sharpness could be key in this first fixture, so there's no point fielding anybody who's not quite match-fit. I expect van Persie to come on as a late substitute if United are in the driving seat. United: De Gea; Rafael, Carrick, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Kagawa, Cleverley, Nani; Rooney, Hernandez.
Paul Davies: To play the new boys or to not play the new boys – that is the big question for Sir Alex. The defence picks itself due to injury, Cleverley and Paul Scholes will combine energy with experience but it's up front that the boss has to start dealing with the (wonderful) headache van Persie's arrival has created. I suspect he'll go for star of pre-season, Kagawa, over the Dutchman – although the latter will undoubtedly step off a strong bench. United: De Gea; Rafael, Carrick, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Cleverley, Scholes, Nani; Rooney, Kagawa.
Steve Bartram: Rio’s rumoured injury has thrown a spanner in the works, so the question is whether or not Jonny Evans is fit enough to start tonight. If not, then Carrick will have to drop to central defence, giving Cleverley the chance to partner Scholes in a midfield two. I’d then expect Kagawa to play off Rooney. If, however, Evans starts then Carrick will shunt up with Scholes, Cleverley will push forward, leaving a choice between Kagawa and Nani for the wide-left berth. I expect the selection to be driven by fitness, and the vast majority of this starting XI have had plenty of pre-season minutes with United or at the Olympics. United: De Gea; Rafael, Vidic, Carrick, Evra; Cleverley, Scholes; Valencia, Kagawa, Nani; Rooney.