A new English Premier League season got underway Saturday with a matchup of two title contenders. America’s seemingly favorite soccer club, Manchester United, squared off with Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford to start the weekend.
With some new faces, United is looking to once again compete for the title after two consecutive lackluster seasons. Over the summer, United brought in Memphis Depay ($34 million from PSV), Bastian Schweinsteiger ($15.79 million from Bayern Munich), Morgan Schneiderlin ($27.42 million from Southampton), and Matteo Darmian ($13.93 million from Torino). But, they lost the talented Argentinian Angel Di Maria to Paris Saint Germain.
Totenham, although with less fanfare, also fielded some new players for the London club.
The game was unexciting at best, and not just due to the 7:45 a.m. kickoff time here on the East coast. Both clubs had a difficult time penetrating the opposition’s back line.
But there was one clear chance in the first half and Man U didn’t miss their opportunity. Spurs midfielder Nabil Bentaleb gave the ball away cheaply in his own half of the field, setting up an Ashley Young run and cross down the right flank. Young found the feet of Wayne Rooney, who seemed to have an open shot, but took too much time over the ball and defender Kyle Walker closed him down. Unfortunately for Walker, as he was trying to clear the ball, he scored in his own goal.
The rest of the match was as interesting as an offseason friendly. Both teams were unable to do much other than create a few half chances. 1-0 to Man U was how the match would end.
Spurs will need another miracle season from Harry Kane to have any chance of cracking the top four to win a Champions League spot. Young Kane was ruthless last year in front of goal with 31 goals, but that was only good enough to lead Spurs to a fifth place finish.
United need desperately to finish in the top four this season. Missing the Champions League and finishing below crosstown rivals Manchester City is unacceptable to their fanbase and ownership. Also, big money comes in when you make the Champions League, making it easier to sign world-class talent.
Spurs and United are hoping game one will not be a reflection on the rest of the season, and we are too.