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Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview, Possible Lineups & Key Stats

Manchester United kick off the Premier League season for a second consecutive year but will be hoping for a better result than 12 months ago when Swansea City took three points away from Old Trafford in Louis van Gaal’s first match in charge.

Tottenham Hotspur are the visitors this season, thrashed 3-0 by the Red Devils in this fixture only five months ago. Mauricio Pochettino has added to his defence over the summer but their summer dealings look far inferior compared to the hosts.

Van Gaal has brought in German centurion Bastian Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich, the highly-coveted Morgan Schneiderlin, goalscoring threat Memphis Depay, a solid right-back in Matteo Darmian and backup goalkeeper Sergio Romero – all of whom are available to make their debut on Saturday.

There were only six points between these two last season and this is arguably the most-anticipated match of the opening weekend. Manchester United look set to mount a stronger title challenge this season and are the bookmakers favourites to finish ahead of Tottenham in the league, but they will need a couple of more signings and show more consistency before they can genuinely displace Chelsea at the top of the pile.

Team News

Manchester United

Marouane Fellaini is suspended following his record on the final day of last season. Javier Hernández’s fractured collarbone looks set to keep the Mexican out – though we wouldn’t have expected either of these to start if they were fit anyway.

The big concern for United fans is that Marcos Rojo is unlikely to feature having missed pre-season after being given an extended holiday having participated in the Copa América earlier this summer.

Tottenham Hotspur

Mauricio Pochettino had it good with injuries last season and his luck continues to head into the 2015-16 season with Andros Townsend the only doubt amongst his players.

Predicted Lineups

Louis van Gaal has already confirmed Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian will start in defence on Saturday.  We’re going with Chris Smalling to be the fourth defender. Michael Carrick’s experience will help Morgan Schneiderlin bed in at Old Trafford whilst Bastian Schweinsteiger is building up his fitness. Memphis Depay did play the number 10 role in pre-season but Louis van Gaal has coached him for the Netherlands national team, using him in his strongest position on the left wing – he knows what he’s capable of. Juan Mata looks set to play the number 10 role this season but could potentially play the first two games on the right until Pedro signs. Wayne Rooney starts up front.

Of the three defensive signings Mauricio Pochettino has made this summer, Toby Alderweireld and Kieran Trippier both stand a good chance of making their debut this weekend. The Belgian centre-back could play alongside fellow countryman Jan Vertonghen, with Kevin Wimmer and Eric Dier also in contention. Dier is also competition from the right-back but that spot is likely to be fought between Trippier and Kyle Walker, and the young Englishman also played some time in defensive midfield pre-season. Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb spent a lot of the second half of last season playing alongside each other in front of the back four – they face less competition for places this season following the departures of Paulinho, Étienne Capoue and Benjamin Stambouli this summer. Andros Townsend is a doubt on the right wing so Érik Lamela could start there, or even Aaron Lennon. Mousa Dembélé offers more defensive than Nacer Chadli.

Key Matchups

Juan Mata vs Nabil Bentaleb
Should Juan Mata play the number 10 role he could potentially cause havoc on the Tottenham defence. Not a huge fan of Nabil Bentaleb, whilst his partner Ryan Mason wasn’t exactly outstanding in many games versus the top sides last season. Could have pace going down either wing, Morgan Schneiderlin attacking from deep and Wayne Rooney to supply in attack – will we see the best of Mata on the opening day with all this support? We think he’s in for a great game pulling the strings on the way to a United victory.

Christian Eriksen vs Matteo Darmian
Matteo Darmian faces a tough introduction to English football if Christian Eriksen starts out on the left where he has caused problems to the United defence previously. The Danish playmaker is a top player but Darmian being Italian probably knows how to defend well. He is an attack-minded full-back it’s worth pointing out.

Chris Smalling vs Harry Kane
Manchester United’s 3-0 victory over Tottenham back in March was one of their performances of the season. Harry Kane had been in great form building up to that match but was then held in check by his fellow England international – the Spurs striker’s only shot on target coming in the 89th minute that day. Another quiet game for Kane may lead to another clean sheet for David de Gea in this fixture on Saturday.

Key Stats

1 – Harry Kane had only one shot on target in this fixture in March, last season.

10 – Wayne Rooney has scored 10 goals in his 15 Premier League appearances for Manchester United versus Tottenham Hotspur.

53 – Tottenham Hotspur conceded more goals than any of the top 13 teams in the Premier League last season.