Ignore the Euros. Ignore the Olympics. Ignore what’s gone on over the weekend, because the REAL football season starts again on Monday night, as United visit Goodison Park to play Everton, in what is the 188th meeting between the two teams. Pre-season seems to have been an exciting one for us reds for a change. Two fantastic signings in Shinji Kagawa and Robin Van Persie, the German and English players of the year for 2012 respectively, makes this one of the most eagerly anticipated starts to the season for a few years.
Robin Van Persie is expected to make his debut in the famous red shirt on Monday, but the defensive injury jinx from last season looks to be dragging on longer than we’d hoped, with Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Rio Ferdinand all ruled out with injury. Nemaja Vidic is due to return to competitive action after a long term injury last year, but will he be sharp enough for the tough encounter that David Moyes’ team always give us?
For Everton, midfielder Marouane Fellaini might not make it, and former United midfielder Darron Gibson is struggling with a thigh injury too.
After Tim Cahill left the Merseyside outfit, the Toffees have dipped in to the transfer market over the last few days, buying Kevin Mirallas, the 24 year old Belgian striker from Olympiakos. Mirallas bagged 20 goals in the Greek league last term, and the Everton faithful will be hoping that he can hit that sort of form here in England.
- Everton had the third-best defence in the league in 2011-12, conceding just 1.05 goals per game
- United won 13 away matches last season
- Everton lost eight of their first 14 Premier League matches last season
- The Toffees were unbeaten in their final nine league matches of last season.
We spoke to match going Everton fan Chris Barnes, and asked him for his thoughts ahead of Monday’s game. Unsurprisingly, he’s as excited as a fat kid with cake about the new season starting too…
“I’m sure any proper footy fan is giddy with optimism at this stage of the season.” Chris said. “Even us, the famous perennial slow-starters! There’s few things better than getting back to old Gwladys Street after a few months away, and not many better ways to kick it off than against United.”
With Harry Redknapp leaving Spurs at the end of last season, David Moyes was linked to the Spurs job quite heavily. Chris said: “Moyes will always be linked away from Goodison, as will our better players, which is a great credit to them. This boils down to a few things. Among them, the board’s inability to provide him with competitive transfer funds. Moyes consistently squeezes every last drop of effort and ability out of our ever-diminishing squad, yet this has always seemed to hinder his chances of more spending power rather than help it.”
The threat to United could come down the Everton left flank. Chris told us: “With Pienaar back, our left side has become our most productive area over the last couple of years. His partnership with Baines (hands off!) is second to none in terms of creativity. This, mixed hopefully with Jelavic’s continuing form, is what we’re all relying on. I’m Praying for a decent start and our usual late charge, I’m hoping for a Top 6 finish, realistically. Anything else would be a bonus in our current financial situation. Also, the emergence of local lad Ross Barkley is something I’m very interested in seeing. Another trip to Wembley wouldn’t go a miss either!
And as for Monday’s result? “I’ll stick my neck out and say a hard fought 1-1”
So football is officially back! And come 10.00pm on Monday night, lets hope United can pick up all three points against a team who are never easy for United. This could be quite an exciting season ahead…!
Wherever you’re watching it, enjoy the game.