We face-off with Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United in our opening fixture of the 2017/2018 Premier League season this weekend at Old Trafford. Bilic’s boys make the trip to Manchester after a relatively poor pre-season tour of Europe, where our only win came against Championship side Fulham in Austria.
It is the second time in succession that we have ended our preparations with only one victory to our name, and the Claret & Blue Army who are making the 218-mile round-trip on Sunday will be hoping that our poor form subsides quickly.
The encounter will kick-off at 4 pm BST on Sunday, and will be broadcasted live as a part of Super Sunday on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event.
The clash will take place at “The Theatre Of Dreams”, which was a phrase coined for Manchester United’s home Ground during the club’s glory years under famous manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Our last two visits to the Arena occurred in November 2016, the first of which resulted in a 1-1 draw and the second in a 4-1 win for the hosts in The EFL Cup Quarter-Final.
However, despite our recent poor record at Old Trafford, some of the most iconic moments in Hammers history have occurred there. These include Carlos Tevez’s completion of the great escape in 2007 and Paulo Di Canio famously rounding Fabien Barthez in the 2001 F.A Cup Fourth Round.
Slaven Bilic confirmed in his Press Conference yesterday afternoon that there would be four major absentees who will be not making the trip North. These include Michail Antonio, who featured for the U23’s against Everton last night. Cheikhou Kouyate, who is expected to miss the first three Premier League games with a freak knee injury. Likewise, Manuel Lanzini after he picked up a knock in pre-season. However, the final man on the list, Andy Carroll, will return to training on Wednesday but is a little further behind that trio.
Former United man Javier Hernandez is in line to make his competitive debut against his former club, as are Marko Arnautovic, Joe Hart, and Pablo Zabaleta.
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho has the luxury of a relatively full-squad to pick from for Sunday’s clash. The Red Devils are only without the long-term absentees Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw and could give Manchester United Premier League debuts to Nemanja Matic, Romelu Lukaku, and Victor Lindelof. All eyes will surely be on the £90 million man Lukaku and whether he can continue his outstanding record against us in recent years.
Manchester United are widely regarded as the most influential and most popular football club in history. Although they have struggled since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, The Red Devils are 20 time Premier League winner’s, 12 time F.A Cup winner’s and three time Champions League winner’s, to name a few of their long list of achievements.
Nowadays, they are managed by Portuguese Footballing Icon Jose Mourinho, following the exit of Dutch boss Louis Van Gaal in summer 2016. Before Van Gaal, current Sunderland head coach David Moyes took over from Sir Alex Ferguson, who had led United’s golden years through his 27-year spell in charge.
Despite the club’s disappointing sixth place Premier League finish last season, they did manage to lift both The EFL Cup and Europa League and are being tipped as potential title winner’s this term under Mourinho.
The last time that we met The Red Devils was in the New Year, as goals from Juan Mata and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were enough for United to secure a controversial 0-2 victory.
Many Hammers will remember our last victory over United which came in the final ever game at Upton Park, as Winston Reid secured a famous late winner to overcome Van Gaal’s men 3-2.
However, the overall record between the two clubs makes for grave viewing for the 3,000 strong supporters that will fill the away end on Sunday. Out of the 137 meetings between us and the 21 time Community Shield winners’, we have won just 43, drawn 30, and United have won 64.
Who is officiating?
Experienced Premier League referee Martin Atkinson will take-charge of the clash, with the two assistants being Sam Child and Adam Nunn and fellow referee Neil Swarbrick as the fourth official.
So, with both sides and managers poised for an exciting afternoon at “The Theatre Of Dreams”, will it be Bilic or Mourinho who get their side’s campaign’s off to a winning start to conclude the opening-weekend of the 2017/2018 Premier League season?