Old Trafford, Manchester 

Saturday, September 29, 16:30 GMT


Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham Hotspur arrive in Manchester with the aim of toppling over Ferguson’s Red Devils in their own backyard. The Lillywhites, in the past, have endured horrendous run of luck on their trips to the Theatre of Dreams, ergo the Portuguese manager would be gunning to buck the trend. Games between these two sides in the seasons gone by have always served up something extraordinary with both teams adamant on playing attacking football. However, Villas-Boas’ pragmatic approach could turn the tables and perhaps for the good of the North London club.

Manchester United are in a rich vein of form, at least as far as the results are concerned. Six wins on the bounce in all competitions is an impressive return by any standards, yet the performances thus far have been anything but impressive.  The curse of persistent injuries on the first team squad gets worse by the day and now the squad is indeed down to bare bones. Further cause of concern for the United manager is the form of the majority of his first team players, barring a few in Rio Ferdinand and Rafael Da Silva none seems to be hitting the top gear and with three games in a week, the squad depth will be tested now more than ever. Nevertheless, United seem to cope somehow as they always do.

Tottenham, on the other hand, have picked up pace after a stuttering start and that should calm a few nerves around White Hart Lane. Villas-Boas has been under the scanner ever since his high profile move to Stamford Bridge proved anything but a success and the press has been on his case ever since. A win at Old Trafford could go a long way in strengthening AVB’s position, both in the media and among the Spurs fan base. Further good news for Spurs faithful is the impressive form of their new signings. Jan Vertonghen has been a revelation while Dembele has added guile and panache to the otherwise steady Tottenham midfield. There are positive signs all around for Spurs but Old Trafford could still prove a bridge too far for AVB and Tottenham Hotspur.

Team News & Tactical Brief

Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson is facing a second injury crisis so early in the season as several of his players were injured during the past week. The biggest blow for the manager is the injury to captain Nemanja Vidic who has undergone a surgery on his knee and is set to be out for at least eight weeks. With Chris Smalling and Phil Jones already missing, the injury to the Serbian has left with just two center backs in Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans. Alexander Buttner was also injured in the League Cup match against Newcastle while Rafael is also a doubt after limping off at Anfield last weekend. Another setback for the manager is the injury to Antonio Valencia who was reported to have left United’s training ground on crutches on Tuesday. Ashley Young is also not fit but there is some good news for the manager. Wayne Rooney returned to action in midweek after being out for a month with a gashed leg while Darren Fletcher also made his first start in over 10 months against Newcastle and is looking set to return to regular first team action.

With so many injury problems at the back, Fergie has no option but to field his only available back four. Evra, Ferdinand and Evans are all ready to return to action after being rested on Wednesday while the manager will be hoping for Rafael to be ready before Saturday. The Brazilian has been an important member for United in the games against Spurs as he has kept Gareth Bale in check on most occasions. In the absence of Rafael and with Valencia missing, Darren Fletcher could take up the right-back role but it will hurt the home side at both ends of the pitch.

In midfield, Scholes is likely to be rested after playing three games during the last week and also with the away trip to Romania in the Champions League coming up. Giggs, who also has started back to back Premier League games is set to be rested as well. However, both veterans could find themselves a place on the bench. Sir Alex used an uncharacteristic diamond formation against Newcastle in midweek and with the injuries to Young and Valencia, he could opt for the same route against AVB’s men. Carrick will play at the base of the diamond while Kagawa will be on the top of it, taking the role of the playmaker. Cleverley and Anderson, who did so well in midweek, could be used  as the central midfielders once again and with Kagawa in there, there will be a lot of pass and move football from the Red Devils.

Upfront, Wayne Rooney, who was impressive in the win over Newcastle, is likely to return to Premier League action and hence he will be starting alongside Robin van Persie for the first time since the Dutchman’s high profile move to the Theatre of Dreams. The duo will give a lot of mobility to the United attack as both of them will be taking turns to lead the line while the other will be joining in the build-up play.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2): Lindegaard; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Carrick; Cleverley, Anderson; Kagawa; Rooney, van Persie

football formations

Tottenham Hotspur

Like his counterpart, Andre Villas-Boas is also having several key players missing for this clash, however, the difference is that the injuries are spread over the pitch and the manager is not left with any kind of selection headache. Assou-Ekotto is still out with a knee injury and is likely to return only after the international break. Also due to return during that time is Scott Parker who is under rehab from his Achilles surgery. Jake Livermore and Younes Kaboul are also out as long term absentees but the manager will be pleased with the fitness of Kyle Naughton and Emannuel Adebayor as both are set to be ready to face Manchester United on Saturday.

With the absence of Assou-Ekotto, the manager is likely to have Jan Vertonghen as his left-back. The summer signing from Ajax started as a center back against QPR, but was moved over to the left-flank to allow Bale to play on the wing. Vertonghen’s switch to the left means Gallas and Caulker, who performed admirably against Rangers in the second half, will once again be paired in central defence while Kyle Walker will take up his usual right-back responsibilities. However, the manager could start Bale as the left-back and Gallas and Vertonghen as his central defenders thus omitting Caulker from the starting XI.

In midfield, Sandro will be playing as the defensive midfielder and will have the responsibility of keeping United’s playmaker in check. The Brazilian has done a fine job in the absence of Scott Parker and the manager will be expecting much the same from him on Saturday. Dembele, who caused havoc in United’s defence when he was at Old Trafford with Fulham in August, will be ready to do so again but this time as Spurs’ playmaker. Bale and Lennon will be providing width to the visitors and both are expected to be the main source of attack for AVB’s team. Lennon, especially, will be seeing much of the ball having troubled Patrice Evra in the past. Another new arrival – Clint Dempsey – is expected to play behind the striker since Gilfy Siggurdson has not been on top of his game this season. The Icelander will be on the bench and could even play in the case of Bale being deployed at left-back.

Jermaine Defoe, who has been in superb goal scoring form, will once again be leading the line. The Englishman has already netted four times this season and his superb run has meant that Adebayor, who was the first choice striker for Spurs last season, has not started a game in this campaign. The inclusion of Defoe has added a lot of pace to the Spurs’ attack and with Lennon and Bale already in there, it could be a potent threat once again against the likes of Ferdinand and Evans who are not the quickest of defenders.

Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen; Sandro; Lennon, Dembele, Bale; Dempsey; Defoe

Key Facts

  • Manchester United have won 17 and lost none of their 20 games against Spurs at Old Trafford in the Premier League.
  • Rooney has scored seven goals in his last eight games against Tottenham, while van Persie has netted five times in his last six games against them.
  • United have conceded most headed goals (3) in the league this season.
  • Jermaine Defoe is 1 short of 200 senior goals in his career.

Player To Watch Out For

Moussa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur)

The Belgian was a reported target for Manchester United this summer, but the transfer never came close to being completed. Instead, Dembele moved to Spurs for a fee of £15 million as the Lillywhites triggered his release clause. And it has been no surprise that the team’s fortunes have changed since his arrival as Spurs have been on the up. The former Fulham man has been the catalyst of Spurs’ attacking play and it will be the same again on Saturday. Sir Alex and United, on the other hand, have already seen his prowess with Fulham this season and with better quality players around him, he could be the cause of a lot of trouble for the Red Devils.


Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

It will be an attacking game, as is most often the case when these two sides play each other. Tottenham will take the game to United, and are likely to trouble them as well with their attacking options. However, with the crowd behind them, Fergie’s men will have enough in their tank to see of the challenge from the visitors.

Blast From The Past

  • Will

    I may sound(?) cynical, but THFC’s hardest problem 9eye to be overcome) at OT is the plain fact that they are ALWAYS playing ELEVEN men versus TWELVE.

    I am not going to mention the possible motives behind the “referee” being so determined to assist the home side, but after some 60 years of watching our matches at OT I can assure yoiu that is isn’t a NEW feature. Even in the “doyble year” the 0-2 to NU at OT was highly suspect but since the formation of the PL referees have made a point of winning MORE matches for MU than has their team.

    The OT faithful will froth and rave her but every awat THFC supporters can list the incredibly long list of referee “accidental” foulups ( the Carrick NONpenalty; the ball that crossed the line and yet NOGOAL!! etc etc ad infin).

    Frerguson is probably close to veing the world’s best manager, no doubt about that, although Jose is biting at his heels, but even he feels embarrassed about the surfeit of help goven to his side by the supposedly impartial officials.

    I just hope that AVB is ready to play TWELVE men at OT.

    • Vabs9

      hahaha rofl…old guy aint u da funniest !
      if yaa so behind such crap , (evn thgh its a typical xcuse fr a team dats neva gonna win nethin netym soon) think of a sayn , fortune favours da brave
      in dis case “the refrees” :p , so wad we conclude is we r brave nd whereas u follow a lame xcuse fr a futball team who r still under arsenAls shadow ! happy losin ! GGMU

      • Morgan

        What the kind of language is that typed in?

      • Jay

        Wow Vabs9 your english is bad but I kind of got the jist of what you were trying to say…..

        These situations have occurred in Man Utd’s favour in the past few seasons at Old Trafford…

        1- Mendes goal 4 yards over the line, nobody can dispute that
        2- Spurs winning 2-0, Webb awards penalty for foul by Gomes on Carrick, no way was it a penalty, you score penalty and win the match.
        3-Nani handles the ball and drags it back, linesman waves flag, Gomes puts ball down Nani kicks it in, goal awarded.
        4- Last year at WHL, Adebayor goal ruled out for handball even though it struck his chest

        They are the main 4 that spring to mind

        We havent had 1 decision go our way

        I tell you what though, nobody expects us to win, we expect to get mugged off, no pressure on players, that could seriously work in our favour.
        Lennon and Dembele always perform against Utd…….if Bale and Defoe turn up too then I expect us to trouble you

      • Dace

        Learn to spell .

      • Fitzy69

        Speak English fella for god sake.

      • Will

        OMG what language is that?
        My typos were due to poor vision but you need a lesson in English.
        I guess that the gist of your drivel is that you know everything and I know nothing but like most MU supporters now you were not even around for their relegation were you?

        I cannot wait for rednose to retire and to watch your club fall on its face. Once Busby retired you club lost the little class it had.

        • Vabs9

          I may not have been there to watch ManU relegate, I am 20,out of which the last 15 years Ive grown to love United more than life, Ill tell u the difference between us (Flaunting your experience eh?)…..u may have seen more winters than me, but ive experienced them more than you…..Another Quote guess by who “ME”….Sir Matt Busby retired , we found another great , the one you call rednose…and there will be many to follow, keep waiting its going to take more than one lifetime “SIR”……

  • As a Tottenham fan ,I have to say on the whole.United on the majority of occaisions, have been well worth the winners.But what has not helped our cause over the years,have been some really horrendous Offiacal decisions in favour of United.While in all honesty I do not think,on most occaisions we would have won anyway. But any of those decisions against us,have certainly not helped our cause.One can only hope,that the game is enjoyable.And looking forward to a change of luck at OT.

    • Will

      I can think of about a dozen at least. Recently the Carrick nonpenalty shattered us by its wrongness and we were well worth a win until then and then the Mendes GOAL which speaks for itself. Those are the recent ones but before then not just a few. Generally MU have been worth their wins but the win/losses count would be different had no MU sucking referees been used. Even Liverpool in their heyday did not have so much referee help.

  • Chris

    I have to agree with you Brian. Allegedly you make your own luck, however they have had more than their fair share in these games over recent years. Let us hope this year is different, but I do not hold much hope in that direction. As for Vabs9’s inarticulate piece, it speaks volumes for all that is wrong with education (namely, a complete lack of it)


    • Vabs9

      da= the
      r= are
      dis= this
      thgh= though
      nevA = never
      netym= anytime
      xcuse= excuse
      yaa= you
      gonna= going too

      “one who is unhappy about his life, points
      out mistakes in others to feel good” – SOMEONE GREAT….

      • Chris

        Thank you for the clarification Vabs9. May I also compliment you on your choice of quote. As it by someone great, they were probably a Spurs fan. Enjoy the game, but not too much.


      • Will

        posting SMS drivel as writing and then being criticised for its lack of clarity is hardly enough to worry someone unless you are paranoid as it is fully deserved.
        Please do not write any good novels as i couldn’t bear the translation agony.

  • Fitzy69

    With Chris Foy as ref and Fergies mate Clattenberg as the 4th official we are guaranteed to get more of the same this weekend. In short, we are screwed.

  • Vabs9

    think of a sayng = think of quote , dats wad i meant , mayb my mobile eng is kinda difficult to understnd, neways bottom line u luv ur club stand by it bt givn reasons is da frst thng dey ask u nt to do “sportsmenship” , our history our achievmnts r cause of our players nd staffs hardwrk , no1 cn brush us off jus by sayn its cause ders a 12th player? O_o.

    • Will

      You hope.

      This is why virtually every other club hates you lot.
      not for the titles and cups as Ferguson is such a great manager that you could not expect otherwise but because its johny come lately supporters seem to think that MU has a god given right to win.
      Your really only truly great side died in 1958 and that was a pity especially duncan edwards a real world class footballer who with Best makes Rooney look like an idiot..

      • Vabs9

        Respect [email protected], Great game u guys really got us going…
        its not about some God given right or anything, we expect our club to win, it has shown greatness in the past, it will in the future….but when we lose we don’t reason our loss nor do we crib about it.
        You guys better be ready when we visit, its not over yet…
        “Its the most loved who has the most number of haters”

        Not Arrogant Just Better……..

      • Vabs9

        and yes everyclub has a GOD given right to win, it all comes down to how many winners HE has given you….we have one in every fan..!!!!