Which is United's stand-out fixture before 2020?
Manchester United are set to embark on an incredible run of fixtures between now and the end of 2019, with 11 matches across all competitions coming up. But which is the most anticipated?
Here, our team of intrepid and opinionated reporters dissect the fixtures that are catching their eyes over the next six weeks, highlighting why there is plenty to look forward to as Reds supporters…
IAN MCLEISH: TOTTENHAM (H)
“Need me to explain why? Really? It was already a huge fixture in the context of our season– given added crackle by the late kick-off under the Old Trafford floodlights – but the addition of a certain 56-year-old from Setubal in the away dug-out will send the hype into overdrive and turbo-charge an already supersized fixture. The atmosphere will be incredible and I truly believe the Reds, on and off the pitch, will be inspired by the occasion. We’re set for a cracker and I can’t wait.”
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“Mourinho’s Spurs coming to Old Trafford is a huge occasion, I agree, but let’s have it right: City away remains the most eagerly anticipated and important fixture before the new year. It’s the one you circle before the season, along with Liverpool, of course, and this time it is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first derby as boss at the Etihad Stadium. We lost twice last campaign and that needs rectifying, hopefully in the best possible way – by beating them in front of their own fans.“
STEWART GARDNER: SHEFFIELD UNITED (A)
“I’ll admit a personal interest here - Sheffield United is not at all far from my house and the drive over the Snake Pass is one of the most scenic in the country. It’s also been too long since United last went to Bramall Lane, an earthy, atmospheric stadium, which will be absolutely rocking on Sunday as Blades fans revel in their remarkable start to the campaign. It has always been difficult for United at Bramall Lane, since our very first Premier League game was a defeat there in 1992. Our last visit was 13 years ago and, despite a superstar line-up that featured Scholes, Giggs, Ronaldo and more, we required a late winner from Rooney to earn maximum points. Expect another major test this time.”
“Personally, I’m most looking forward to Astana because it is likely to be the only time I will ever go to Kazakhstan and, by all accounts, it’s a great place to visit. Even the incredibly cold temperatures are not putting me off! In terms of United, there is a landmark game that has also caught my eye: Everton at Old Trafford on 15 December, which is set to be the 4,000th consecutive match that a United squad has included a homegrown player. Naturally, I’ll be hoping some of the Academy lads mark the occasion in the right way, with some goals against the Merseysiders.”
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JOE GANLEY: COLCHESTER (H)
“The Essex side might be the most lowly ranked team we face in December but, nevertheless, it’s a quarter-final. We’re at home, and a win would put us tantalisingly close to Solskjaer’s first shot at silverware. As we’ve seen in the past – notably in 2006, when we beat Wigan Athletic to lift this trophy – the effect that claiming any silverware can have on a developing team, especially a young one, cannot be underestimated. Europa League qualification is assured and our FA Cup campaign is yet to start. Right now, this competition represents a big momentum-building opportunity for Ole’s Reds.”
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