Manchester United vs. Manchester City: Predicting the Starting XI
Manchester United have had a great preseason. They have defeated European Champions Barcelona 2-1 in a friendly, the MLS All- Stars (a side with the likes of David Beckham and Thierry Henry, as well as Landon Donovan) were duly dispatched 4-0, and MLS sides Seattle Sounders and New England Revolution were defeated 7-0 and 4-1.
Their transfer activity has been encouraging, if not slightly reactionary. Alex Ferguson has brought in Ashley Young for £16 million from Aston Villa to boost his midfield, as well as goalkeeper David De Gea and British youngster Phil Jones.
The first game of the season is necessary to set the tone for the entire campaign. It is necessary to make a statement of intent by delivering a great performance. Manchester United have the chance to prove that they will be able to retain the title.
GK: David De Gea
David De Gea is the more talented than Anders Lindegaard. There is no doubt about that. However, Lindegaard has looked more composed in preseason and has more match experience than De Gea. Anyways, I do not believe that Ferguson will hesitate to make risky choices in big matches.
LB: Patrice Evra
The French left-back is one of the best left-backs in the world. He has great pace, crossing ability and leadership qualities. He has been a fixture in the United starting XI for quite a long time. He should be nailed on for a place in the starting XI.
CBs: Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand
Nemanja Vidic is a great centre-back. His last-ditch defending style has been an excellent foil to Rio Ferdinand's more ball-playing skills. Vidic and Ferdinand have been one of the best defensive partnerships in the world, if not the best. They should be nailed-on certainties to start, with Jonny Evans's poor form and Phil Jones's youth.
RB: Fabio Da Silva
Fabio has been United's starter for the Champions League final, and has generally looked better than his brother, Rafael, whenever he plays. His pace, exuberance and general energetic qualities should lead Fergie to give him a starting pace. Also, against Barcelona he was one of the best players on the pitch. He was instrumental in keeping the Barcelona attack at bay.
CMs: Tom Cleverley and Anderson
Tom Cleverley is a revelation. He has impressed for Wigan last season, providing the creative spark that attackers Rodallega and midfielders N'Zogbia and McCarthy. More recently, he has provided us a glimpse of his versatility , showing us his ball-winning skills against the likes of Iniesta and Thiago Alcantara, some of the best midfilders in Europe.
Anderson has been youthful, energetic and a great passer and can act as the playmaker in a two-man midfield. He is younger than Giggs and has been able to keep up with the pressing game of Barcelona, something which Giggs was ultimately unable to do.
Nani was United's player of the season 2010-11. He dragged them though the Premier League and was the assists leader in the league. He admittedly fell away for the late phase of the season, but this was partly due to the emergence of Luis Valencia and Ji Sung Park.
Nani was also the best player on the pitch against Barcelona in the FedEx Stadium, where they won 2-1, Nani opening the scoring for Manchester United. He is a potent attacking weapon, he is pacy, a great crosser and has a trick or two in him.
SS and CF: Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov
Wayne Rooney has hit form at the end of last season ans helped United to push on for the title. His dribbles, playmaking skills, and technical ability have contributed greatly to the goal gluts of Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov.
Berbatov is a class player. His technique is excellent and so is his finishing. Hernandez's injury and Rooney's lack of understanding with Welbeck should keep them out of the squad.
LM: Ashley Young
Ashley Young is much the similar player as Nani. He can dribble, shoot and cross, but unlike Nani, he can cut inside and playmake, as well. He has done well in preseason and should start against City.