Match Preview: Manchester United Vs Birmingham City
The fixture list has perhaps been kind to United in that new boys Birmingham City visit Old Trafford on the opening day, or the day after the opening day anyway. The Blues have made a lot of new signings but that isn’t going to make any difference to how this game will turn out and I doubt anyone will be betting on Birmingham getting something out of the visit to Manchester.
The big question is what will United’s starting line-up look like? Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia could both be in contention to start this match and to be honest I doubt Sir Alex will go with his best eleven for this fixture, though then again he might just to guarantee the first three points.
United do have quite a lengthy injury list going into the new season. Goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar is out until October with a thumb/wrist problem meaning Ben Foster will probably deputise in his place. Nani dislocated his shoulder in the Community Shield and there is no return date for him yet. Nemanja Vidic is out until August 22 at least meaning he may miss the first few games while fellow defenders Gary Neville and Wes Brown are also doubts though both may just make it back in time to face Birmingham. Owen Hargreaves knee injury is still keeping him sidelined and no one seems to know when he’ll be back in action.
Despite this list of players out (new boy Obertan and Rafael also look likely to sit out) you would still expect Ferguson to lead United to victory at the weekend but it is slightly worrying that some key players will miss the first few fixtures.
Bizarrely Birmingham have the same number of injuries as United (both have eight players out, the highest number of all the Premier League clubs) and they will be missing some key players as well. Liam Ridgewell has a broken leg and won’t play again until January at the earliest. New boy Scott Dan will have to wait for his Premier League debut as he is sidelined with a thigh injury. Record signing Christian Benitez looks likely to sit out with a shoulder injury with fellow Ecuadorian Giovanny Espinoza also struggling to be fit in time. The remainder of the injury list is made up of midfielder Jordon Mutch, striker Marcus Bent and defenders Martin Taylor and David Murphy.
It may not be a glamour tie to start the new campaign (I never count the Community Sheild, even when United win it) but they’re all important fixtures and I’m looking forward to seeing how United line up. It might take a bit of getting used to having Owen in the team but he is a fantastic goal scorer and could be used in the same way Teddy Sherringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were utilised in days gone by. Without Cristiano Ronaldo (I nearly managed to go the whole article without mentioning him but I suppose it has to be said) Sir Alex says United will play in a slightly different manner to encourage goals from all over the park.
I doubt the tactics will be a dramatic departure from last season but it will be intriguing to see how United cope without in the first game of the season. The Premier League betting odds have United as clear favourites in this one and personally I can’t see the Blues getting anything out of this, even though United are missing some key men.