The Premier League is finally back as Manchester United begin their first step of righting the wrongs of last season as they host Swansea in the first game of the 2014/15 season.
The mood surrounding United is entirely different to the negative undercurrent which was omnipresent throughout last season with an impressive unbeaten pre-season under Louis van Gaal seeing optimism rise amongst supporters.
Under Van Gaal, the Reds have seen off the likes of Real Madrid, Roma and Liverpool so far and will be looking to carry on their ‘preparation time’ form in an attempt to mount a serious charge for the title after last season’s debacle under David Moyes.
Manchester United team news
Despite a superb pre-season which has been the most overly positive one in quite some time, Van Gaal has a couple of headaches including a lack of options in central defence.
United have won six of their last nine opening weekend fixtures, and have never been beaten on the opening weekend at Old Trafford (eight wins, three draws)
Swansea team news
The Swans have had mixed preparation ahead of the new season. Their US training camp was hailed as a success by coach Gary Monk and his side have notched victories against several lower league sides. The Welsh outfit did lose to Villareal in their last outing.
Chico Flores and Pablo Hernandez have both left for Qatar but Bafetimbi Gomis and Gylfi Siggurdson will bolster Swansea’s frontline. Perhaps most importantly, Wilfried Bony, who scored 25 goals in his first season at the club, has stayed despite apparent interest.
Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge could return but Leon Britton, a key cog in Swansea’s neat and tidy midfield is likely to miss out.
The two sides met on three occasions last season with United getting the better of the Welsh side on two of three occasions.
The Moyes era kicked off with a bang as United thrashed the Swans 4-1 at the Liberty Stadium with braces from Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck. The Reds also won the return leg albeit in less convincing circumstances.
Swansea handed United a Third Round FA Cup exit in January.
Wayne Rooney, this week named as United’s permanent captain to mixed reaction, has arguably been United’s star performer so far under Louis van Gaal. Rooney is now just two away from Thierry Henry’s total of 175 Premier League goals.
Wilfried Bony has been a thorn in United’s side before having scored the winner in the aforementioned FA Cup encounter last season, as well as finding the net in the 2013/14 season opener. The Ivorian managed 16 league goals last season after moving from Vitesse Arnhem.
Confidence is high in the United camp and while Swansea can cause problems and have done so before, many predict a victory in Van Gaal’s first Premier League outing.
Manchester United 2-0 Swansea