Manchester United-Hull City Preview
Jose Mourinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba will sprinkle some stardust on Humberside this Saturday when Hull host Manchester United at the KCOM Stadium.
United (2-0-0) have enjoyed a perfect start to life under their new manager, dramatically strengthening the squad and fostering a positive atmosphere around the club. A Community Shield win to start the season was followed by back-to-back league victories.
Juan Mata has been one of the surprise success stories of that impressive opening to the campaign, featuring in all three matches despite a less than harmonious relationship history with his new manager. And while the Spanish international has done enough to suggest he will be a feature of United's potential title charge, he has spoken of the importance of doing more to get the fans back on-side after the disappointment of the Louis van Gaal era.
"It is vital if we want to make every game at Old Trafford a special day," Mata said. "It is also vital, in my opinion, to generate that 'chemistry' with our fans in order to make our stadium a very tough place for the other teams.
"It's still August and that means we are still working on a few adjustments. We know there's still room for improvement."
That continues this weekend.
"We have a tough game ahead on Saturday at Hull City," Mata said. "It's never easy and they are one of the four teams that have won the first two games this season. They are back in the Premier League this year and are having a surprising start. We will try to win and keep our good streak."
Hull (2-0-0) have also enjoyed a terrific start, defying their odds as favourites for relegation to win back-to-back matches. Hull also progressed to the third round of the cup with a routine 3-1 win over Exeter City, but Ahmed Elmohamady - who captained the Tigers in their midweek victory - said that the players turned their attention straight to United after the game.
"We're getting ourselves ready for Manchester United," Elmohamady said. "We were straight back into training on Wednesday morning after the cup game and we know it is going to be a tough match, but it is at our home."
And there should be a good number of interest.
"It's live on the television and we have to enjoy occasions like this," Elmohamady said. "We have to show everybody how good we are as a team again and we can't wait for the game.
"The spirit in our group is very high and that is a big thing. We're all very close and we've shown everybody what our character is like in the first two league games. We want to continue that against Manchester United."
Hull will be without Alex Bruce and Michael Dawson for the fixture, with the two regular centre-backs still recovering from Achilles and knee injuries, respectively.
United's only injury concern is Jesse Lingard, who faces a late fitness test after missing training with an ankle problem.
Hull picked up a point in their most recent match against United - a 0-0 draw on the final weekend of the 2014-15 season. That is the Tigers' only positive result in eight Premier League meetings, with United winning the first seven encounters by a combined score of 21-7.
That clean sheet was also the only time that Hull have shut out the Manchester club in their eight top-fight games, and one of just two times that they have restricted United to under three goals.