Who: Tottenham vs Manchester United
When: Friday, June 19th @ 3:15pm ET
Line: Tottenham +190 | Draw +230| Manchester United +150
After a two-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, the Premier League resumes this week. The biggest game of the league restarts sees Manchester United finally travel to face Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur in a game with top-four implications riding on it.
A LOT OF THINGS have changed since the last time these two sides played a game. United were on an 11-match unbeaten streak before this tie & favourites to win it. Spurs were stuttering without key players. But now all that is irrelevant.
The positive thing for the Red Devils is that Paul Pogba & Marcus Rashford are both fit and ready to add more power to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s attack. But Jose Mourinho has Harry Kane & Heung Min-Son back as well. With both sides still vying for a place in the Champions League next season, nobody will be satisfied with anything but a win from this.
The pre-COVID-19 line on this had Manchester United as heavier favorites (+120, with Spurs at +230). Getting Kane and Son back certainly improves Spurs’ chances.
Tottenham Hotspur Predicted XI
Lloris, Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Tanganga, Davies, Sissoko, Winks, Bergwijn, Son, Kane.
Spurs are all set to welcome as many as five players back with the two-month suspension turning out a blessing in disguise for them. Dele Alli is suspended, while Giovanni Lo Celso is unlikely to start as he’s carrying a niggle.
Manchester United Predicted XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Matic, McTominay, Fernandes, James, Rashford, Martial
United are all set to welcome back their season’s top-scorer Rashford and the controversial Pogba. The Frenchman is said to unlikely to start as he lacks match fitness, but Rashford should be good to go. Phil Jones is the only player carrying a slight niggle for OGS’ side.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United preview
This could be a scrappy game being these sides’ first game in months. Considering that both lost their friendly games last week, it doesn’t seem either are fully prepared for playing in these new conditions.
If one is to take the Bundesliga as an example, away teams have enjoyed a lot of joy in the league. Only Bayern Munich & Borussia Dortmund have been able to maintain their dominance at home due to their superiority in quality.
As a result, Solskjaer will definitely fancy his side’s chances in this one. United might have a very wonky away form this season, but that mostly stems from inexperience and bulking under pressure. Fans cost that. Now that there’s no supporter to help Spurs, the Red Devils will be high in confidence.
United also know how to play behind-closed-doors having done so in their final game before the season was suspended during the 5-0 romping off LASK Linz in the UEFA Europa League. With players being more vocal with each other & no loud chants blocking out communication, the Red Devils are more assured of what to do in order to win games.
Rashford’s return is surely going to be a huge boost. The Englishman was enjoying is best season having scored 19 goals in all competitions before the unfortunate injury in January, but now has his hunger back to reach that 30-goal mark for the season. Anthony Martial was in sublime form before the break and loves playing with Rashford, which means he should spark up United’s attack as well.
Bruno Fernandes should continue bossing the midfield as usual. He might not get to link-up with Pogba on Friday itself, but his demanding nature & technical ability means he should spark up chances for the Rashford-Martial duo. Dan James should be spurring with pace after the break as well.
Nemanja Matic was in solid form before the break & should play from the get-go to add a layer of protection for the backline. Mourinho’s favourite Scott McTominay should also feature after his late heroics in the Manchester Derby. But this will be a real test of character for United’s defence.
Going into the break, the Red Devils had kept 9 clean sheets during their 11-game unbeaten streak. But not having played together for over two months has disorientated the link created by the back-four. Captain Harry Maguire has a big job recreating the unbreakable defensive wall. Victor Lindelof also must rise to the task & aid him with his assertive style.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s defensive brilliance means he should be back to business quickly. But Luke Shaw has a point to prove that he didn’t slack off during this period. United’s backline must be proactive because Spurs now have their biggest guns back to blow them apart.
Despite missing action, Kane is still a devastating striker capable of changing games on his own. Son was in hot form for Mourinho’s side before his injury in February. Both the attackers are quick, clinical & skilfull enough to win games on their own. Then there’s Steven Bergwijn’s unpredictability in the final third adding more creativity.
But what can really annoy OGS’ side is Mourinho’s tactics. He knows how to park the bus & frustrate teams. Considering how the Red Devils struggle to break down deep defensive lines, Jose will probably push eights players into defence & try to score on the counter-attack. United will have to dig deep & pull off something special, because getting back to playing ways with a loss can derail the entire final stretch of their season.
This game could be a grind. It should have its special moments as well. Considering how well United play after long breaks, I see them pulling off a 2-1 win to maintain the unbeaten streak.