9 min “Just take a look at the bench Slaven Bilic has named: a goalkeeper, two senior centre halves, two senior full backs, a junior centre half (the highly promising Declan Rice), and a forward who’s barely played a game in two years,” says Daniel Barnett. “What do you think his plan B could possibly be in the unlikely event that West Ham are behind in the second half? It does seem a trifle unambitious. Then again, if a backs-to-the-wall defensive display ends up with Mourinho spitting furiously about “19th-century football”, there can be no complaints. I would love to hear Bilic claiming to have “out-tacticed” him.”
In his defence, he has loads of players unavailable: Lanzini, Cresswell, Feghouli, Carroll, etc.
8 min Lukaku scorches down the left to win United’s first corner. Blind’s outswinger is met in front of the near post by Bailly, whose header flashes across goal before a West Ham defender boots it clear.
6 min West Ham continue to play like the home side, moving the ball away with a lot of confidence.
5 min It’s been a frantic start, with both sides full of attacking intent. Thus far West Ham have been the more accomplished in possession.
3 min Jones gets a talking-to after taking a clumsy shortcut through the back of Hernandez. It’s been a bright start from West Ham.
2 min If you’re into the whole tactics thing, Mkhitaryan rather than Mata is playing as a No10.
1 min Peep peep! United kick off from right to left. They are in red, West Ham are in claret.
The players emerge from the tunnel on a cool Manchester afternoon. Joe Hart looks very happy to be back in the Premier League, and in Manchester.
Since you asked, West Ham’s last win at Old Trafford was in 2007 – a game no Hammer will ever forget.
In the early game, Spurs got their title challenge off to a solid start with a 2-0 win at Newcastle. You can read about it here.
Man Utd (4-2-3-1) De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind; Pogba, Matic; Mata, Mkhitaryan,Rashford; Lukaku.
Substitutes: Romero, Smalling, Darmian, Herrera, Fellaini, Lingard, Martial.
West Ham (4-3-3) Hart; Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Masuaku; Noble, Obiang, Fernandes; Ayew, Hernandez, Arnautovic.
Substitutes: Adrian, Rice, Byram, Collins, Fonte, Cresswell, Sakho.
What comes next in this sequence: 1, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 7, 4, 5, 6? It reads like a maths puzzle that even Max Fischer couldn’t solve. In fact, as you have doubtless realised, these are Manchester United’s league positions in the last 10 years. There have been plenty of reasons for United’s league struggles; this year, however, everyone at the club will at least expect them to challenge for the title for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. It’s not as easy as it seems – a very good team will finish sixth this season – but this looks like a very powerful, very Mourinho team.
United’s biggest problem last season was that they repeatedly thrashed teams 1-1 and 0-0 at Old Trafford. Today will give us an early indication whether they will be more clinical this season. The signing of Romelu Lukaku, a small-game specialist at this stage of his career, should certainly help.
West Ham have done some interesting business of their own, signing Marko Arnautovic, Pablo Zabaleta and the former Old Trafford favourite Javier Hernandez. He was at United as they transitioned from serial champions to also-rans. The home fans hope the return journey will start today.
Kick off is at 4pm.