Competition: Premier League – Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Venue: Old Trafford – Saturday, August 8 – 12:45 BST (07:45 ET)
Match Odds: Manchester United 4/7 – Draw 3/1 – Spurs 5/1
The 2015/16 Premier League season kicks off at Old Trafford for the second successive year as Manchester United host Tottenham Hotspur in what should be an excellent opening game at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.
Both teams come into the new campaign hoping to improve on last year’s fourth and fifth placed finishes respectively, with United looking to mount a serious title challenge and Spurs trying to break into that elusive top four once again.
The Red Devils have had a good summer so far, with major signings such as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Memphis Depay sure to excite supporters ahead of the new campaign.
Louis Van Gaal’s side spent preseason in the USA, taking part in the International Champions Cup where they won three of four matches. Paris Saint-Germain were the only side to beat them and that was in their final preparation game so United must improve from that 2-0 loss if they are to start the new season with three points.
Spurs had a slightly strange preseason as it only really got going two weeks ago. A series of behind-closed-doors friendlies were followed by a loss to the MLS All-Stars before they travelled to Germany to take part in the Audi Cup this week. They finished third in that tournament after losing 2-0 to Real Madrid before beating AC Milan by the same scoreline over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday.
They only flew home on Thursday and will need to make sure they are fully prepared for what will be a huge early season test for last year’s League Cup finalists.
United won the latest meeting back in March as they stunned Spurs 3-0 at Old Trafford with all three goals coming in the space of a 26 first-half minutes. The game at White Hart Lane ended 0-0 in December and Spurs will be looking to start the new season in style with three points here.
Manchester United will be without Marouane Fellaini as he serves the first of his three-game suspension, while Javier Hernandez, Anders Lindegaard and Marcos Rojo are all unlikely to make the squad as they struggle for fitness. David De Gea may start on the bench with Sergio Romero likely to be handed a first start in goal. Bastian Schweinsteiger may not make the starting XI as he battles match fitness concerns. Wayne Rooney is set to be handed a lone striking role, with Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian set to make their league debuts for United.
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has a goalkeeping problem to address of his own ahead of the opening game. Hugo Lloris returned from a wrist injury to come off the bench against AC Milan on Wednesday night but might not be fit enough to play 90 minutes, so Michel Vorm will be waiting in the wings. Andros Townsend, Ryan Mason and Alex Pritchard are all struggling with fitness and will unlikely make the trip.
Manchester United’s preseason form: W/W/W/L
Tottenham’s preseason form: L/L/W
Key Stat: Tottenham have won two of the last three games between the two at Old Trafford – their only two victories in the last 29 meetings at United.
Key Player: Wayne Rooney – It’s a huge year for the United captain as he will be given the chance to shine as a striker once again. He will want to start the season with at least one goal and can be expected to put in a fine performance.
Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur – Tough to see United slipping up as they did in last year’s opener to Swansea. Spurs may suffer from their late preseason preparations and might just come up short against a United side full of expectations for the season.