Who: Manchester United vs Tottenham
When: Wednesday, December 4th @ 2:30pm ET
Line: Manchester United +170 | Draw +245 | Tottenham +155
Manchester United endured a very frustrating start a crucial December period by being held by Aston Villa at home on Sunday. The same side who came into the match with an abysmal away record (5 losses in 6 games) outplayed them at their own yard.
Unfortunately, things will only get tougher. Jose Mourinho returns to his former home on Wednesday night. He’ll be hunting for sweet revenge after being sacked last December. Tottenham Hotspur are bursting with confidence under him and will be out for blood like hounds against the Red Devils.
United have been pretty solid at home, but need to improve their performance-levels to silence their in-form opponents. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs an emphatic win to keep the Mauricio Pochettino rumours at bay, while also to prove his worth against his predecessor. This should be a mid-week bout packed with drama.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, James, Lingard, Rashford, Martial
OGS stated on Sunday that he hopes Scott McTominay or Paul Pogba are available for Spurs. It’s obvious he desperately needs them to fill his hollow midfield. Luke Shaw should get his first league start in nearly three months, so should the rejuvenated Jesse Lingard. Eric Bailly, Nemanja Matic & Diogo Dalot are training, but unavailable for selection.
Tottenham Hotspur Likely XI
Gazzaniga, Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Dier, Sissoko, Moura, Alli, Son, Kane.
Spurs are still without Hugo Lloris, whose recovering from a dislocated elbow. Erik Lamela & Ben Davies are probably missing the game, which means Mourinho won’t make that many changes in his visit to Old Trafford.
Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur Match Preview
The momentum just seems to have been wiped out for United after the international break. Going into the break, they had won 5 out of their last 6 games in all competitions. Fast-forward a few weeks and now they’re winless in three. The high-scoring draws pin-point the fact that defensively they’re not that strong either.
The biggest worry, however, is how easily penetrable the midfield line is. Fred & Andreas Pereira’s vulnerabilities have allowed oppositions to run riot in United’s midfield. Solskjaer’s blind faith on underperforming players is becoming a concern now. Granted, all the injuries don’t help his case, but the Norwegian’s been disappointing with his tactical approach recently.
However, he has the chance to redeem himself in the games ahead. Fortunately, he has a pretty solid record against the Premier League top-six, having only lost two games & won five in eleven meetings since taking over. Somehow, his tactics against the very best always seem to click.
But coming up against a cunning tactician in Mourinho, OGS’ managerial ability faces its biggest challenge. He must structure his side to retain a compact shape & not fall into Spurs webs. Most importantly, he must tighten up his midfield line, making sure that Fred & McTominay don’t let Spurs’ robust midfielders to bomb forward in numbers.
Ole will look to capitalize on Spurs own defensive vulnerabilities, urging his side to move forward with pace & link-up better with incisive, quick passes. He must take the captain’s armband away from Harry Maguire, who’s clearly struggling under its pressure. If Maguire plays without tensions, he’ll hold down a strong defensive line to keep the visitors restrained.
Fortunately, Anthony Martial will play with rejuvenated hunger knowing his past differences with Mourinho. Marcus Rashford’s looking an absolute menace with his spirited performances, while Daniel James’ expert work in big games means that this trio must bring their A-game to break Spurs momentum.
However, it’ll take a mammoth task to get one over this booming Spurs side. Mourinho’s opened up the cobwebs set up during Pochettino’s last few months as manager. He now has them attacking ruthlessly like last season. Dele Alli, in particular, has been rejuvenated after his appointment.
The England International’s playing like a man possessed under him. He’s moving much freely, getting into all the right positions and has scored 3 goals in as many games under him. Dele’s formed a special bond with Heung-Min Son, who’s currently playing like the Asian Cristiano Ronaldo. Harry Kane’s ruthlessness has been tuned up in recent weeks, as he rarely needs many chances to score.
Mourinho should take a defensive stance knowing United’s potent on counter-attacks, playing Eric Dier & Moussa Sissoko deeper to aid his defenders. But considering that Spurs have conceded 6 under him, he won’t be parking the bus. After what the Red Devils did to him, he’ll want a dominant win.
The Portuguese should set up his attacking front-four to look opportunities for swift-breaks and penetrate through the middle knowing United’s lack of proper defensive midfielders. The game itself could break into a series of counter-attacks and should be a high-octane, end-to-end battle. Whoever defends stronger & capitalizes on their opposition’s mistakes better will come out on top.
Spurs should dominate this game and are understandably favourites knowing both sides’ recent form. But seeing how good United have been against top-six oppositions as well as their record at home, I think this will be an entertaining 2-2 draw.