Marko Arnautovic

Mourinho: Manchester United flying at final whistle

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Jose Mourinho didn’t want to sound too positive after Manchester United’s sterling performance on Opening Day, but he couldn’t help himself.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 4-0 West Ham ]

While saying the match was more difficult than it looked, admitting that West Ham did come close to making it 2-1 through Marko Arnautovic, Mourinho said his side was humming at the final whistle.

“At 2-nil they had a chance and I don’t think the game (goes to) 4-nil,” Mourinho said. “Then of course we scored the third goal, you breathe and you relax but probably if you play 10 more minutes, more goals.”

He said United’s start of the match wasn’t what he wanted, but downplayed the lively post-match tenor of, well, everyone else. From the BBC:

“The fact we start winning and are top, it means nothing. The performance and the levels of confidence is what means a lot to me.”

United center back Phil Jones joined NBC’s broadcast crew on the Old Trafford pitch after the game, and said the side accomplished its goals for Opening Day.

“It was well-documented last season that we didn’t pick up as many points as we should’ve at home for whatever reason. It was important for us and the fans to feel and get some positive vibes at the start of the season.”

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Finally, hero Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace and said United fans can expect more of the same from Mourinho’s crew (from the BBC):

“The fans want to see attractive football and we have to stick to that. They will be pleased today. It is just the start, we need to keep working to the manager’s plan.”

Manchester United 4-0 West Ham United: Lukaku delivers the goods

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  • Lukaku scores in each half
  • Martial, Pogba score late
  • Mkhitaryan with two assists
  • Last goal pushes United top

Romelu Lukaku made a huge first impression for Manchester United in the Premier League, and the Red Devils were delightful in a 4-0 win over visiting West Ham United at Old Trafford.

Anthony Martial had a goal and an assist, Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a pair of assists, and Paul Pogba also scored for United. The Red Devils are off to Swansea next week, while West Ham stays on the road and faces Southampton.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The name of the game’s early stages was grit, as hard tackles dotted a landscape of frenetic movement.

United came close to scoring in the 18th minute, and West Ham’s back line did well to stop a prone Romelu Lukaku from testing Joe Hart.

Paul Pogba spied Juan Mata in the 27th minute, and the Spaniard looked set to square a ball for a Lukaku goal, but Angelo Ogbonna was on the scene to deny the chance.

A goal was coming to Old Trafford, and Lukaku provided it. The build-up was impressive, as Nemanja Matic broke up a spell of West Ham possession to spring Marcus Rashford

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

It was Lukaku again after the break, scoring a 53rd minute header off a Henrikh Mkhitaryan and United was well on its way.

Marko Arnautovic nearly snapped the Irons back into the match with a header over Daley Blind, but it moved just over the bar.

It was back to business for United after that, and Rashford saw a curling beauty just miss and clatter off the far post.

Martial came into the game late and did not disappointing, running onto a Mkhitaryan through ball to beat Joe Hart, and then setting up Pogba to do the same.

STREAM: Manchester United vs. West Ham United

Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images
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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.

PL Sunday preview: Man Utd, Spurs begin title quests

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We’re 80 percent of the way through the opening weekend of the 2017-18 Premier League season, which means two games — featuring two of the six presumed title hopefuls — on the Sunday schedule…

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — A wild return for the top flight! ]

Newcastle United vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Tottenham haven’t spent a penny all summer (maybe you’ve heard), despite netting $65 million in exchange for Kyle Walker, but worst of all, Danny Rose went public with his own frustrations this week, leaving one to wonder if everyone in the dressing feels the same. Suffice to say, Mauricio Pochettino welcomes the “distraction” of real games to be played.

The last time Spurs visited St. James’ Park, Newcastle embarrassed Pochettino’s men, 5-1, on the final day of the 2015-16 season. The defeat saw Spurs fall from second in the league table, down to third, behind Arsenal. The Magpies had been relegated to the Championship weeks earlier, but manager Rafa Benitez stuck around for a season in England’s second division and brought the club back to the PL at the first time of asking.

INJURIES: Newcastle — OUT: DeAndre Yedlin (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Dwight Gayle (hamstring) | Tottenham — OUT: Danny Rose (knee), Erik Lamela (hip), Son Heung-min (arm); QUESTIONABLE: Kieran Tripper (ankle), Victor Wanyama (knee)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Manchester United vs. West Ham United — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

While far from the busiest of the PL’s six title hopefuls this summer, Man United’s transfer business was conducted on a must-be-addressed basis — star striker Romelu Lukaku, to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney; Nemanja Matic, to anchor the midfield and protect a shaky set of center backs; Victor Lindelof, to displace those shaky center backs — perhaps more so than any other side. Given the number of injuries Jose Mourinho was forced to navigate last season, spending just short of $190 million on reinforcements was the Red Devils’ only way back into genuine title contention.

As for West Ham, Slaven Bilic needs to deliver serious improvement on last season’s 11th-place finish — and a much faster start to the campaign — if he’s to complete his third full season in charge of the Hammers. While Marko Arnautovic goes down as the club-record signing ($26 million) from the summer, it’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez ($18 million) on whom all eyes will be focused on Sunday, as Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer returns to Old Trafford, to face the manager who many believe forced him out, for the first time since leaving the club for Bayer Leverkusen nearly two years ago.

“I can just say it’s luck,” Hernandez said when asked about his storybook return to life in the PL. “It was a great experience [there] … only happiness. I was living my dream and made that big step, which is not common. There is nothing negative about going there. It’s going to be my first game with my new club, against my old club in my old house. It’s only positive things – it’s an important moment for me.”

INJURIES: Man United — OUT: Luke Shaw (foot), Marcos Rojo (knee), Ashley Young (hamstring), James Wilson (knee) | West Ham — OUT: Michail Antonio (hamstring), Sofiane Feghouli (hamstring), Andy Carroll (groin); QUESTIONABLE: Manuel Lanzini (knee), Marko Arnautovic (leg)

Top 5 Premier League storylines in Week 1

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The Premier League is back on Friday, and it has surely been a busy summer around England’s top flight.

Most of the league’s big boys went out and spent to refuel for the 2017/18 campaign, while newcomers Brighton, Newcastle and Huddersfield look to leave a lasting positive impression on the PL in their first season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

PST takes a look at the top 5 storylines around the opening weekend of PL action.

Champions look to Morata as Costa’s future still floating around

Chelsea vs. Burnley — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

If one thing is certain from the PL offseason it’s that Antonio Conte‘s handling of Diego Costa was completely misjudged. With the Spanish striker still on the Blues roster, despite his clear willingness to head back to Spain, Chelsea looks to another Spaniard to fill the void left by Costa.

Alvaro Morata is a different type of striker, one that relies more on his pace and technical abilities than Costa. Only time will tell, though, how the 24-year-old acclimates himself to England’s top flight after playing for the La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners at Real Madrid a season ago.

Morata bagged 20 goals in all competitions last season for Los Blancos, despite often playing second fiddle in the starting XI to Karim Benzema. There’s no question Morata is a reliable scorer, but without playmaker Eden Hazard on the pitch this weekend against Burnley it may make things a big more challenging for the new forward.

Arsenal must cope with injuries

Arsenal vs. Leicester City — Friday, 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN

The Gunners coped with the loss of several of their top players in last weekend’s FA Community Shield win over Chelsea, but Arsene Wenger and Co. will again be at a disadvantage on Friday when Arsenal faces Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium.

[ MORE: Liverpool insists Coutinho isn’t for sale at any price ]

Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are just some of the high-profile names that are expected to miss Friday’s clash against the Foxes, while Per Mertesacker will also be missing from the team’s back line.

Wenger will have to get creative with his tactics against a Leicester squad that boasts plenty of attacking firepower, including Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.

The good news for the Gunners, though, is Alexandre Lacazette will make his PL debut up front, with the club hoping he can bring his Ligue 1 scoring form to England.

Will Spurs perform up to par after quiet summer?

Newcastle United vs. Tottenham Hotspur — Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Mauricio Pochettino‘s side was invisible over the summer when it came to hitting the transfer market, and his choice of leaving his squad be was not met well by pundits.

With Chelsea, Man United, Man United and the rest of the league’s elite all making significant moves, it raised the question as to why Spurs wouldn’t add more depth to its roster.

Although Spurs are likely expected to beat Newcastle given Harry Kane, Dele Alli and the rest of the Tottenham attacking contingent, we’ll get a better look at how the back line adjusts itself without Kyle Walker. And moving forward, the club may have to perform without Danny Rose as well after his recent claims of wanting a wage increase.

New boys earn first chance to impress

Crystal Palace vs. Huddersfield Town — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Manchester City — Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC 

For Brighton and Newcastle, they probably didn’t get the opening weekend matches that they would have liked, but if they can pull off an upset then that feeling will surely go away.

Huddersfield, on the other hand, has a much more manageable fixture against Crystal Palace to open its PL account.

[ MORE: Ranking the top 10 PL players at each position ]

New-look Hammers head to Old Trafford

Manchester United vs. West Ham — Sunday, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Outside of the top seven from last season’s PL finishers, it’s an easy argument to make that West Ham has had the best summer of the rest of England’s top flighters. The club managed to bring back Mexico striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, while also acquiring Stoke attacker Marko Arnautovic and others.

The Hammers finished 11th in 2016/17, and while it was often the team’s back line that was the club’s biggest concern last season, West Ham now boasts a much more formidable attack heading into this campaign after scoring 47 goals in 38 matches last year.

Meanwhile, Hernandez will have the opportunity to play against another one of his former clubs on Sunday, with the Hammers taking on Manchester United — where the El Tri finisher played over five seasons.