LONDON (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku’s remarkable scoring record against West Ham United means he will expect to hit the ground running when he makes his Premier League debut for Manchester United today.
The Belgium international, 24, scored nine goals in his first nine appearances against West Ham for former team Everton before the east London club finally kept him at bay in a 0-0 draw last April.
Lukaku scored a consolation goal as United lost 2-1 to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in the Macedonian capital Skopje on Tuesday and his team-mates have been impressed by what they have seen in pre-season.
“Lukaku has done a great job with the clubs that he has been at,” said United right-back Antonio Valencia.
“I am a kid next to Romelu. He truly is strong. I have seen him work on the field and in the gym.
“It’s truly incredible to see his strength, power and the intelligence he possesses. We hope it is a good year for him and the team.”
Lukaku, a £75 million ($97.3 million) capture from Everton, could be one of three players making league debuts for United today along with Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic.
United manager Jose Mourinho used a conservative 5-3-1-1 system against Real Madrid, but is likely to be bolder against West Ham, who have not won at Old Trafford in 10 years.
Mourinho has no new injury concerns, with Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young his only long-term absentees.
Defenders Eric Bailly and Phil Jones return to contention after sitting out the Super Cup through suspension.
Having led United to League Cup and Europa League glory last season, Mourinho’s challenge for the new campaign is to turn them into title contenders.