Manchester United have enjoyed an emphatic start to life in the Premier League under Jose Mourinho, with two wins from two games. After such a promising start that leaves United lying second in the table, Mourinho will want to kick on from opening two games. However, this game at the KC Stadium will be no walkover, as Hull City, and I’m sure Mike Phelan in particular, will relish the opportunity to get one over on United and maintain their 100% start. Hull have begun their campaign brilliantly with an opening day win over champions Leicester City and a very solid away win at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea last week. United’s performance against Southampton last Friday left a lot of people purring, in particular around United’s new number six Paul Pogba, who will no doubt retain his place in the starting XI.
Another seemingly popular figure at the moment is, surprisingly, Marouane Fellaini. His performances against Bournemouth and Southampton have silenced a lot (and I mean a lot) of critics, and fans believe he has turned a corner in his Manchester United career. His performance against Southampton last Friday, demonstrated the commitment he has for the red shirt. He covered more ground (11.62km) against Southampton than any other player on the pitch. He once again had an impressive pass accuracy at 85% after having a 99% pass accuracy against Bournemouth, so no doubt Mourinho will keep utilising him in the same role if he keeps delivering. This match against will be a physical contest no doubt, so his physical presence will help in both attack and defence.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic inevitably will start-up front for United after scoring three goals in two games. Question marks may well appear over how long Zlatan can keep scoring for, but now it’s a no brainer to start him up top.
Hull started with a line up of 4-3-3 against Swansea last week, with the Uruguayan Abel Hernandez spearheading the attack. His pace may cause United problems but Eric Bailly, who has put in two Man of the Match performances for United in the Community Shield and opening day victory at Bournemouth, should be up to the task of keeping him quiet. Mike Phelan will no doubt start with the same team that won at the Liberty Stadium unless he decides to start Shaun Maloney who came off the bench last week to score the opener.
Swansea enjoyed the majority of possession last week against Hull having 56.6% compared to Hull’s 43.4%, suggesting Hull approached the game with a counter-attacking mentality. Phelan will be familiar with this style of play as it was how United tended to play under Sir Alex when Phelan was assistant manager. United will have more of the ball against Hull, so they must be wary of the counter-attack, and the pace of the likes of Hernandez, and Maloney. Robert Snodgrass could also cause problems with his crossing and set piece deliveries.
Abel Hernandez v Eric Bailly
As already mentioned, Hernandez opened his account for the season last week with a goal in injury time, and he possesses the pace to make himself a nuisance. Bailly has to be aware of where he is otherwise United could get punished. Bailly hasn’t had any problems thus far in a United shirt, so will be eager to keep up his promising start, and is more than capable of dealing with someone of Hernandez’s stature.
Curtis Davis v Zlatan Ibrahimovic
This is probably going to be the key battle of the match. Davies has vast amounts of Premier League experience, playing for clubs like West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa. However, Zlatan has started the season in red-hot form, and we saw on Friday night how lethal he is in the air. Davies will have a tough task on his hands keeping the Swede quiet, who will no doubt want to carry on his goalscoring form and keep proving the doubters wrong.
Robert Snodgrass v Antonio Valencia
If Snodgrass plays where he did against Swansea, then he will come up against Valencia. Similar to Fellaini, Valencia has seen a resurgence in form, putting on a marvellous display, leading teammate Ander Herrera to say he is the best right-back in the world at the moment. Snodgrass has a very good delivery and it’s Valencia’s duty to stop him crossing at all costs.