club.
The improvements to the spine of the team make Manchester United are a title contender this term. Mourinho’s side have had time to gel during pre-season, too. Lukaku will provide goals, Matic gives Paul Pogba more freedom and Lindelof could finally be the defensive partner that Eric Bailly needs.
Defensively they will be secure – as is expected of any Mourinho side – and that will be the bedrock of any success they have.
United Must Improve Offensively To Keep Pace In Title Race
Goals, though, have been the problem for this United side. How they take their chances against West Ham will be the decisive factor in this fixture, but we can expect them to create plenty against the Irons – who have their own dilemmas at the back. United are at a good price of 13/10 to score over 2.5 goals.
Little can be concluded from this fixture in reality. Another disappointing performance at Old Trafford to weaker opposition would immediately see questions raised of the hosts, though.
A slip up – in that respect at least – could be far more significant than the dropped points. It might not be pretty, but such a failure is unlikely against a West Ham team that could take some time to settle this season as is suggested by the 3/10 odds on United to take the three points.
If the Super Cup can be taken with a pinch of salt, the weight of expectation is firmly shunted onto Manchester United for their Sunday curtain-raiser in front of their home crowd. West Ham, on the other hand, can play with the freedom of underdogs and such freedom is our best chance of seeing an exciting clash here.