Everton perspective: Brian Lewis, Royal Blue Mersey.
For the first time since we qualified for the Champions League, Evertonians are optimistic heading into a Premier League season. The unexpected departures of Tim Cahill and Jack Rodwell were tempered by the arrivals of Steven Naismith and Steven Pienaar. More players may be on the way, and the club should compete for a European place.
I expect Moyes to go with many of last year’s mainstays on Monday. Tim Howard, Leighton Baines and Tony Hibbert are all shoe-ins, although Moyes will have to make a decision in the center of the pitch between his three standout centre-backs. I would expect him to start out with Sylvian Distin and Phil Jagielka, given United’s pace up top.
Phil Neville is likely to get the start over Darron Gibson in central midfield, much to the chagrin of Everton fans. Neville’s start will indicate a more counter-attacking mindset, which might not be too effective against United.
If Steven Naismith and Nikica Jelavic can recreate their form at Rangers, Everton fans will be in for a real treat. Naismith has had a cracking pre-season and Jelavic has looked dangerous despite only bagging one goal. United’s defense looked shaky last year and the pair should have some success in attack.
The problem will be dealing with a frontline that features the likes of Rooney, Van Persie, Welbeck, and Javier Hernandez. Expect this to be a goal fest, and 3-4 goals apiece would not be a huge shock.
Predicted team (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Osman, Fellaini, Neville, Pienaar; Naismith; Jelavic.
Prediction: Everton 2-3 Man United (25.00)
Jelavic to score 2 or more at 10.00, Wayne Rooney to score first at 5.25, over 3.5 goals at 3.30.
Man United perspective: Chudi Onwuazor, The Busby Way.
United appeared to have the title in the bag last season until Everton rolled up to Old Trafford and battled back from 4-2 down to steal a point. The draw was a massive blow to United’s title hopes and a defeat at the Etihad in the following game all but confirmed the title would end up with Man City. We have a chance to right the wrongs of last term early doors, with an opening game against David Moyes’ men.
Jose Mourinho was the last manager to inflict an opening fixture defeat on United way back in 04/05, and I don't see that changing on Monday. Whilst United have been getting off to fliers in recent campaigns, Everton have been nothing short of abject, losing seven of their last nine opening matches in the Premier League.
Nothing is a given, though. Goodison Park has been a notoriously tough ground for United, with Javier Hernandez’s goal last October handing United their first win there since 2007.
However, I think on Monday United will come out on top. The addition of Shinji Kagawa, Nick Powell and most notably Robin Van Persie has strengthened Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Combine this with the return of Nemanja Vidic and David De Gea looking more comfortable between the sticks, and it spells a United win for me.
Predicted side (4-4-2): De Gea; Rafael, Carrick, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Scholes, Anderson, Nani; Rooney, Van Persie.
Prediction: Everton 1-3 Man United
Van Persie to score first at 5.25, both teams to score at 1.78, Man United HT/FT at 2.65.