Hull vs Man Utd: Can Phelan outthink Pogba and Ibrahimovic?
Former United assistant has a point to prove, but Mourinho should have enough quality to blunt the Tigers' claws
It's week three of the Premier League and surely too early to tell how the season will pan out - but that will not stop people trying and there is one match that provides two very different storylines this weekend.
There are only four teams with a 100 per cent record left in the top flight - Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Hull - and two of them will meet on Sunday.
It would be preposterous to describe United's clash with Hull as season defining, but there is little doubt that a win for United would have people rushing to anoint Jose Mourinho's team as the real deal in the title race. A shock win for Hull, meanwhile, would undoubtedly prompt hysterical comparisons with Leicester City.
The relegation favourites are at home and are the massive underdogs. But Mike Phelan, who is still only caretaker manager at the KC Stadium, has a point to prove.
He was Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant for many years at Old Trafford but was thrown out with the bath water when David Moyes arrived. Despite a CV featuring three Premier League titles, two League Cups and two Champions League final appearances, he has never been deemed worthy of a full-time managerial job, writes John Payne in Metro's Match Zone.
A win for Hull would not only get the bookies sweating, but "it might also end the questions about what Fergie's old sidekick has to do to be able to declare himself Mike Phelan, football manager", adds the journalist.
That would be the romantic outcome, but Mourinho is not much of a sentimentalist and reality may bite on Saturday afternoon, especially as Hull are down to the bare bones after failing to sign anyone over the summer.
"Phelan has worked wonders with just 13 fit senior players on the books but can a makeshift centre-back like Jake Livermore really handle Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has quickly taken the Premier League in his imperious stride?" asks Martin Fisher of the BBC. "And what about Sam Clucas versus Paul Pogba in midfield? Another tall order."
Maybe there is something to be taken from a quick glance at the standings, says Dan Jones of the London Evening Standard.
"I love looking at the Premier League table in August. Hull are third, Burnley eighth and defending champions Leicester scrap with Arsenal for 13th. But there is already an ominous sight, as Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho rest on maximum points: a Manchester one-two. We may well be looking at such a sight for the rest of the season. I hope for entertainment’s sake the rest can keep pace," he writes
This weekend's fixtures, 3pm unless stated:
Chelsea v Burnley
Crystal Palace v Bournemouth
Everton v Stoke
Leicester v Swansea
Southampton v Sunderland
Watford v Arsenal
Hull v Man Utd (5.30pm)
West Brom v Middlesbrough (1.30pm)
Man City v West Ham (4pm)