Aug 13, 2017 at 4pm UK at ​Old Trafford
Man UtdManchester United
West HamWest Ham United
Lukaku (33', 53'), Martial (87'), Pogba (90')
Bailly (43'), Valencia (60')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Zabaleta (51'), Ogbonna (66')

Preview: Manchester United vs. West Ham United

Sports Mole previews the Premier League meeting between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford.

Manchester United begin their 2017-18 Premier League campaign with a home match against West Ham United, aiming to push on from what can be considered a positive season overall last time out.

While silverware was added to the trophy cabinet with success in the EFL Cup and Europa League, boss Jose Mourinho knows that far more will be required in the top flight in his second term at the helm.

Manchester United

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho during the Premier League match against Southampton on May 17, 2017© SilverHub

After sacrificing the Premier League to focus on the Europa League with a couple of months of 2016-17 left to play, Mourinho was fully aware that anything other than victory over Ajax in the Stockholm final would have been seen as a disaster.

Not only would United have fallen short in Europe's secondary competition - a competition that the Portuguese had sidelined for the first half of the campaign - but they would also be facing another year without Champions League football at Old Trafford.

One result can make the world of difference, though, and after further strengthening with the arrivals of Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic during the off-season, the mood is positive around the red half of Manchester once again.

It has now been four years since the Red Devils finished in the top three of the Premier League, having previously gone 22 years without finishing outside those spots, and Mourinho will need to get far more out of his players to bridge the mammoth 24-point gap on champions Chelsea.

Mourinho will hope that the arrival of Lukaku alone will go a long way to doing just that, bringing in a player from Everton who has experience of scoring regularly at this level - another 25 last time out - and a player boasting an impressive chance conversion rate.

For all of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's success at Old Trafford, there was an overreliance on the Swede at times when putting together attacks, and United actually produced arguably their best all-round performance of the season in his absence.

The 2-0 win over Chelsea, coupled with the earlier 4-1 thumping of Leicester City, proved to be rarities, though - United struggled badly to break teams down on home soil and recorded a league-high 10 draws.

That quite simply cannot be allowed to happen again, with the rather poor tally of 54 goals scored - bettered by Bournemouth, for example - going a long way to showing exactly where the Red Devils' problems lie.

The good news for those frustrated supporters is that Mourinho has a hugely impressive record in his second season at a club, winning or retaining the league title at each of his previous sides in his sophomore year, and with a positive start to the new term he will have those fans fully behind him once again.

Recent form: WWLWWL

West Ham United

Slaven Bilic watches on during the Premier League game between West Ham United and Liverpool on May 14, 2017© SilverHub

For a large part of last season boss Slaven Bilic seemed to be a dead man walking at the London Stadium, seen as the fall guy for his side's occasional abysmal performances at their new taxpayer-funded ground in the capital.

Bilic survived the axe and actually guided the Hammers to a respectable 11th-place finish, only missing out on a place in the top half by virtue of an inferior goal difference compared to West Bromwich Albion's.

The Croat is still the fourth favourite to be the first Prem manager sacked, though, knowing that he must hit the ground running if he is to improve on what was an inconsistent second season at the club he once played for.

A look at the fixture list suggests that United could well achieve their target of getting quickly out of the blocks as, despite starting with a daunting trip to Old Trafford, they only face one more match against the division's elite before November - Tottenham Hotspur at home on September 23.

Twenty-five points was all that West Ham had to show from their home fixtures last term, throwing away a further 22 points from winning positions at a ground that teams just seemed to love visiting.

While some sympathy can be felt for Bilic, who also had to deal with a succession of injury problems, he made life tough for himself with a number of questionable selection decisions, leading to some heavy defeats across the duration of the season.

Supporters have grown in confidence as the summer has gone on, however, thanks to the arrival of some experienced heads in Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta from Manchester City; Marko Arnautovic in a club-record deal; the ultimate fox in the box Javier Hernandez; and the lesser-known Sead Haksabanovic from Halmstads BK.

Bilic must now integrate his new players into a squad already boasting some quality names, including talented playmaker Manuel Lanzini, who is about to commit his future to the club for the long term.

West Ham have a disappointing opening-day record in the Premier League, mind, losing 10 times on matchday one - the worst such record in the division - while opponents Man United have lost only one of their last 13 curtain-raisers at Old Trafford.

Recent form: DWLDDL

Team News

Javier Hernandez in action for West Ham United on August 1, 2017© Getty Images

Lukaku and Matic are expected to make their league debuts for United this weekend, with the former looking to build on a record that has seen him score in seven of his last eight encounters with West Ham.

Luke Shaw, Ashley Young and Marcos Rojo are all long-term absentees, meanwhile, and Mourinho recently revealed that he does not expect to have Rojo back until the start of the new year.

A 4-3-3 seems the most likely formation for Mourinho to with, using Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial in attack alongside Lukaku, while Matic's arrival could get the best out of Paul Pogba alongside him.

Bilic has each of his high-profile new signings available to choose from, meanwhile, including ex-Red Devil Hernandez who scored 37 Premier League goals in 103 appearances for the club.

Hart will be returning to enemy territory in his first competitive game since joining on loan from Man City, aiming to become the first keeper to keep three clean sheets at Old Trafford.

There is no place in the squad for the injured quintet of Michail Antonio, Lanzini, Cheikhou Kouyate, Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho, however, as injuries once again strike the Hammers.

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Valencia, Jones; Bailly, Darmian; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Mkhitaryan, Lukaku, Martial

West Ham United possible starting lineup:
Hart; Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Noble, Obiang; Antonio, Lanzini, Arnautovic; Hernandez

Head To Head

Man United have won 17 of their previous 21 Premier League home matches against West Ham, while also cruising to a 4-1 victory in the EFL Cup last season.

The Hammers' most recent triumph over this weekend's opponents was in the final match to be played at Upton Park in May 2016; Winston Reid scoring a late goal in a 3-2 thriller.

They have not won at Old Trafford in the past 10 years, though, going back to when Carlos Tevez netted on the final day of the season to dramatically keep United in the top flight.

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We say: Manchester United 3-1 West Ham United

West Ham look stronger than last season and will surely be free of any serious relegation worries this time around, though this is a difficult start for Bilic as he enters the final year of his contract. Man United hardly set the world alight on home soil last term but, having also strengthened during the off-season, they will be desperate to hit the ground running on Sunday afternoon.

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Manuel Lanzini is certainly not operating on automatic during the Premier League game between West Ham United and Watford on April 20, 2016
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