We are back for the new season!!
Steven Bilic has made optimum use of his resources by way of Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez signings for a total of just £36 million. The Hammers have roped in these two from Stoke City and Bayer Leverkusen . Both are international strikers of high caliber for their respective countries, Austria and Mexico and will add flair to the West Ham attack when they visit Old Trafford for their opening game against Manchester United. Another shot in the arm for West Ham is the arrival of veteran Manchester City right back, Pablo Zabaleta. The 32-year old Argentine is expected to bring in the much needed stability to a shaky defense that conceded as many as 64 goals last season despite the side’s 11th spot on the table.
One more signing that could pay dividends for the Hammers in future is that of 18-year old Swedish mid-fielder Sead Haksabanovic snared for just £2.7 million from Halmstads BK. His attacking style of play has earned him 5 goals from 22 games this season and has made him a cynosure of numerous clubs of Europe. But whether Bilic would include him in the starting XI in a tough outing such as the one at Old Trafford is another matter. The Hammers will once again be without their ace striker Andy Carroll out with an ankle injury picked up in a friendly against Liverpool last week. This is where folks like Arnautovic and Hernandez will come in and to give them support in the mid-field and upfront spaces on Sunday will be Darren Fletcher, Diafra Sakho and Andre Ayew.
For Manchester United the main question will be whether their £75 million acquisition Romelu Lukakau will come good or not. The 24-year Belgian will have to step in to the shoes of Ibrihamovic (who was United’s top scorer last season and ironically brought in for free from Paris St Germain). So the pressure will be very much on the ex-Everton striker. The truly world-class and £50 million man from Chelsea, Nemanja Matic, will be there to bolster the mid-field along with the resourceful Anders Herrera and the £30 million import from Benifica, 22-year old defender Victor Lindelof, also called the “iceman” for his clinical efficiency at the back, promises to make United a difficult side to score against.
Upfront, United are no short of talent with men like Emile Rashford, Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial crowding the ranks. Manchester United have won all but one of their seven pre-season games and have hammered in 15 goals. Rashford, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan, Martial and Mata have all been among the goals with star acquisition Lukaku joining the party, too, scoring on two occasions. Mourinho’s men look like a side hungry for goals and could possibly get a couple or more goals in their Sunday opener. Clearly, the Red Devils are the favourites, but Steven Bilic’s West Ham are no push-overs either, this time around.
The best odds of 11/2 (Bet 365) point to a 2-0 win for United and 13/2 (Bet 365) for 1-0 win for the same team. For a draw it is 10/1. For a 3-1 win the odds are 12/1 which looks realistic given the scoring firepower at the disposal of both sides.
Man United to WIN to Nil, Best Odds 21/20