The new Premier League season is here for West Ham United, as they face off against Manchester United in the final match of opening weekend.
It’s been an ambitious summer of spending for both sides, as Slaven Bilic and Jose Mourinho’s men look to vastly improve from their 2016-17 league campaigns. The Portuguese manager has even gone out of his way to think they may have an outside chance at the title, complimenting their additions of ex-United forward Javier Hernandez, Marko Arnautovic, Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart. All four of those new signings get their debut today in starting XI for West Ham.
Winston Reid’s partner at centerback to start the season will be Angelo Ogbonna instead of Jose Fonte, with Arthur Masuaku getting the matchday one selection at left back ahead of Aaron Cresswell. With the soon departed Sofiane Feghouli and possibly soon departed Robert Snodgrass off the 18, to go along with the already unavailable list of players for the Hammers, Diafra Sakho is a shock inclusion on the bench.
For United, long term absentees Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young are the only players unavailable. Mourinho expectedly gives the Old Trafford debut to Romelu Lukaku, spearheading an attacking lineup that includes fringe starters Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata. Also getting the nod from Mourinho, surprisingly, is Phil Jones over Chris Smalling as Eric bailly’s opening day partner.
With both teams producing as positive of lineups as they could, it looks to be a terrific opening match. Can the Hammers secure another Premier League point at Old Trafford? Or will United start their title challenge with the win their fans expect?
The West Ham season opener is upon is, with a halftime analysis coming up after the opening 45.
The lineups are down below.
Starting Lineups and Bench
Okay Hammers fans, what do you think the result will be today at Old Trafford? #MUNWHU— Brace The Hammer (@BraceTheHammer) August 13, 2017
Slaven Bilic will be relieved that his side are only down 1-0, and will be encouraged by the last moment of the first half, as the Hammers best move came before the whistle. It was clever, quick direct movement from Hernandez that caused problems, and resulted in the lively Fernandes being open and hitting right at De Gea.
The Hammers still are a threat, but they must find away to get their passes connected in the midfield and make United uncomfortable. Both Masuaku and Zabaleta haven’t been able to take advantage of the questions in defense that Mata and Rashford have, as Arnautovic, Ayew and Fernandes have had to do a lot of defensive track back work.
With only Sakho is an attacking option, Bilic’s choices for an offensive turnaround are finite. Still though, he does have the players on the field to take one chance and even this game if they remain resolute in their defending.
Who was West Ham's best player in the first half? #MUNWHU— Brace The Hammer (@BraceTheHammer) August 13, 2017
Well, that got ugly in the end. The full recap here.
Thank you for reading and being in the live match thread, the first of the season. Take care and have a much better rest of your day than the Hammers did today.