Manchester United kickstart their Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace this evening with Donny van de Beek in line to make his debut, though it could be from the substitutes’ bench. Express Sport brings you updates from Old Trafford.
Man United’s first game of the 2020-21 Premier League season is finally here – and the Red Devils will be looking start strongly following the off-pitch wins managed by some of their rivals of late, with Tottenham signing Gareth Bale and Sergio Reguilon and Liverpool landing Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota – not to mention Chelsea and Arsenal’s summer business.
The Red Devils have been criticised for a perceived lack of action throughout the window although they did bring in Van de Beek from Ajax last month.
The Netherlands international, 23, is in line to feature today as United look to start the campaign on the right foot – hoping not just to qualify for the Champions League but maybe even challenge Liverpool and Manchester City at the summit of the table.
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And the dynamism of their latest signing could be a big helping hand in the Red Devils’ hopes of competing for major honours.
Solskjaer said of Van de Beek ahead of today’s showdown: “He’s settled in really well. He’s a smashing boy, great personality; he’s come in with loads of energy and a big smile every day.
“He played well against Aston Villa so you’re likely to see him. Of course, I’m not going to name the team here today. I’ll have to do that to the boys after, in training.
“You can see his enthusiasm – enthusiasm for football – but you can also see his enthusiasm for space and space into the box, and I think we needed to add goals from midfield.
“He’s one of those who will definitely give us penetrative runs, runs in behind, clever movements and he’s added to the squad really nicely.”
While Palace boss Roy Hodgson said: “They [United] most definitely have progressed as a team, and they’ve certainly improved their personnel enormously.
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“They’ve brought in players of the quality of Fernandes, Pogba is back – I don’t know how fit he is but certainly back at full strength at the end of the season in the last period post lockdown.
“They’ve just bought a top, top class player in Van de Beek, so really and truly we’re facing a stronger team now at least on paper than a year ago, and that’s a compliment if you like to the work Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his staff have done, and the backing he’s received from the board.
“They certainly have a wealth of talent, and we expect them to use that wealth of talent to win football matches and climb up the table.”
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£40m new boy Van de Beek could make his first competitive appearance for United in midfield while Paul Pogba is expected to start despite a two-week quarantine following a positive coronavirus test.
Mason Greenwood has been training with the first-team squad again after being made to train on his own after his early return from England duty and could start on the right wing.
Defenders Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones are the only players United will definitely be without.
Eberechi Eze made his first start in Palace’s midweek Carabao Cup penalty shootout loss to Bournemouth and should retain his spot here.
Michy Batshuayi could drop back to the bench in favour of Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew up top while Vicente Guaita, Scott Dann, Joel Ward and Andros Townsend are among the others expected to return to the side.
Gary Cahill, James Tomkins and Patrick van Aanholt are all injured while the likes of Christian Benteke, Connor Wickham and Jairo Riedewald face fitness tests.
Manchester United starting XI: TBC @ 4.30pm
Crystal Palace starting XI: TBC @ 4.30pm
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