The 24th Premier League season is kicked off, and headlined, by Manchester United hosting Tottenham Hotspur. The game kicks off at 12:45, but is unfortunately on BT Sport so United fans have to endure Michael Owen’s diabolical commentary.
Tottenham played 4 pre-season games behind closed doors, winning all of them, and then travelled to the United States to play the MLS All-Star team. Germany then hosted Spurs for the Audi Cup.
Tottenham lost 2-1 to the MLS All-Stars, legends David Villa and Kaká scored against the London club, but Harry Kane scored an exquisite shot from just outside of the box.
In the Audi Cup, Tottenham faced Real Madrid in the first round. They lost 2-0 with ex-player Gareth Bale scoring against them. There was some solace in Spurs’ prospect, Dele Alli, getting the best of Madrid’s other ex-Spurs player, Luka Modric, with a neat little nutmeg.
The next day (5/08/15) Spurs beat AC Milan 2-0 with Chadli scoring early on and Tom Carroll netting later to round off the win.
Neither United nor Tottenham had a perfect pre-season but both played some decent teams. However, taking too much meaning from pre-season games is about as pointless as a Family Guy joke; it means almost nothing to the actual story line, or in this case, the upcoming season.
The Ins and Outs at White Hart Lane
Spurs boss, Pochettino, has re-shaped the team to one that’s more of his liking this summer. Paulinho; Capoue; Stambouli; Chiriches; Holtby; Kaboul and; Friedel have all left Tottenham in the last few months.
Tottenham have signed 3 new defenders and have acquired their January signing, Dele Alli, from his loan back to his previous club, the MK Dons. They signed Keiran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld who both featured in the Premier League last season, but Alderweireld was signed from Atlético Madrid. The other defender is Kevin Wimmer, Tottenham’s first Austrian player. He’s a 22 year old centre back who was signed from FC Köln.
Last season the Red Devils were unbeaten against Tottenham, winning at home, 3-0, and drawing away, 0-0.
Both teams look to set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, both being led by top English strikers. Harry Kane’s out to prove that his break-out season last year wasn’t a flash in the pan. For United, Wayne Rooney needs to show that he can be an all out striker and score 20+ goals a season.
Hugo Lloris was a doubt to start the season for Spurs but it’s now fairly certain that he’ll play. David De Gea however, will not feature. Van Gaal says it’s because of the pressure being put on by the transfer rumours surrounding the Spaniard. So that means that either Romero, Johnstone, Valdes or Lindegaard will start in net. It’ll most probably be one of the first two.
United’s biggest challenge is keeping Tottenham’s front 4 at bay. Lamela, Chadli and Erikson are all very technically gifted players who will create many chances for sharpshooter Harry Kane.
A back four of Darmian, Smalling, Blind and Blackett would be best to keep these players at bay, with Schneiderlin covering them in midfield, and blocking off Eriksen’s playmaking attempts. Blackett is needed over Shaw as the latter is far more comfortable attacking and is not great on the back foot. Blackett is the opposite and a defensive fall back is needed against the attacking power of Eric Lamela. Smalling and Blind would provide the best awareness and defensive ability to keep Harry Kane from having an impact.
Manchester United should start the season off with a win. Without super-keeper De Gea in net the likelihood of conceding is increased and if some of the weaker defenders (Shaw, Jones, Evans, McNair) are chosen, this would increase it further.
I think United will win 3-1, with Rooney and Chadli scoring. There’s likely to be a few bookings as well, with there being so many quick and tricky players on the field, plus it’s the first game of the season so all will be a bit rusty. But, as a rule, I never wager on the early kick off, something always goes wrong and they ruin accumulators.
In any case it’s set to be a great opening game to get the Premier League up and running.