It’s something a lot of us Premier League football fans are relatively new to, but Sky Sports (as they did last season) have reintroduced Friday Night Football into the schedule for top flight clubs. And as last season, Manchester United are the first side to showcase the new feature, however, this year has far fewer hitches than last. So as we approach the Southampton match tomorrow I’m taking a look back at the games from the last couple of seasons that took place on a Friday night, starting at Villa Park this time 12 months ago.
Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester United – Friday 14th August 2015
To most, it was a novel idea. Premier League football after work was done for the week was the perfect kick-start to the weekend. Of course, it meant that United was done early and there was nothing to look forward to, but in this meeting Adnan Januzaj ensured the weekend was a happy one for United fans. The game wasn’t without its problems. An EDL march through Birmingham city centre was an organisational nightmare and threatened to cause major disruptions to traveling supporters. The game went ahead without much drama, and that was a theme that remained throughout as Louis van Gaal’s men eased to a narrow victory against a toothless Villa side. Januzaj scored his first goal since April 2014 against Newcastle in the 28th minute, Memphis could have doubled the advantage late on but skewed his gilt-edged chance and Daley Blind and Chris Smalling showed their partnership could prove rather fruitful. It hadn’t been pretty, but all in all, it was a successful night all round.
Derby County 1-3 Manchester United – Friday 29th January 2016
Although not strictly Premier League, the last two entries are both from the Emirates FA Cup due to the fact that quite simply it is slim pickings for Friday games. On the road to eventually lifting the trophy, Louis van Gaal and his Manchester United side faced a potentially tricky away trip to Derby on a Friday evening in the fourth round of the competition. It was during a rather tumultuous patch for the Dutchman who was understandably clutching onto any win his side could muster. Although a possibly banana skin, the Red Devils negotiated this test with relative ease barring a short period where they didn’t make anything better for themselves. Wayne Rooney had given United the lead with a superb finish on 16 minutes before George Thorne of Derby bought parity back to proceedings. It took second half efforts from Daley Blind and Juan Mata to sew things up for the eventual Champions in a game they dominated and Anthony Martial showed more of his qualities with a wonderful performance.
Cambridge United 0-0 Manchester United – Friday 23rd January 2015
Again we visit the FA Cup, but this time, we don’t go gleefully. Along with the thrashing at the hands of MK Dons in the League Cup, this is possibly one of the worst memories of Louis van Gaal’s first season in charge at Old Trafford. Although United eventually negotiated the tie back in Manchester, the initial meeting of the two sides was one easily forgotten for most. When the phrase ‘0-0 bore draw’ comes to mind, this is the match I automatically think of. But this should not be the case. Manchester United lined up with Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria and Adnan Januzaj and even introduced Robin van Persie in the latter stages as they looked to turn a complete embarrassment into bearable shame. But it was not to be. Cambridge was resilient to everything thrown at them and simply refused to concede, the result may well have been more down to their solidarity than United’s inability, but then I am an optimist.