Aaron Cresswell

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STREAM: Manchester United vs. West Ham United

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Old friend Javier Hernandez is on the other side of the pitch when Manchester United hosts West Ham United at Old Trafford on Sunday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

He won’t recognize too many of the Red Devils as former teammates, with Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic, and Paul Pogba all handed starts by Jose Mourinho.

For their part, West Ham starts new boys Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Marko Arnautovic in addition to Hernandez. Remarkably, Jose Fonte and Aaron Cresswell are on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind, Matic, Pogba, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Rashford, Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Darmian, Smalling, Fellaini, Herrera, Lingard, Martial.

West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Noble, Obiang, Fernandes, Arnautovic, Ayew, Chicharito. Subs: Adrian, Byram, Cresswell, Fonte, Collins, Rice, Sakho.

Ranking the top 10 Premier League players in each position

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It’s always nice to open up a can of worms before the start of the season, right?

[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

With new players arriving in the Premier League and superstars staying put, we thought it would be a good idea to rank the best players in each position ahead of the 2017-18 season.

Think of this as a preseason PL player Power Rankings, if you will, and if you want to use this us a “cheat-sheet” for your PL fantasy teams, go for it.

Here’s a list at the top 10 in each position. Let the debate begin in 3, 2, 1…


Goalkeepers

1. David De Gea
2. Hugo Lloris
3. Petr Cech
4. Thibaut Courtois
5. Jack Butland
6. Jordan Pickford
7. Kasper Schmeichel
8. Joe Hart
9. Lukasz Fabianski
10. Ben Foster

Right back

1. Antonio Valencia
2. Seamus Coleman
3. Kyle Walker
4. Danilo
5. Cedric
6. Nathaniel Clyne
7. Kieran Trippier
8. Victor Moses
9. Hector Bellerin
10. Pablo Zabaleta

Center back

1. Toby Alderweireld
2. Cesar Azpilicueta
3. Virgil Van Dijk
4. Jan Vertonghen
5. Laurent Koscielny
6. Vincent Kompany
7. David Luiz
8. Eric Bailly
9. Michael Keane
10. Gary Cahill

Left back

1. Danny Rose
2. Ryan Bertrand
3. Marcos Alonso
4. Nacho Monreal
5. Leighton Baines
6. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
7. Benjamin Mendy
8. Luke Shaw
9. Aaron Cresswell
10. Andrew Robertson

Central midfielders

1. N'Golo Kante
2. David Silva
3. Mousa Dembele
4. Paul Pogba
5. Juan Mata
6. Nemanja Matic
7. Victor Wanyama
8. Ander Herrera
9. Oriol Romeu
10. Georginio Wijnaldum

Attacking midfielders/wingers

1. Kevin De Bruyne
2. Dele Alli
3. Eden Hazard
4. Sadio Mane
5. Philippe Coutinho
6. Christian Eriksen
7. Mesut Ozil
8. Leroy Sane
9. Gylfi Sigurdsson
10. Bernardo Silva

Strikers

1. Harry Kane
2. Alexis Sanchez
3. Sergio Aguero
4. Romelu Lukaku
5. Diego Costa
6. Alvaro Morata
7. Javier Hernandez
8. Gabriel Jesus
9. Roberto Firmino
10. Jamie Vardy

Premier League 2017-18 preview – West Ham United

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West Ham truly, truly struggled at times last season. Injuries were abound. There were questions asked of Slaven Bilic.

And yet through all that, they finished 11th. That seems to speak to the depth of the roster and the fantastic, sometimes underappreciated managerial job Bilic did to keep the Hammers afloat despite all the struggles.

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This year, the bad luck should turn around. West Ham shedded the excess fat on the squad and brought in a pair of impact players who should step right into the starting lineup. Marko Arnautovic especially is a fantastic addition, who along with Robert Snodgrass, Manuel Lanzini, Sofiane Feghouli, and Michail Antonio should provide plenty for new signing Chicharito to feast on.

Best, worst case scenarios – Best case, this is a Europa League team. With all the new attacking talent for Bilic to play with, he can rotate players to avoid or deal with injuries. At the back, Bilic will have to find his preferred formation, because the depth will give him headaches – a good problem to have.

Through all the problems last season, the team still finished strong and away from the relegation battle, proving they are not a relegation candidate this season, even if the injury troubles return. Worst-case is probably another early flirt with the bottom third, but ultimately they pull out of it for a 13th place spot.


Best possible XI is…

Hart

Fonte — Reid — Ogbonna

Antonio — Noble — Lanzini  — Kouyate — Arnautovic

Carroll — Hernandez

This is tough, and you can be sure Bilic will rotate plenty. Pablo Zabaleta and Aaron Cresswell will get time in a typical 4-man defensive line, while Robert Snodgrass and Sofiane Feghouli will rotate through on the wings. Diafra Sakho provides striker depth.


[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

Transfers In: Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City, $27 million), Chicharito (Bayer Leverkusen, $21 million), Joe Hart (Manchester City, Loan), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City, Free).

Transfers Out: Ashley Fletcher (Middlesbrough, $9 million), Havard Nordtveit (Hoffenheim, $8.5 million), Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough, $6.6 million), Raphael Spiegel (Boavista, Free), Stephen Hendrie (Southend United, Free Transfer).

Last season: 

— 11th place in Premier League
— FA Cup 3rd Round (lost to Manchester City)
— League Cup quarterfinals (lost to Manchester United)

Star Player: Chicharito — Last season, West Ham seriously missed a player who could finish chances with Andy Carroll either out or misfiring. Now, they have a guy who can provide that final touch. Chicharito is a top-class striker who will eat up the goals where last season the Hammers failed to find the back of the net.

Last year, West Ham was ninth in the Premier League in chances created. Add Arnautovic to that mix, plus a healthy Snodgrass and Lanzini, and this season could be a big return to England for the Little Pea.

Coach’s Corner: Slaven Bilic — If it wasn’t clear after his first season in charge at West Ham, last season should prove how valuable the 48-year-old Croatian is to the Hammers. Bilic is able to mix and match his tactics to fit who is available and on the field, such an important trait last season when players were dropping like flies. Now, with good squad depth, he’ll need to channel that ability again to get everyone’s best.

PST Predicts: With the creative talent and steadiness at the back, West Ham should seriously improve on last season. They’ll finish more chances, and with Bilic in charge, this should be a top-half team with a shot at a Europa League spot.

West Ham launch bid for Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez?

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Is “Chicharito” heading back to the Premier League?

[ MORE: John Terry signs for Villa ]

Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer is reportedly attracting interest from West Ham United, with the El Tri star having a $16.8 million release clause in his contract.

Sky Sports in the UK reported on Monday that West Ham are in talks with Bayer Leverkusen and ProSoccerTalk understands that there is strong interest in Hernandez from the Hammers.

Chicharito’s contract has just 12 months remaining and this season is a big one for him ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia with El Tri all but qualified for the tournament.

After scoring once and impressing in Mexico’s fourth-place finish at the 2017 Confederations Cup, the Bayer Leverkusen forward is still highly thought of in England after winning two Premier League titles with Manchester United during his five years at Old Trafford.

At 29 years of age, Hernandez is smack bang in his prime and even if West Ham don’t sign the predatory forward, surely other PL clubs will be intrigued by the news of a fairly cheap release clause.

Hernandez is a streaky forward but he’s managed to score 28 goals in 54 Bundesliga games over the past two seasons, with 39 goals in 76 games in all competitions. Not too shabby.

With Leverkusen coming off a disappointing season as they finished 12th in the Bundesliga — former boss Roger Schmidt lost his job in March and now Heiko Herrlich is in charge — despite reaching the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League, perhaps this is a good time for Chicharito to move on.

West Ham certainly need one thing Hernandez can provide: goals.

Slaven Bilic‘s side struggled mightily to an 11th place finish in the PL last season and without regular striker Andy Carroll for most of the campaign due to injury, they scored just 47 goals in 38 games.

With talented wide-men at the London Stadium in Michail Antonio, Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini pulling the strings, you would expect plenty of quality deliveries for Carroll and Hernandez to feed off. That old-fashioned little and large partnership could prove fruitful for the Hammers and Hernandez would be a regular starter as they look to push once again for a spot in Europe as they settle at their impressive new home in east London.

This move would be a good fit all around, it would seem.

West Ham 1-2 Chelsea: Blues suffocate Irons

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  • Hazard opens scoring
  • Costa scores 49th PL goal
  • Table lead grows to 10

Compact and unbreakable until stoppage time, Chelsea gave West Ham little opportunity to score in a 2-1 derby win at the London Stadium on Monday.

Eden Hazard and Diego Costa scored the Blues goals, as Chelsea went 10 points clear of second-place Spurs with the win.

Manuel Lanzini scored as West Ham stayed 11th with 33 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The most notable moments in the early stages were derby-typical enough; One confrontation left Gary Cahill in need of a new shirt, while Andy Carroll was bloodied in a 50/50 challenge with Victor Moses.

Chelsea scored on the first real moment of danger for either side, with Eden Hazard’s razor-thin onside run meeting Pedro‘s through ball. The Belgian then walked around a charging Darren Randolph to side-foot an offering inside the near post.

Mark Noble set Manuel Lanzini up for West Ham’s best chance of the half, but the Argentine attacker lifted his 18-yard attempt a bit over the bar.

It should’ve been 2-0 when Diego Costa couldn’t adjust to Hazard’s square ball, Aaron Cresswell blocked Victor Moses shot, and Randolph did away with a Pedro blast.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Costa didn’t miss his next best chance, and it came via set piece. Pedro Obiang missed his attempted clearance of a corner, which turned into a flick to Costa.

Cesc Fabregas shouldered a ball out of the 18 moments later, though Andre Marriner wasn’t ready to call a handball.

West Ham had some promising moments as the match approached the hour mark, with Robert Snodgrass chipping a shot over Thibaut Courtois but also missing the far corner. Jose Fonte then headed a Winston Reid cross over the bar.

The chances didn’t all go the way of West Ham the Irons fought to drag a goal back, with Randolph slapping a strong Costa effort wide in the 67th minute.

West Ham was regularly forced to take shots from poor or low-success positions, as Lanzini and Obiang both belted speculative efforts from distance when confounded by compact Chelsea.

Lanzini did score late in stoppage time, besting Nemanja Matic and Gary Cahill to a loose ball after David Luiz forced Andre Ayew into traffic.