After amazing summer, it is time to put all of that work on paper and in the preseason into actual match execution, as the new era of West Ham United will face off against title hopefuls Liverpool to kick off both clubs 2018-19 season.
It is a massive season for both teams, with high expectations after a massive transfer window of spending for both. $229 million is the full amount of cash splashed by Liverpool and West Ham combine, so a proper return on investments is paramount for both clubs all season.
The first team sheet for Manuel Pellegrini will feature a few surprises, as Issa Diop does not start at one of the two centerbacks starts, and Aaron Cresswell is not even in the 18 altogether. Instead, Angelo Ogbonna and Fabian Balbuena get those nods, while Arthur Masuaku gets the first-team spot at left back to begin this campaign. Pellegrini has chosen to go with Declan Rice as the holding midfielder, with captain Mark Noble and Jack Wilshere getting the nods over Pedro Obiang.
And up front, Michail Antonio gets the nod as the other attacking options with Marko Arnautovic and Felipe Anderson always favorites to start.
But as always the case with West Ham, luck isn’t on their side. Last year’s season began with major optimism, only to have a difficult opener at Manchester United set the tone for a trying year. This time it’s against explosive Liverpool, who start the season with only Dejan Lovren absent.
It will be a fascinating season with a huge test to begin with at Anfield. Let the Pellegrini Era begin at West Ham, and may it be a massive success.