Oh it’s finally time. After a long, sad summer of waiting, the Premier League returns and American mornings of watching the most famous league in the world continues. The opening weekend of action pits two top-four contenders against each other as Manchester United hosts Tottenham Hotspur. Who will win this early battle of the bigs?

This has been an active summer of buying and selling for the hosts. United have brought in the likes of Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Matteo Darmian while losing record signing Ángel Di María, Rafeal, and Robin Van Persie. The major difference between this summer’s additions and last year’s transfers is how early they were brought into Louis Van Gaal’s system. Ángel Di María and Radamel Falcao both joined the club on deadline day and did not have any form of a preseason to settle into their new surroundings. This led to inconsistency on the field and the disappointing performances led to both of those blockbuster players not being on the squad for the upcoming campaign. All of the new singings this year, however, were able to partake in United’s American tour and have had more than a month to build chemistry with their new teammates. This additional time with the squad should allow these new players to have more of an impact than their predecessors and United fans will be hoping that leads to an opening day victory over Spurs.

Manchester United will open this Premier League season without their best player from last season. Louis Van Gaal has confirmed to reporters that it is unlikely that David De Gea, as well as Marcos Rojo and Schweinsteiger, will be on the field Saturday due to a concern over their fitness. The Dutch manager had to deal with countless injuries throughout last season so it’s no surprise that he’s doing all he can to avoid a repeat of that spell. The loss of De Gea in net and demotion of Victor Valdes to the reserves means that Van Gaal must choose between academy product Sam Johnstone or new signing Sergio Romero. Neither one of these players has registered a single appearance in Premier League play, but Romero has played on the biggest of stages as Argentina’s starting keeper. Despite his impressive international résumé, I do not think that Romero will be the starter day one. Johnstone has appeared in all of United’s preseason games and looked good when he was on the field. Until Romero may well be the eventual number one should United sell De Gea this summer, but I think Johnstone starts day one. No matter what the choice, fans will be concerned about the absence of their true number one and Spurs may be licking their lips at the chance to test an untested keeper.

The biggest name to burst onto the scene last year had to be Tottenham’s English sensation Harry Kane. The 21-year-old striker was the team’s leading scorer and his 21-goal tally was good enough for second best in the league. In his two appearances against the Red Devils last campaign, Kane was kept off the score sheet and at the start of the summer, some reporters believed that he was a top target for this weekend’s opponents. Now that every team in the league is fully aware of the Spurs striker’s potential, can he rack up a similar goal tally this campaign. A goal against United to open up the season could be the perfect spark to ignite another amazing campaign for the young forward.

A major issue for Spurs last year came in defense. Out of the top ten finishers in the league, the North London club allowed the most goals against (53) and their hot offense managed to salvage a +5 goal differential. The addition of Toby Alderweireld provides star quality in the heart of the defense and his partnership with fellow Belgian Jan Vertonghen could determine whether or not Spurs improve on last year’s defensive woes. The Tottenham defense will most likely go against United shorthanded, as first choice keeper Hugo Lloris looks set to miss the match through injury. This means that Michel Vorm will start between the pipes and the Dutchman has been far from convincing in the preseason. His less than convincing form leading up to this match won’t provide Spurs’ fans with very much optimism going into the game, and with the strong attack of United, they’ll need Vorm to be at his sparkling best if they hope to walk away with points.

When Tottenham travelled to Old Trafford last year, they left Old Trafford on the wrong end of a 3-0 result. The porous defense of the visitors could lead to a similar result this year, but Harry Kane could have something to say about that. United fans will be watching to see how their new signings meld into the squad and both teams will be hoping to start the latest edition of the Barclays Premier League with an invaluable three points. My final prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham.


Tags: , , , , , , ,