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Thornley exclusive: Spurs friendly huge for Man Utd opener with Chelsea

Ben Thornley insists Manchester United can gather plenty of momentum for the 2019/20 campaign with victory over Spurs on Thursday.

The cliche 'more than a friendly' is used tirelessly by commentators during preseason fixtures, but it will likely be an apt description when the two Premier League rivals meet at Hongkou Football Stadium in Shanghai.

Spurs finished in third last season and were 90 minutes away from being crowned champions of Europe before eventually losing to Liverpool.

It wasn't so rosy in the red half of Manchester as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side endured a horror-run to end the season in sixth-place.

Optimism has been gained over preseason with the inclusion of talented youngsters Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James.

Marcus Rashford has also penned a long-term extension, with David De Gea reportedly on the verge of following the England international.

Following the meeting with Spurs, United will play Kristiansund and AC Milan before meeting with Chelsea in the Premier League opener on August 11.

A graduate of the famed Class of 92' and analyst for MUTV, Thornley wants to see United take those friendlies seriously.

He told Tribalfootball.com: "I appreciate that the opposition haven't really been what we're going to face in the Premier League on a regular basis.

"But Thursday night against Spurs will be a real benchmark as to where Manchester United might be come the start of the season, because obviously Tottenham are going to be up there, they've got a very good side.

"Yes you don't win anything in preseason, but it doesn't half help you when you're coming off the back of five or six wins going into the season. It just gives you that confidence and momentum."

Wolves, Crystal Palace, Leicester City and West Ham United are United's next four opponents after the Chelsea blockbuster at Old Trafford.

And Thornley thinks a win over Frank Lampard's side will position the Red Devils for a run of wins before meeting Arsenal on September 30.

He added: "We're going to need that momentum because, having [Chelsea] at home for the first game, alright it's not ideal for either club, but you've got to play them at some stage.

"And if we can get off the mark and beat Chelsea with 37 games to go, that could be a real major boost for the lads going into a run of games, which in the form that they're in, you'd expect them come out on top of before we play our next big game against Arsenal in September."


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