Manchester United August Preview: The Champions Begin Their Title-Defence

The champions return home - Alex Livesey

Some actual meaningful football will begin in August while Manchester United will hopefully actually settle some of their transfer sagas.

July is about to pass, as has Manchester United's recent three-week pre-season tour through Asia and Australia, and August will soon arrive. This means we'll be gradually moving towards meaningful football as the month progresses and hopefully some midfield reinforcements will arrive prior to the summer transfer window closing at month's end. Here's a preview of what's to come:

AUGUST 6 | Friendly | (a) AIK Fotball | 6:30pm BST, 7:30pm local (Stockholm), 1:30pm EST: United conclude their 2013 pre-season tour with a trip to Sweden to take on AIK Fotball at the recently built Friends Arena. Wayne Rooney, who may or may not be exiting Old Trafford by month's end, is expected to be available for this friendly as are captain Nemanja Vidic, Nani, and Antonio Valencia. With the exception of Rooney, who departed the Asian/Australian tour on it's first day after a supposed hamstring injury, none of these players have been traveling with the squad thus far on tour.

AUGUST 9 | Testimonial | Sevilla | 7:30pm BST, 2:30pm EST: Rio Ferdinand will be honored for his now 11+ seasons and 430 appearances at Manchester United with a testimonial at Old Trafford. During his time at the club, the defender has won the European Cup once, the Premier League six times, the League Cup twice, and the FIFA Club World Cup once. The testimonial can be viewed live for free if you pre-register at riotestimonial.com.

AUGUST 11 | Community Shield | Wigan Athletic | 2:00pm BST, 9:00am EST: Just two days after Rio's testimonial, the champions will be in London to face FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic at Wembley. Roberto Martinez has taken David Moyes' old job at Everton so the Latics -- now a Championship side -- will be led by former Bolton manager Owen Coyle. Depending on how you feel about the Community Shield, this may or may not be Moyes' first chance of his United reign at winning silverware.

AUGUST 17 | Premier League | (a) Swansea City | 5:30pm BST, 12:30pm EST: United begin their title-defense with a challenging trip to Wales to take on Swansea City. The only certain first-choice players at the moment appear to be Robin van Persie, Michael Carrick, Rafael, Patrice Evra, and David de Gea. Which other players will be selected for the season opener?

AUGUST 26 | Premier League | Chelsea | 8:00pm BST, 3:00pm EST: A massive early season clash awaits the Reds at Old Trafford on this Monday night when they take on likely title-contending rivals Chelsea. This will be a huge test for Moyes as a defeat by Jose Mourinho's side will likely lead to an overreaction and questioning of Moyes' credentials as Sir Alex Ferguson's successor. A victory, though, would set the tone for the season and it would also be a statement that the champions are still the favorites to lift the Premier League trophy at season's end.

TRANSFERS

I was quite certain that we would have concluded some transfer business in July. Quite obviously, that didn't happen. Perhaps some business will get done this month, or maybe it won't. Either way, we have all your transfer needs covered as we'll be tracking the speculation and providing analysis on it all until the transfer window closes. Be sure to continually check these live updated storystreams as the month progresses on these transfer sagas:

* Hub: Manchester United Transfer Rumours & News

* Wayne Rooney storystream: Is he off to Chelsea (or elsewhere)?

* Cesc Fabregas storystream: Is a third bid from United coming?

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