Who: Manchester United vs Tottenham
When: Sunday, October 4th @ 11:30am ET
Line: Man U-105 | Draw +260 | Spurs +285
Manchester United finally managed to pick up their first win of the Premier League season last week, but it was thanks to some help from lady luck. They weren’t anywhere near as good and got outplayed by an inspired Brighton side, only to steal three points at the very end. But luck can only get you so far.
If United go into the game against Tottenham Hotspur with a similar careless attitude, they’d be in for a rude awakening. Jose Mourinho is desperate to get a big win over his former employers and pile on their miseries. With their first ‘big’ obstacle of the season ahead, Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s side must light up the fire in their bellies and take the fight right to Spurs at Old Trafford.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Matic, Pogba, Bruno, Greenwood, Rashford, Martial
Only Axel Tuanzebe & Phil Jones remain unavailable for United. While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer loves playing the 3-5-2 formation in the ‘big games’, it’s unlikely he’ll go for it against an already defensive-minded team like Spurs.
Tottenham Hotspur Likely XI
Lloris, Doherty, Sanchez, Dier, Alderweireld, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Winks, Ndombele, Kane, Bergwijn
Spurs were dealt a heavy blow as Heung-Min Son suffered an injury against Newcastle United which could force him to miss the game at Old Trafford. New-boy Sergio Reguilon should start against the side who reportedly wanted to sign him. Star signing Gareth Bale still awaits his anticipated return as he’s still injured.
Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur preview
Despite the fortunate win at Brighton, it was rather evident that United have suffered from the lack of a proper pre-season campaign this year. The players are extremely out of synch, lacking the chemistry or togetherness which allowed them to notch up a top-3 finish last time around.
What is more worrying is some of last season’s best players have started this one poorly. Solskjaer has insisted that his side needs some games to get back to full fitness, but he’ll hope his side rediscover their swagger on Sunday. What United really need to bring against Tottenham is aggressive and that hunger to win.
Over the last two games, the Red Devils have almost invited opponents to cause them problems and been too callous in their defensive approach. They need to be more dominating, piling in tackles and being fearless with taking the fight right to the opponents. If they play it safe again, Harry Kane & co will make them pay.
The Red Devils also need to up the ante with their attacking display, which has been sub-par recently. They’ve been lacklustre in creating opportunities and wasted the good ones. Solskjaer will demand his players to be more creative, assertive going forward and make the counter-attacks count.
But unfortunately for United, they’ll rarely get chances to hit Spurs on the counter due to their defensive approach. As a result, the likes of Bruno Fernandes & Paul Pogba need to make the most in unlocking their rigid backline. Pogba has been especially poor in recent games, but the added incentive of playing against the manager who tried ending his United career can reinvigorate him to put in a special performance.
Fernandes still looks bit far from his best, but his tendency to come up with something special even in poor performances should help him torment Spurs. Anthony Martial has been ineffective in recent games and needs to show more hunger to carve chances for himself, while Marcus Rashford looks to maintain his steady improvement by troubling the defenders with his pace and unpredictability.
The fact is with the kind of attacking personal at hand, United will create enough goal-scoring chances. The bigger problem right now is their shaky, unreliable backline. The back-four looks completely out of synch & extremely error-prone, something Spurs will look to capitalize at. While Nemanja Matic does provide some extra protection and steel, the defenders need to toughen themselves up.
Luke Shaw & Aaron Wan-Bissaka not only need to be more effective going forward, but also at the back. They can’t allow Spurs to put in crosses or move freely through the wings as they did against Brighton. Harry Maguire & Victor Lindelof both need to maintain utmost concentration to handle the pressure and be more assertive when defending in 1v1 scenarios.
Even without Son or Bale, Spurs still boast a strong attack. Kane has been transformed into a more ‘complete striker’, having developed that creative gene that allows him to find menacing passes for teammates. Steven Bergwijn left United defenders scrambling last time they met and his pace & direct approach will be troublesome. Spurs’ wing-backs Matt Doherty and Sergio Reguilon also love booming into the box to create trouble, while Tanguy N’dombele can run the show with ease unless bottled down.
United can’t afford to concede an early goal or allow Spurs to take the lead. Do so & Jose’s side happily parks the bus and block them out. The Red Devils must be cautious at the back but play a free-flowing, attractive style to break down the visitors & win their first game at Old Trafford.
While this game almost screams for a 1-1 draw, I think United will dig deep and grind out a 2-1 win – mostly because of the players’ obsession in getting one over their former manager.