Manchester United’s Premier League season starts on Saturday afternoon with an Old Trafford match against Crystal Palace, beginning what promises to be an action-packed 2020/21 campaign.
Here’s everything you need to know about this weekend’s big game…
Kick-off at the Theatre of Dreams is scheduled for 17:30 BST and fans in the UK can watch the match live on Sky Sports. Supporters can also follow our rolling updates on ManUtd.com and within our Official App, while MUTV will provide live build-up, radio commentary and reaction from 16:25 BST.
In case you were wondering, our first league game of 2020/21 was delayed by a week due to the club’s involvement in last season’s Europa League semi-finals.
SETTING THE SCENE
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Reds are back in competitive action – get in! – following a short summer break and the squad is determined to build on last season’s third-placed finish in the league. The addition of new signing Donny van de Beek from Ajax will aid that mission and he is in the frame to make his competitive debut.
Palace finished 14th last term and Roy Hodgson’s team made a bright start to the new campaign, by beating Southampton 1-0 at Selhurst Park on Saturday. The Eagles are in action again on Tuesday night, with an EFL Cup tie against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
EARLY TEAM NEWS
It is difficult to gauge which United players will be available until the manager holds his pre-match press conference on Friday, at a time to be confirmed, but we know Axel Tuanzebe is currently injured.
Seven members of the regular starting XI towards the end of last season – David De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial – missed the pre-season friendly against Aston Villa at the weekend, but that does not mean they are ruled out. Our team at Villa Park was: Henderson (Grant 75), Dalot (Williams 70), Fosu-Mensah, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay (Galbraith 45), van de Beek, Lingard, Rashford (Elanga 75), James and Ighalo (Mengi 61).
Meanwhile, Palace reportedly have seven injured players in Patrick van Aanholt, Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins, Connor Wickham, Gary Cahill, Christian Benteke and Nathan Ferguson. The Eagles’ squad against Southampton last weekend was as follows: Guaita, Ward, Kouyate, Dann, Mitchell, Townsend, McArthur, McCarthy (Milivojevic 74), Schlupp (Eze 81), Zaha, Ayew.
BIG TALKING POINT
The first game of the season is always an exciting occasion, often because it presents an opportunity to watch a new signing in action, which is definitely the case this weekend with millions of fans eager to see Donny van de Beek in red. The Dutchman has been described as one of European football’s brightest young players and could feature in central midfield.
“I will give everything to the club and I hope we can take titles and a lot of prizes,” he said earlier this month.
Solskjaer is also excited about his new signing, telling us last week:
“When we signed Bruno Fernandes, we knew we needed that kind of player, now we’ve signed Donny and he’s a type of player I felt we needed in the squad. He’s the type of person that will fit the culture, fit the team and will improve us next season and for years to come.”
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, fans are still not permitted to attend matches and all Premier League fixtures are being played without supporters inside stadiums.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Assistants: Lee Betts, Peter Kirkup.
Fourth official: Robert Jones.
VAR: Jonathan Moss.
Assistant VAR: Marc Perry.