Old Trafford, Manchester
October 30, 2010; 10:00 PM IST – Live on ESPN
Spurs travel to Manchester with a daunting task of claiming their first victory at Old Trafford since 1989. A victory for Tottenham will enable them to leapfrog United in the table and will also be a big step in consolidating their position as one of the top teams in England.
Manchester United seem to have recovered from the Wayne Rooney saga – their first away win of the season at Stoke last weekend followed by a hard-fought victory over Wolves in the Carling Cup are a testimony to that. Sir Alex would be pleased by the character shown by his team after losing their lead in both of those games. His team is the only one still unbeaten in the league, but five draws so far have resulted in United lagging behind in the title race. Anything less than three points would dent United’s title hopes severely.
Tottenham, on the other hand, will be hoping to take advantage of a shaky United defence which has failed to keep a clean sheet in 6 of their 9 league games. Spurs are yet to find top form, and have already lost to Wigan and West Ham this season. Their inaugural European campaign is not helping them too much. With a midweek game against Inter Milan in the Champions League coming up, Harry Redknapp might just opt to rest a couple of his players.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Wayne Rooney is still out for United and is to remain on the sidelines longer than what was initially expected. Michael Owen is also ruled out with a hamstring injury which will keep him out for four to five weeks. Ryan Giggs is expected to start training on Monday after recovering from a hamstring injury but long term absentee Owen Hargreaves has suffered another setback in his road to recovery.
With injury to Valencia and Giggs, Sir Alex has been short of options on the left wing which prompted him to play Patrice Evra on the left side of midfield last weekend. The move paid dividends and Sir Alex might be tempted to deploy the same strategy again. Rafael could return at right back to face the in-form Gareth Bale. Berbatov and Hernandez are expected to play up-front in a 4-4-2 formation.
Possible Lineup: Van Der Sar, Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, O’ Shea, Nani, Scholes, Fletcher, Evra, Hernandez, Berbatov
Huddlestone has failed to recover from his groin injury which kept him out against Everton last weekend. Spurs are going through a defensive crisis of sorts with Ledley King, Vedran Corluka and Michael Dawson out with injuries. Jamie O’ Hara, Jermaine Defoe and Jonathon Woodgate continue to be long-term absentees.
The form of Gareth Bale and Rafael Van Der Vaart would have given hope to Spurs fans of claiming their first win at Old Trafford in over two decades. Tottenham will look to attack from the wings with Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale having a go at United full-backs. Crouch will play as a lone man up-front with Van Der Vaart providing support with late runs into the box from midfield.
Possible Lineup: Gomes, Assou-Ekooto, Gallas, Kaboul, Hutton, Bale, Modric, Palacios, Van Der Vaart, Lennon, Crouch
Key Match Facts
1) Nani has most assists (7) this season in the league.
2) Spurs haven’t won for 67 games away to any of the ‘Big Four’ in the league.
3) Spurs have only one clean sheet this season, yet they have conceded just once in the second half.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Javier Hernandez (Manchester United)
The young Mexican has been in sensational form in the past few weeks. With an eye for goal, which was on display at Stoke last weekend, ‘Chicharito’ is proving to be one of the most natural finishers for the Red Devils ever since Ruud Van Nistelrooy adorned the famous red shirt. His predatory instincts will be a cause for trouble for the Tottenham defence.
Manchester United 3-2 Tottenham
This fixture has always produced goals and it will be no different this time around, as both teams have been struggling to keep clean sheets so far this season. Home support often proves to be crucial factor in these type of games and it may again prove to be decisive in helping United gain maximum points out of a high-scoring affair.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST