It’s official! Cristiano Ronaldo goes straight into the starting line-up. He’s likely to lead the line with Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho in behind. Jesse Lingard, incidentally, is on the bench. Here’s how both teams line up:
Man Utd (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; Pogba, Matic; Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Sancho; Ronaldo. Subs: Lindelöf, Bailly, Mata, Martial, Lingard, Fred, Dalot, Heaton, Van de Beek.
In the Women’s Super League, Aston Villa have earned a useful point at West Ham thanks to Remi Allen’s late leveller. Allen headed home Ramona Petzelberger’s cross in stoppage time to cancel out Adriana Leon’s eighth-minute opener for the hosts.
Some important pre-match reading here, from Max Rushden.
It’s all kicking off at Selhurst Park, where Japhet Tanganga has been sent off for Tottenham. It’s still 0-0 there, but Spurs’ run of wins and clean sheets is under threat. Join Scott Murray for the latest:
Will Ronaldo’s second stint at Manchester United lead to goals, trophies, adulation and a statue outside the ground? Or will he creak around like a petulant Tin Man, while arguing about penalties a lot?
It’s probably somewhere in the middle, but this is The Discourse. There is no middle ground. Vote now!
Mary Waltz asks the age-old question: “Ronaldo or Messi? I have always been on team Messi but I have never seen the need to rip into CR7 to justify my choice. The cold war tactics became tedious.”
Tedious is the word, Mary. Both are exceptional players, and I have a hard time believing fans of either genuinely believe the other player is not actually that good. We’ll have no talk of Penaldo or Pessi here today.
I am also Team Messi – I just think he’s better, that’s all – but if I had to pick one of them to score in the last minute for my team, I would probably choose Ronaldo.
Premier League: 3pm (BST) kick-offs
Arsenal v Norwich
The two teams at the foot of the table meet on what could be a fractious afternoon at the Emirates. Mikel Arteta can at least call on Thomas Partey again in midfield. Norwich are winless in their last 23 top-flight trips to London.
Brentford v Brighton
Both these teams begin today in the top half and the winner will become the league’s designated dark horse. The two clubs have met in four different divisions and three Cup competitions, but never in the top flight.
Leicester v Manchester City
Pep Guardiola will be glad to have Ederson available against opponents that have caused him plenty of problems. The visitors have lost their last four games away from the Etihad, if you include the Champions League final and the Foxes’ Community Shield win.
Manchester United v Newcastle
Newcastle have won once at Old Trafford since 1972 and there isn’t much hope of that statistic changing today. The under-fire Steve Bruce must have met news of Ronaldo’s return with the weariest of sighs.
Southampton v West Ham
New signings Kurt Zouma, Alex Kral and Nikola Vlasic are all in contention to feature for West Ham in a game that will surely feature plenty of high-tempo pressing and muscular set-piece battles.
Watford v Wolves
Wolves have lost their first three games 1-0 under Bruno Lage, and a slow start would become something more serious if it happens again today. Watford made 13 summer signings; some will probably feature here.
Here are the thoughts of Ole Gunnar Solskjær on his eye-catching summer signing:
“We are still a work in progress. Cristiano coming, of course, that gives us another edge. He comes with his winning mentality – him and Raphaël [Varane] have won the Champions League, European Championships, World Cups. We are adding some experience and quality that we didn’t have.”
He left Old Trafford in search of greater recognition, and found a new stage on which to excel. It looked like he would never return – but he had unfinished business. Now, after banging in goals elsewhere and shining on the international stage, he’s ready to lead Manchester United to glory again.
Sadly for Jesse Lingard, he’s unlikely to get on the pitch against Newcastle today. Already on the fringes, he’ll have a watching brief with Cristiano Ronaldo set to start up front. He used to play for United a while back, and has done pretty well in the years since he left.
Yes, CR7’s strutting shadow looms large over the Premier League once again. There will, inevitably, be more on him this afternoon. But there are five other top-flight fixtures to take in, and plenty more besides in the Football League, Scotland and in Europe.
Can Leicester inflict another early defeat on the defending champions? Who will win the battle of projects between Brentford and Brighton? What on earth will happen next in Arsenal v Norwich? And are you still thinking about Ronaldo? Either way, stay tuned.