Match Preview

Two days to go and our new Premier League season kicks off at Old Trafford. You don’t get a much harder start than that, although maybe it is indeed the best time of the year to play them. And then there’s Lukaku. He will no doubt be looking to continue his amazing scoring record against us – it’s something like 9 in 10. He didn’t score for Everton when we last played them but he’ll be looking to open his account at Old Trafford in no uncertain terms.

We have a long injured list for this game, but we’ll still be able to put out a very good team. Carroll, Lanzini, Cresswell, Antonio and Kouyate are all out.

Before we get on to the question of what side we will field at Old Trafford, the rumours continue to swirl that we are about to sign Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho for a club record of £25 million. Club officials confirmed to Claret & Hugh yesterday that we have people in Lisbon trying to come to an agreement. My first thought was that this is a repeat of the Lacazette situation from last year where we seemed about to sign him but in the end were priced out. His release clause is a whopping £39 million but he’s unhappy and was persuaded to stay last season but apparently wants to move now. Sporting have signed a replacement, so it could well happen, but it won’t be in time for Sunday.

Our other new signing, the 18 year old Sead Haksabanovic looks a real prospect, but that it’s unlikely he will feature on Sunday, even on the bench. What will be interesting is to see whether Declan Rice or Nathan Holland will be in the squad and make the bench. Rice in particular showed some fantastic form during pre-season and will be very disappointed if he plays no part in the proceedings. However, the four first choice defenders will continue to be Reid, Ogbonna, Fonte and Collins, and with all of them fit, it’s unlikely that Rice will even make the bench.

It seems odd that we are willing to pay £25 million for another midfielder, when we seem quite well-served in that area. With Noble, Kouyate, Obiang and Fernandes fighting for two places, do we really need another one? Does it spell the beginning of the end for Mark Noble, whose form last season was patchy tpo say the least, although admitedly he was playing with a serious hernia injury for much of the season. Surely we are still a striker light. In my opinion we need four strikers and although we do have that number at the moment, assuming Martinez is going to be part of the first team this season, two of them are very injury prone. If we could sign another proper striker by the end of the transfer windown I would be very happy indeed. And I have to say I am relieved it’s not going to be Andre Gray. Watford paid £18 million for him. What on earth has the world come to when a Championship level player can command that kind of fee?

So who is going to play at Old Trafford? I imagine the back four picks itself pretty much. Cresswell, it appears has picked up a knock so Arthur Masuaku will no doubt get an ipportunity to shine at left back. So I expect Zabaleta, Cresswell, Reid and Ogbonna to play in front of Hart. In midfield, assuming we play 4-3-3 I imagine it will be Noble, Obiang and Fernandes, with Hernandez, Arnautovic and Ayew playing up front.

We’ll have a very strong bench consisting of Adrian, Byram, Fonte, Collins, Snodgrass, Martinez and Sakho. Sakho may not be completely fit but Bilic needs to show him he has confidence in him and will play him. Given the number of injuries we have it is a testament to the strength of our squad that we have 18 players who can form this squad with several other, like Rice and Holland all knocking at the door.

Excited? I am.

Do put a team into the Predictor League. Just click on the button below. There’s a £250 prize on offer again. You have until 2.55pm on Sunday to enter a team.

UPDATE: by Dan Coker

WestHamTillIDie has a fantasy league for next season’s Premier League Fantasy Football and invites you to take part and submit a team.

Click here. When you’ve registered your details, follow the instructions to select your team.

When you’ve selected your team, you need to join The Official WHTID League by clicking on the ‘Create and join leagues’ tab on the right side of the screen (this will only appear after you have picked your team). Then click on ‘Join a league’ and then ‘Join private league’ before typing this code 1283349-316242 into the relevant box. You need to register before 6.45pm on Friday 11th August.

Special thanks to Ray The Hammer for setting up the league.

Click here to view the leaderboard