All eyes will be attentively watching Manchester United against Kitchee FC in Hong Kong for their final stop of the preseason tour. Three weeks of intense training, sight seeing and team bonding culminate against Kitchee FC on Monday (July 29th) at Hong Kong Stadium. With a capacity of 40,000 those in attendance will surely hope the reds can tally in bunches in preparation for their first match in just under two weeks.
As the FA Community Shield lurks on the horizon on August 11th, David Moyes will be hard pressed to see cohesion in his squad in order to secure his first silverware with United – against the relegated side, Wigan Athletic.
United have toured through Asia and Australia – and now last stop is Hong Kong. A few notable absences against Kitchee FC will be Shinji Kagawa who did rejoin the club in Japan; however, was given permission by Moyes to have a bit longer rest in his legs. Moyes stated “We’ve given Shinji more holiday because his football with Japan in the summer. We try and give all players four weeks, if possible, and Shinji hasn’t quite had that time. So we’ll give him another week’s rest. I think Shinji’s going to do some training with the club, so he can have more time at home in Japan. He’ll do some training here.” After a solid performance in Japan and a goal to his name, he surely has proven himself to the Scot that he deserves a regular place in the first team.
For Michael Carrick, a tight groin may sideline the Englishman especially with the given pitch conditions. Moyes may be extremely cautious with his starting XI due to United having to already cancel an open training session. Along with Carrick’s probable absence in the midfield, Jonny Evans may also not feature as it’s been determined that he has a bit of a bone bruise on his foot. With Evans lacking in defense, this may be the prime opportunity for Michael Keane to shine in the center-back duties.
Former United player Wes Brown also spoke about the horrific pitch conditions stating “If it keeps raining it just gets worse and it was like playing on a beach.” The lad went on to speak that “You think about the pitch under your feet, and little sharp turns are hard to do. If you take a wrong turn you could twist or do something.” Thus, playing the likes of Danny Welbeck, Robin van Persie and more would be an extreme risk to injury with the Premier League season just around the corner.
Along with Carrick and Evans, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand also went the majority of their previous match. Rio played the full 90 minutes in Osaka while Giggsy was on the park for around 79 minutes. With the possibility of being rested, United will likely once again rely on the young-guns in the squad. Jesse Lingard, Wilfried Zaha and Adnan Januzaj will have only final case to prove to Moyes why each belong in the first team.
Zaha with both his pace and tenacity amongst the wings, has made an immediate impact and has likely secured his spot in the first team; however, whether or not he features regularly above the likes of Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia remains to be seen. As for Januzaj and Lingard whom both have the desire to make a move into United’s first team, space is limited.
If the preseason’s been any indication of the Premier League season ahead, Manchester United have plenty to look forward to. As the squad reconvenes at Carrington shortly, Moyes’ boys will be primed and ready to defend their 20th Premier League crown.