Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
Manchester United V Swansea City
Saturday 16th August. 12:45PM. BT Sport 1
The waiting is nearly over as the Premier League returns with Saturday’s lunchtime curtain-raiser at Old Trafford between Manchester United and Swansea.
Fans will be preparing for a nine-month rollercoaster ride and the headline stories begin from the outset as the crucial clash sees Louis van Gaal take charge of his first competitive match at the Old Trafford helm.
Worldwide supporters will watch with baited breathe to see whether the Dutchman can deliver a return to success for the 13-time Premier League champions and contest offers the perfect start to the new campaign.
Bring it on!
Can United Hit The Ground Running Under Van Gaal?
Van Gaal’s appointment has been the major discussion point of the summer but come Saturday lunchtime it will be up for his players to do the talking with their feet.
After last season’s write-off under David Moyes, Red Devils fans will be eager to see if Van Gaal can help them rediscover the winning formula that had helped them dominate English football for over two decades during the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson.
What Van Gaal will reintroduce to the Stretford End faithful is an eye-catching brand of football and we could see that in full swing against a Swansea side who may struggle in 2014/15. The players are already buying into the Dutchman’s 5-3-2 formation and those tactics should utilise the team’s imbalance, which is far more gifted in the central attacking areas.
With the likes of captain Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie all looking to impress their new manager, it could be a long afternoon for Swansea.
Swans To Sink At Old Trafford
Last season was a truly incredible campaign in which Manchester United collected a clutch of unwanted records – one of those was allowing Swansea their first win at Old Trafford.
However, the Swans did crumble to an opening 4-1 defeat to the Red Devils at the Liberty Stadium last term and it could be another one-sided affair in this year’s first league fixture. The Welshmen have lost former key man Michu this summer, whilst the unsettle future of star striker Wilfried Bony could distract the Ivorian.
Garry Monk is a legend at Swansea but the jury is still out on his managerial capabilities and it is hard to see him masterminding a triumph at Old Trafford. The Swans could be set for a long and hard season in 2014/15 and the opening trip to Manchester United isn’t exactly the start they’d have hoped for.
The Swans will play with grit and determination but their possession approach may come unstuck against the 5-3-2 formation of United. We can’t see them spoiling Van Gaal’s party.
Manchester United V Swansea Betting
Unsurprisingly, the hosts enter Saturday’s Premier League opener as the firm favourites at 1/3 with Bet365. Meanwhile, the visitors can be backed to cause a major shock at 8/1. The draw is available at 4/1.
From a betting perspective, we simply cannot overlook the value in a strong performance from the hosts. A fresh start offers renewed hope to the fallen giants and the entire squad will be determined to hit the ground running.
The Red Devils have enjoyed an extremely productive pre-season and Saturday’s contest offers a fantastic opportunity to send an early warning shot to their potential title rivals. We’re backing them to start with a bang.
Manchester United to score 2+ first-half goals is 5/2 with SkyBet
Whilst we think the hosts will have established a comfortable lead by half-time, that shouldn’t stop them from pressing in the second-half.
A big scoreline would go a long way to restoring that lost confidence and the Red Devils will be expected to keep driving forward until the very end.
Manchester United to win both halves is 21/10 with Paddy Power