After what seemed an awfully long two-month hiatus, the Premier League will restart and Manchester United will play host to Tottenham Hotspur in what could be a blockbuster curtain-raiser to the new 2015/16 campaign. Definitely the tie of the round that pits two clubs with lofty ambitions against each other, it should be interesting to see how the teams and their new signings have followed up their respective pre-season performances on the opening day when it all unfolds.
Louis Van Gaal has overseen a major reshuffle again during the summer, bringing in about 5 players which could easily be 6 by the weekend and offloading an astonishing 13 between the first-team squad and the reserves suggests that the Dutch boss is having it all his own way so far. But what he will need more than most is a good start to set the tone of the season which has all the makings of a rollercoaster one.
This could be a make-or-break season for Mauricio Pochettino going by Levy’s administration but Tottenham have done reasonably well so far in the transfer window unlike recent years by strengthening a few key areas and also getting rid of most of their deadwood. Tottenham have adopted a different approach in the transfer market as Pochettino has somewhat re-shaped his squad to his liking. Right-back Kieran Trippier and centre-back Kevin Wimmer have arrived for relatively small fees whilst their biggest signing so far has come in the form of Toby Alderweireld from Atletico, who could markedly improve the back four that struggled for the best part of last season. On the back of a solid pre-season tour, Spurs should be looking to erase the memories of last season’s catastrophic 3-0 defeat with a victory at Old Trafford, a perfect springboard to the campaign ahead.
Van Gaal would be surprised himself with the lack of injury concerns worrying him ahead of the season opener meaning he will have a variety of options to pick from for the game on Saturday. As far as absentees go, forward Javier Hernandez – who is nursing a fractured collar bone – will be sidelined while goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard will also sit out with a muscular injury.
Pochettino was given a huge boost in the form of Lloris’ quick recovery as the goalkeeper warmed up for the season ahead in the 2-0 friendly win against AC Milan, amidst all speculation linking him with Saturday’s opponents. Andros Townsend will miss the trip to Old Trafford though, after he injured his shoulder in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Reading.
Manchester United 3 (Fellaini, Carrick, Rooney) Tottenham 0, Premier League, March 2015
Tottenham 0 Manchester United 0, Premier League, December 2014
Manchester United 1(Welbeck) Tottenham 2 (Adebayor, Eriksen), Premier League, January 2014
Manchester United in Pre-Season: WWWL
Spurs in Pre-Season: WWLLW
Manchester United’s defeat to Swansea at Old Trafford last season was the first time since 1972/73 that they’ve lost at home on the opening weekend.
Tottenham had the youngest average starting eleven in the top-flight last season (24 years and 281 days).
Wayne Rooney – Manchester United
There’s little doubt that Wayne Rooney will be delighted to spearhead Manchester United’s front line especially after the travails of last season which happened to be his worst in almost a decade, statistically. The 29-year old only managed to score 12 goals last campaign, a paltry figure by his standards, is already looking forward to overtaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time goal-scoring record for United and only a sustained run of games up front can help him do so, something he could get this season. Rooney, having already scored 10 goals in 15 appearances against the North London outfit has also managed to grab 6 goals on the opening weekend, more than any other current player in the league suggesting he could probably add to that tally on Saturday and lead his side to a solid home win.
Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur
This will be the season where all eyes will be on Harry Kane who had a blinder of a season in 2014/15 during which he scored a bundle of goals, winning about 24 points almost single-handedly. Kane was the go-to man in all the big games last season and I just don’t see why he cannot have another productive campaign with the Lily Whites, provided he stays injury-free. Kane, who is also linked by British media with Saturday’s opposition, became the first Tottenham player to score 30-plus goals in all competitions in a single season since Gary Lineker, certainly has all the attributes to that could make him one of the very best in the league. The prospect of playing 90 minutes of football against an unsettled central defence should excite him and keep him motivated enough ahead of the big game at Old Trafford, where he holds the key to Tottenham’s chances of staging an upset.
If you feel confident about United’s chances to win, you can put your money on a home win which is now priced at 8/13 with Bwin.
Otherwise if you fancy an upset, you can always back it up by betting with BetVictor, priced at 21/4!
Manchester United’s new look midfield to dictate the terms at Old Trafford.
Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur