Old Trafford, Manchester
August 17, 2010,
Kick off: 12:30 AM IST – Live on ESPN
Manchester United entertain Newcastle at Old Trafford on the opening day of a new season as they bid to regain their lost crown. This fixture is scheduled as the last of the opening round of matches but never the less it’s certainly an eye catching dual. Newcastle is back after a year in the Championship and couldn’t have chosen a tougher opponent as they hope to re-establish themselves as a premier league club. After a record breaking season in the lower division, the Magpies would be looking to carry on the good work, although it would be foolish to expect miracles. On the brighter side though, last time the Barcodes gained promotion into the elite they went on and finished third.
The young Mexican has been brilliant in pre-season
Long gone are the days when the two teams involved in this fixture would battle for the premier league crown. The Toon army would “love it” to be the case, but reality is glaringly different. The Red Devils have had a pretty good preseason and the Community Shield win would have certainly boosted their morale. Old Trafford would be expecting a scintillating display to lay down the marker for the rest of the league and after Chelsea’s brilliant opening day salvo, a response might be needed. The squad has been strengthened by the addition of Javier ‘Chicharito‘ Hernandez, Chris Smalling and Bebe’ – none of them house hold names, but all with tremendous potential – especially the young Mexican forward. Wayne Rooney also has a point to prove after a disastrous world cup and certain off field misadventures. Paul Scholes rolled back the years with another masterful display against Chelsea in the Shield and would be expected to provide the creative spark to drive the Reds forward. Man United don’t have any major injury worries other than those of long term absentees Hargreaves, Anderson and Ferdinand. Patrice Evra has been given an extended rest after his diabolic world cup while Gary Neville lacks match fitness apparently.
Newcastle fans would be relishing the opportunity to once again travel to a stadium like Theatre of Dreams after a year in the Championship. But more importantly are their players also looking up towards the challenge at hand? Chris Hughton’s boys can draw inspiration from the corresponding fixture of their last campaign in the premier league where they held the Old Trafford outfit to a 1-1 draw. Andy Carroll would be intrusted to lead the line and provide the goal scoring threat but his task would be cut out having to deal with Nemanja Vidic. Newcastle have spent wisely in the summer bringing in the young and exciting Dan Gosling from Everton, defender James Perch from Nottingham Forest and the experienced Sol Campbell from the Gunners. Ex-ManUnited Academy player Danny Simpson might miss out on his return to Old Trafford as he is struggling with a knee injury. Gosling and Steven Taylor are also out with injuries.
Andy Carroll was brilliant for Newcastle in the championship
To state the obvious, this is a big game for two very important teams of the Premier League era. Newcastle are desperate to begin with a good start so that they don’t get involved in the relegation dog fight come May next year. United on the other hand would be looking to re-ignite the aura of invincibility that has defined them so often in the past. Expect a cracker of a contest.
Key Match Facts:
1) Newcastle last won at Old Trafford in February ’72.
2) Manchester United have lost only one of their last 14 opening day fixtures while the magpies have only won 3 of their last 11.
3) The Red Devils have won 12 of their last 15 encounters with Newcastle.
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch Out For: Luis Antonio Valencia
Valencia could be menacing for the new boys
The Ecuadorian wide man had a superb game against Chelsea in the Shield Final and would be looking to build on an impressive first season in the red-half of United.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Man United 3-0 Newcastle United
The Red Devils will be too hot to handle for the newly promoted Newcastle United. Expect a strong United performance at home amongst anti-Glazer chants.