Manchester United

v/s

Tottenham Hotspur

Old Trafford

8th August 2015; 1730 BST

***

Louis van Gaal will look to start his second Premier League season on a winning note, after feeling the after effects of a bad start last season throughout the rest of the campaign. United were however handed a stern opening test in the form of Tottenham Hotspur, whose recent record against Manchester United has erased the voodoos of the past.

United have bolstered their ranks considerably, making five summer signings in the form of Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Memphis Depay and Sergio Romero. Moreover, the sale of want-away winger Angel Di Maria has nearly paid for all the summer signings itself, while the departures of Falcao, Nani, Van Perie and Rafael have reduced United’s wage bill by A?850,000 a week.

United enjoyed a productive pre-season campaign, defeating Club America, San Jose Earthquakes and reigning European champions Barcelona, before succumbing to a 2-0 defeat against Paris Saint Germain. The Red Devils came out of the pre-season without any injuries and with their summer signings appearing to have already settled in well.

In contrast, Tottenham have only made four relatively low-key signings – Toby Alderweireld, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier and Kevin Wimmer – in the summer transfer window as most of the clubs around them in the Premier League have made significant investment.

Having edged LA Galaxy, Tottenham were thrashed by Real Madrid before saving face in a victory against AC Milan. Their team still looked under construction, though younger stars such as Mason and Dele Alli made a positive impact.

Team News and Tactics

Manchester United

.

Louis van Gaal confirmed that David De Gea will not be playing the opening game against Tottenham, as he is not mentally prepared. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marcos Rojo have been ruled out due to lack of match rhythm, whilst Maroune Fellaini is serving the first of his three match ban, for a red card received on the final day against Hull City.

United are likely to field three new summer signings in the first XI. Matteo Darmian has proven why he should be chosen as the first choice right-back with some splendid performances in the pre-season. Luke Shaw is likely to start on the left for the same reason. While Daley Blind’s slow conversion to centre-back might perplex a fair few, Marcos Rojo’s lack of match fitness, leaves Blind the only plausible left footed defender. He is likely to be paired with Chris Smalling, who seemed to grow into the role of defensive leader towards the end of last season.

Van Gaal is likely to start with a double pivot of Carrick and Schneiderlin, assisted by either Memphis Depay or Ander Hererra in front of them. Hererra proved vital in United’s last meeting with Tottenham, yet is unlikely to start, given van Gaal’s likeliness to use Memphis as a deeper number 10.

In the attack, the three men who starred in the 3-0 victory in February are likely to do so again. Mata is likely to function as an inverted winger on the right, with Young marshalling the left, and Rooney at the apex of the attack.

With De Gea not playing, Louis van Gaal was asked whether summer signing Sergio Romero would start, to which the Dutchman responded: “You will have to see”. While Romero has played with van Gaal at AZ Alkmaar, Sam Johnstone is match fit and has played over 100 minutes in the pre season

Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Johnstone, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Depay, Mata, Young, Rooney (C).
football formations

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham have only made four relatively low-key signings — Toby Alderweireld, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier and Kevin Wimmer – in the summer transfer window as most of the clubs around them in the Premier League have made significant investment.

The biggest worry for them at the time of writing concerns Pochettinoa s options up front. With Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado being shuffled towards the exit a neither has played any part in pre-season a Kane is the lone senior striker at the managera s disposal, although Pochettino does say that Soldado remains a part of his plans.

Kane is a player who has only just turned 22 and has six months of experience as a Premier League regular to his name, albeit a wonderful six months. He cannot be expected to shoulder the responsibility alone, as the expectations for him will be at astronomical levels.

The club have moved swiftly on their defensive targets, however, with Toby Alderweireld snatched from the clutches of Southampton (where he spent last season on loan), following the signings of Kevin Wimmer and Kieran Trippier.

Alderweireld will partner his Belgium team-mate Jan Vertonghen in central defence, with the curiosity being that the pair occupy the full-back positions for their national team a Alderweireld on the right; Vertonghen the left. There is the belief at Tottenham that the Belgians ought to be the perfect partnership, although that remains to be seen.

Though Hugo Lloris came on at half-time in Tottenham’s final pre-season game against AC Milan, it is unlikely that he starts against Manchester United. Pochettino however did admit that both Ryan Mason and Hugo Lloris were available for selection for the game against United.

Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Vorm, Walker, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Rose, Bentaleb, Mason, Chadli, Eriksen, Demb l , Kane (C).
football formations

Key Facts

  • United have beaten Tottenham only once in the last 4 encounters, before which, United won 10 out of 12 games against the Londoners
  • United have lost 3 of their last 4 opening games in the Premier League
  • Before signing for United, van Gaal admits that he came a Very close,a to taking over as Tottenham boss, from Tim Sherwood.

Player to watch out for

France vs Denmark

Morgan Schneiderlin
Despite being highly courted by Pochettino, after the Spaniards move to Tottenham, it was Manchester United who eventually won the battle this summer.Having failed to sign a proper authoritative midfielder since Roy Keane, United look to have finally found their hardman in Morgan Schneiderlin.

An archetypal play-breaker, Schneiderlin will provide both the stability and steel that has been missing from United’s game. His positional awareness and passing accuracy make him the ideal fit at the heart of United’s midfield, shielding both centre backs, while simultaneously starting play from deep.

Schneiderlin will be pivotal against Tottenham’s fast paced counter as he will bear a larger amount of the defensive duties in a double pivot, while Michael Carrick architects passes and plays.

Prediction

Given their successful pre-season training, and quality signings, Manchester United should edge this fixture 3-2. Both teams will have new defences and with United having either Johnstone or Romero debuting, conceding a goal, or maybe two, does not seem a very outlandish supposition.

Blast from the Past