Sir Alex Ferguson will wait until the last minute before deciding whether new striker Robin van Persie is fit enough to make his debut in Manchester United’s Premier League opener at Everton tonight.
“He hasn’t played much,” said the Scot. “We are going to assess him the next couple of days and chat with him, see how he feels himself. Adrenalin will help, if I choose to start him, but I think it’s important he had a training session on Friday morning and hopefully the weekend will give me a good idea on whether he should start or I should put him on the bench.”
Everton manager David Moyes is determined his players make a winning start to the campaign after losing their previous four opening day games.
“We will be ready for Manchester United. We want to get the season off on the right note,” said Moyes.
Hazard sets up Chelsea win
Meanwhile, Eden Hazard enjoyed a dream debut for Chelsea as the Belgium forward helped his new side kick off their league campaign with a 2-0 win against Wigan yesterday.
Hazard, who arrived from Lille in June with a hefty £32 million price tag, took less than two minutes to underline his vast potential as he laid on Chelsea’s opening goal with a clever turn and defence-splitting pass to Ivanovic, who rumbled into the penalty area before slotting a low shot past Ali Al Habsi.
Just four minutes later, Hazard tricked his way into space in the penalty area and provoked a despairing challenge from Wigan debutant Ivan Ramis, who conceded a penalty which Frank Lampard drilled under Al Habsi to seal Chelsea’s win.
‘Tough times ahead for Liverpool’
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted they could face some tough times this season after his first Premier League match as Reds manager ended with a woeful 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion.
“It’s the first game, it’s a marathon,” said Rodgers. “Days like this hurt – and there will be other days like this. I have heard lots about patience but we have got to win games.”
Arsenal miss van Persie in Sunderland stalemate
Meanwhile, Arsenal started life after van Persie with a dispiriting 0-0 draw against Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium.
Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud all made their debuts but none of the new attacking trio could get on the scoresheet as Arsene Wenger’s team failed to lift the gloom following van Persie’s exit.
In other matches, Newcastle beat Tottenham 2-1, while Fulham and Swansea both registered massive 5-0 wins against Norwich and QPR respectively. Stoke City were held by Reading 1-1 and West Ham United got off to a winning start with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2012.