Manchester United took a big step forward into securing their UEFA Champions League qualification with the win over Brighton, but up next are a Tottenham Hotspur side desperately looking to stay alive in the Premier League top-4 race themselves.
However, this isn’t just any ordinary game. After being embarrassed with a 1-6 defeat earlier this season from Spurs, the Red Devils will be out for cold revenge. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are still unbeaten in away games for over 14 months of league football, as they look to maintain that record and put a permanent dent on Spurs UCL dreams with a decisive win.
Tottenham Hotspur Likely XI
Lloris, Aurier, Dier, Alderweireld, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Ndombele, Sissoko, Bale, Son, Kane
Tottenham have a couple of injury worries with Ben Davies & Matt Doherty likely to miss the game.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Pogba, Bruno, Rashford, Greenwood, Cavani
Eric Bailly is out after being infected with Covid-19 but Marcus Rashford should recover for this one.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United Preview
The last time these two teams met, whatever could possibly go wrong went wrong for Manchester United – resulting in their worst defeat in nearly a decade. However, from looking down & out inthat period, the Red Devils have defied expectations (of mine included) to soar past the majority of the sides into the second spot.
Solskjaer has also learnt a lot of things about his side in that defeat & needs to ensure the same mistakes don’t happen this time around. Fortunately, they face a Spurs side struggling to win games and leaking goals for free – so they should get an ample number of chances to win this one.
The Red Devils’ attack has lacked ruthlessness in recent games & definitely need to step up to humble Spurs. Bruno Fernandes last scored in the Manchester Derby and is falling behind in the Golden Boot race. If he wants to get an edge over rival Harry Kane – who is guaranteed to cause troubles – Bruno must be more clinical with his finishing from the chances he gets & also continue to be United’s creative spark in the attack.
Rashford’s suffering from fitness issues but his passion to play should help him return. Having scored against Brighton, the speedy winger is full of confidence, looking to torment Spurs’ defence with his mazy runs & clinical work upfront. With 2 goals in consecutive games, Mason Greenwood looks to be back to his best – but he needs to be appointed to stay as central as possible to get more devastating shots on goal.
Edinson Cavani’s movement & intelligent instincts in the box can be a terror for Spurs’ defenders to deal with – yet the Uruguayan must be at his clinical best to end his goal-drought. The Red Devils should get many prominent counter-attacking chances or chances from open play in general – so the forwards must put their best finishing ability on display.
Paul Pogba also has his swagger back & looks to rule the roost in midfield. With his sublime passing ability, tendency to open up space & find teammates in dangerous areas, he needs to be at his creative best as well as work hard defensively to help United control possession. Scott McTominay should start ahead of Fred to be the breaker in midfield, stealing away possession & kick-starting counter-attacks.
While United’s attack-line was disappointing in the 1-6 defeat to Spurs, it was their horrible backline that caused most of the goals. Tottenham might be going through a rough patch, but still possess enough firepower to embarrass them again. Kane is the best striker in the league – who needs no second chances to score goals & can set them up with clever passes too.
Not just that, but Heung-Min Son is another terror to deal with because of his unpredictable movement in the front-line & terrific finishing ability. Gareth Bale can still be a real firecracker in attack because of his impressive shooting ability & accuracy from prime areas. Tanguy Ndombele’s another who can run the show in midfield if allowed to and create chances with ease.
The Red Devils’ backline must turn up big time to keep this Spurs’ attack quiet. Harry Maguire is riding on a strong run of form & must maintain that by being a rock in the back, sniffing out attacks & making key challenges to neutralize their threat.
Victor Lindelof also must help maintain a strong defensive line with his clutch clearances & impressive game-reading ability, while both Luke Shaw & Aaron Wan-Bissaka need to be their sharpest defensively to stop Jose Mourinho’s side from creating all the chances down the wings. David de Gea should return and with Dean Henderson now strongly challenging to unsettle his position, the Spaniard must put in a Superman-esque effort to earn Solskjaer’s trust again.
While Spurs will probably park the bus & look to counter-attack in this one, it should still be a thrilling battle in which must be at their ruthless best going forward to earn payback for that embarrassing defeat at Old Trafford.
This should be an entertaining bout, but because of Mourinho’s pre-historic cagey tactics & United’s inability to finish their chances properly – I think both teams end up cancelling each other out. Going for a 1-1 draw.