Welcome to a new season of Tottenham Hotspur football everyone! As you will see, this is our new combination match preview/Writer's Prediction League post. Because why have two tabs open when you could only have one? We care about your computer's RAM like that.
Anyways, it has been an... interesting offseason for Spurs. Coming off the back of a 5th place league finish, Daniel Levy focused on remaking the Tottenham central defense and departing the driftwood from the team, rather than wholesale changes. With Mauricio Pochettino entering his second season as team manager this does make some sense, as the team aims for greater consistency and understanding with their most managerial stability since...Harry Redknapp was manager.
But the Spurs side faces a tough test in their first game, playing in the league opening match on the road against a resurgent Manchester United side. United had an intriguing offseason of their own, offloading attacking talent like Falcao, Robin van Persie, and Angel di Maria to replace them with just one young attacker (Memphis Depay) a duo of fierce defensive midfielders (Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin) and a right back (Matteo Darmian). United is back to having title ambitions, but it is to be seen if United's rebuilt attack and still-settling defense will be up to the task.
United is without David De Gea who has had his head turned by Real Madrid, and both Schweinsteiger and Marcos Rojo are out with fitness issues, but the Red Devils still have plenty of quality, and playing at home will certainly make things easier for them. The key battle may be in the midfield where a likely partnership of Michael Carrack and Schnedierlin will go against Nabil Bentaleb and... someone.
Can Spurs kick off their season earning points in one of their most difficult road matches of the season? We shall see.
Date/time: Saturday, August 8, 11:45 a.m. (UK), 7:45 a.m. (USA)
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester, UK
Official: Jonathan Moss
TV: NBCSN (USA), BT Sport 1 (UK), Sportsnet (Canada), Fox Sports 5 (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBCS Live Extra (USA), MUTV Online (subscription), audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com
It's possible Poche will spring some surprises on us, but as of today the big question that remains is in the midfield. Who gets the start alongside Nabil Bentaleb: Eric Dier or Dele Alli? The Dier at DM thing is real, and he's been decent-to-meh in the role, offering a little more cover for the back line and ostensibly freeing up Bentaleb to move forward more. On the other hand, Alli has been a revelation, and while he's not defensive, he's dynamic and assured in possession. But will Poche hand him the start in the crucible of Old Trafford? (I say yes. Go for glory, Poche!)
It's time! After another season of Ben Daniels dominance in the Cartilage Free Captain prediction league, we decided to implement a new rule: actual, real predictions. Put some thought into that prediction this year, McCauley! Otherwise, the rules remain the same: one point for correctly picking the team, two points for correctly picking the score. Let's get it on!
Michael Caley: This is probably Tottenham's best chance to win at Old Trafford. The many, many new signings may not have fully bedded in yet, and based on recent friendly lineups, LVG will be starting his worst CM and benching two elite midfielders to do it. That gives us a chance, even with a scary young squad. But until this Tottenham side shows that they have put their massive defensive struggles behind them, I'm definitely not going to bet on any away results against the top four. 2-1 United.
Bryan A.: This is the best time for us to be playing Manchester United...or at least it would be if we had bought a midfielder and hadn't just played 180 minutes of half-assed friendlies in Germany. The match is at Old Trafford, so I don't expect a win, hopefully United is disjointed enough that we steal a point. 1-1 Draw.
GN_Punk: Call me the eternal optimist. Dele Alli gets the nod in midfield with Bentaleb to make his Premier League debut and does well. Kane gets a brace at Old Trafford and we take advantage of yet another slow start by an LVG-led squad. 2-1 Spurs.
Mechanick: In my opinion, this is the best Tottenham defense in about five years. I think they do well to stop a United attack which is very much rebuilt. But count me out for buying a BentAlli or Dier-inclusion midfield can break down Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin to score goals. 1-0 United
Ed F.: [Ed declined the opportunity to make actual analysis, so instead let's pretend that he said something interesting and adorable about kittens. D'awwwww, kittens.] 1-0 United.
Skipjack: 2-0 United. Spurs might be trotting out an inexperienced, but surprisingly decent midfield. I expect it to work shockingly well, but United punish us by taking advantage of a few dumb mistakes, getting some undeserved points in true LVG fashion.
Dustin Menno: I want to be optimistic, and Spurs played decently well in the Audi Cup, but without buying a CM I just don’t see us getting a result at Old Trafford. 3-1 United, but Dele Alli scores, sending us all into raptures.
Brett Rainbow: In last year's match against United at Old Trafford, Spurs could hardly get cross get out of their own half during the first half hour, and quickly went down 3-0 in one of the worst defeats of the season. Saturday's match will tell us a lot about what Pochettino took away from that match. I see him starting Dembele in the attacking band to help deal with United's press and Dele Alli alongside Bentaleb, based on his terrific pre-season performances. It's enough for a 1-1 draw.
Ben Daniels: We might be good at some point in the season, but we're not there yet. The Dier midfield experiment has failed and we still don't have an actual holding midfielder to pair with Nabil Bentaleb. Dele Alli looks great but I don't think the two of them together will be enough to hold out against United's press, even with Dembele's help. We got steamrolled by United at Old Trafford last year, and this year's version is going to be much, much better. Schneiderlin will eat us and Depay and Rooney scare me. But at least Harry Kane will finally score on his would-be suitors. 2-1 United.
Kevin McCauley: Too bad we're catching United before Schweinsteiger and Carrick inevitably get injured at the same time. 3-1 United.
55thVin: ¡DALE! 2-2 draw
Earl of Shoop: We've added a few new faces to the roster this summer and will continue to improve under Poche, but our midfield is just too unsettled at the moment to deal with the talent United will put on the field. We'll see some brilliance from our young stars, but we won't be cohesive enough yet to pull off a win. We hold our own, grab a goal via Chadli, and avoid one of our recent trademark shellackings against the rest of the top six. 2-1 United.
Luke Zimmermann: 3-1 United. Life’s cruel pageant is particularly crueler when Morgan Schneiderlin, Matteo Darmian, and (assuming he’s fit) Bastian Schweinsteiger get to join relentless goal scoring/killing machine Memphis Depay in making their debuts at home. Man U’s managed to separate the wheat from the chaff from a personnel perspective and an outclassed Spurs side would be have to be at the top of their game to steal one at Old Trafford. Crazier things have happened, but even in a season opener, we won’t get anything too fun/chaotic.