Man United v West Ham: Chicharito returns

Chicharito returns to Old Trafford – standard.co.uk

West Ham fans may be happier now than they were five months ago. The victory over Tottenham in April played a big part in galvanizing the club, leading to a positive finish to the last campaign. The club ditched last summer’s approach of taking cheap gambles in the transfer market, signing proven performers who have picked up Premier League title medals.

Two of them, Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta, add valuable experience at the elite level while Javier Hernandez has twice won top honours with Manchester United. The Red Devils could have done with Chicharito’s predatory instincts last term, with a failure to convert chances leading to a succession of disappointing home draws.

They should have solved that problem with the summer signing of Romelu Lukaku, who has enjoyed a goal-laden pre-season after netting 25 for Everton last term. Lukaku could have some joy against Winston Reid, who was sent off in pre-season and Angelo Ogbonna, who has looked a little shaky of late.

West Ham’s liveliest player could be Manuel Lanzini, who has enjoyed two good seasons at this level. The diminutive Argentine though will have to escape the clutches of Nemanja Matic, who impressed in the Super Cup, adding power and discipline to United’s midfield.

Matteo Darmian, a naturally defensive left-back, is unlikely to leave too much space in behind for Michail Antonio to exploit. Marko Arnautovic, by contrast, is likely to cut inside into central areas, which will be well patrolled by Matic and Ander Herrera. The duo’s discipline should give Paul Pogba extra freedom to get beyond Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang to create openings.

Expect the ‘Little Pea’ to net on his old stomping ground, but his former employers now have the tools to end their home draw curse.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 2-1

Other Predictions: