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Preview: Mourinho set to start his seven-way Premier League title race with victory over West Ham?

Manchester United -v- West Ham United

Premier League 2017/18

Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday 13th August 2017; KO 16:00 BST

Live on Nissan Super Sunday, Sky Sports Premier League HD

Manchester United commence their Premier League season at home against West Ham United. Slaven Bilic’s side will travel to Old Trafford for Sunday’s match with a point to prove. This United side led by Jose Mourinho still have some ground to gain ahead of the new season, especially after finishing sixth last season. The success of the last season with United lifting the FA Community Shield, the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League, earning a group stage place in the UEFA Champions League, suggests that United’s league form could still be questionable. Mourinho has strengthened his side with Victor Lindelof, a £30 million signing from Benfica, Romelu Lukaku, a £75 million, possibly £90 million addition from Everton and Nemanja Matic, a £40 million signing (including £5 million in add-ons) from Chelsea.

Mourinho has won the league title in his second season at every club he has managed; FC Porto, Chelsea (twice), Inter Milan and Real Madrid. The Portuguese ‘special one’ will be looking to do the same this season and it will be important that the club get off to the best start this season. Last season, United won their first three Premier League matches, looking in good stead for the season but after the first international break of the season, United were defeated by Manchester City and Watford in the league and Feyenoord in the Europa League, losing three matches in a row which seemed to bring discontent, albeit on social media, from so-called supporters. United’s season went from bad to worse with draws both home and away which could have been wins and the club not turning Old Trafford into the fortress it used to be.

The return of Javier Hernandez to Old Trafford could cause problems for United with the Mexican ‘Little Pea’ looking to show his abilities again. Mourinho criticised the sale of Chicharito under Louis van Gaal, suggesting that he would not have sold the striker, which seemed to start reports of a return to Old Trafford for him, but playing for United. The Old Trafford club have moved on though, Mourinho fed the press what he thought, but not that he was going to re-sign the striker. Mourinho seems to have a stronger squad this season, which will be needed to compete on all fronts, which is what the manager and the players seem intent on doing. The departure of Wayne Rooney could be a good thing for United as his performances last season were not the best and now United do not have to find a place in the team for him, using a more fluid attacking player instead. This will be an important match this season, the first home match and a match which will need to end with all three points remaining at Old Trafford.

Previous Matches: Manchester United the more successful side when pitted against West Ham, who have a point to prove

Manchester United and West Ham United have played 137 matches in total. United have won 64 times, the Hammers winning 43 times and the pair drawing 30 times. The last defeat to West Ham came in the Premier League at the end of the 2015/16 season with Diafra Sakho taking the lead in the tenth minute, Anthony Martial equalising in the 51st minute, then putting United in the lead in the 72nd minute. Michail Antonio levelled the score on the 76th minute with Winston Reid putting the Hammers in the lead nine minutes from time. United have gone 16 matches without defeat against West Ham which started with a 3-0 victory on the 1st September 1993 and ended with a 3-1 victory on the 1st January 2001. During that period, United won ten times and drew six times. On the 28th January 2001, United were beaten 1-0 by the Hammers in the FA Cup. United best winning streak against West Ham lasted six matches, starting with a 4-1 victory on the 3rd May 2008, ending with a 3-0 victory on the 28th August 2010. During that six match period, United scored 17 goals, conceding just one, keeping five clean sheets.

Pre-Season Form: United have had the better pre-season, but results in the summer are not important, fitness, however, is!

Manchester United have played eight matches this pre-season, five of which were played in the United States of America. United beat LA Galaxy 5-2 in their first match of the summer, then going onto beat Real Salt Lake 2-1 in the second. United then participated in the International Champions Cup facing Manchester City, winning 2-0, Real Madrid, beating them 2-1 on penalties after a 1-1 90-minute draw and Barcelona, losing in a 1-0 defeat which was a very close match. United then heading back to Europe, facing Valerenga in Oslo, winning 3-0, their first win against the side after a previous 0-0 draw in the city. The last pre-season match came against Sampdoria in Dublin with United winning 2-1 in the Irish capital. United played their first competitive match of the season against Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, beaten 2-1 after being outclassed during the match.

West Ham United have played six matches during the summer as they looked to find the fitness levels ahead of the new Premier League season. The Hammers started out against Sturm Graz II on the 17th July, drawing 0-0. The second match of the summer was a 2-1 victory over Fulham on the 20th July, the clubs only pre-season victory. In the Betway Cup, the Hammers were pitted against Werder Bremen, losing 1-0 in the first match on the 28th July, then drawing 2-2 (losing 3-2 on aggregate) in the second match a day later. West Ham then played another friendly against Altona 93 on the 1st August, drawing 3-3 before playing the final pre-season match of the summer, a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City.

Team News: Three injuries for United, nothing new; West Ham have five players out, another a slight doubt…

Jose Mourinho has already confirmed that Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, and Marcos Rojo are the only players missing due to injury at the start of the season. Eric Bailly and Phil Jones, who were both suspended for the UEFA Super Cup match against Real Madrid on Tuesday will be a boost for United’s defence against the Hammers. Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic, and Victor Lindelof could all make their Premier League debuts for United at Old Trafford. Javier Hernandez, a former United striker could make his West Ham debut at the Theatre of Dreams, which will be a big occasion for the Mexican striker, who left United under Louis van Gaal and played for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga for two seasons. West Ham seem to have an injury crisis at the start of the season with Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho, Cheikhou Kouyate, Sofiane Feghouli, and Manuel Lanzini set to miss the match. Aaron Cresswell is also on the sidelines but could face United.

Predicted Starting XI: Romelu Lukaku to strike on his Old Trafford debut, United to demolish the Hammers?

Match Prediction: Manchester United have the strength-in-depth to send West Ham packing!

Manchester United 3-0 West Ham United

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