White Hart Lane, London
21 January, 16:00 GMT
Man United travel to North London at the weekend as Andre Villas Boas looks to master mind a rare league double over Fergie’s high flying United side. Over the years the Old Trafford club has regularly played their best football at the home of the Lily Whites and the Lane has witnessed some memorable duels between the two sides. As things stand its fourth versus first and that in itself adds extra significance to the game.
Tottenham have been in fine form lately and are third in the form table behind the two Manchester clubs and look to be pushing Chelsea for the bronze place. Villas Boas has build a strong outfit and players like Gareth Bale and Mousa Dembele have looked world class on more than a few occasions this current campaign. Although, they might yet lack one world class center forward but certainly the Portuguese manager has drilled in an admirable work ethic. Spurs have already beaten Man United this season and on their home turf it wouldn’t be beyond them to halt the Red Devil juggernaut.
Man United have blitz and at times squeezed past all comers and currently occupy pole with a seven point cushion over neighbors and defending champions Man City. However, the upcoming fixture along with the trip to Arsenal theoretically represents the toughest two away trips left for Ferguson’s United and hence all eyes will be on this encounter to see how the United side face this daunting task. United have 55 points in 22 games and are on course for a record breaking season, can they keep up the momentum or will the wheels come off soon? Tottenham against Manchester United is sure to serve up the appetite of everyone from London to Manchester and football fans worldwide.
Team News & Tactics
Andre Villas has a major headache not just for the weekend but the rest of the season possibly as Sandro looks to be out for at least 3 months. The Brazilian midfield general has been one of the major reasons of Spurs’ excellent league form and his absence will be surely felt. Furthermore, bad news comes in the form of Adebayor’s departure for the AFCON leaving just Jermain Defoe as the striking option. Defoe too has failed to find the back of the net recently after his early season exploits. Center Backs Kaboul and Gallas are out injured and will miss Sunday’s clash.
Nevertheless, Tottenham would be brimming with confidence and hoping to catch Chelsea for the third spot as the Stamford Bridge outfit look to be floundering. Gareth Bale and Lennon will be bombing down the wings and look to cause trouble to the Red Devils leaky rearguard. Dembele would be most probably partnered by the returning Scot Parker at the heart of Spurs’ midfield as Clint Dempsey would look to play in the hole behind Defoe. Gareth Bale will start at the left wing but look to move infield and even swap positions with both Dempsey and Lennon from time to time. Ergo, United would find it impossible to man mark the Welsh wizard.
At the back, Tottenham finally have a steady look about them. Vertonghen and Dawson are nailed on as the two center halves as youngsters Naughton and Walker occupy the full back roles. Hugo Lloris has won over the number jersey and should start in goal.
Tottenham’s approach under Villa Boas has gradually evolved and the Lily Whites look to keep the ball more and build attacks with more patience although the attacking wing play from the previous regime is still widely used. Parker is the ball winner for the home side, while Dembele is the enforcer par excellence, driving the Spurs side forward both by his individual surging runs and intelligent link up play. From the bench Tottenham are short of firepower, Tom Huddlestone and Gylfi Sigurdsson are the only two capable of making some impact. If need be, Dembele would be freed from the midfield role and moved up the pitch while one of Livermore or Huddlestone be required to come in and perform the defensive duties.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-1-1): Lloris; Walker, Vertonghen, Dawson, Naughton; Lennon, Dembele, Parker, Bale; Dempsey, Defoe
United made ten changes for their midweek FA Cup replay and labored to a 1-0 win over West Ham. Now Ferguson will bring out the cavalry in what could be a season defining game for the Old Trafford outfit. Jonny Evans is out for this one while Darren Fletcher would miss the rest of the season after the club released a statement regarding his health condition. Nemanja Vidic limped out of the victory against Liverpool but one suspects the Serbian to be fit and ready to start. Ashley Young too, should be fit but might have to fight it out for the left wing berth with both Nani and Kagawa. The Japanse international looks good to start this one, but it won’t be surprising if Young gets the nod owing to his greater defensive qualities in helping out his full back against Lennon and Bale. Rest of the squad is fit and raring to go with Wayne Rooney’s return adding more fire power.
Robin Van Persie would lead the line for the Red Devils partnered by Wayne Rooney who will look to drop deep and make himself a nuisance to mark for the opposition Defensive midfielder i.e. Scot Parker. Valencia, despite his prolonged poor form, will start at the right wing and in tandem with Rafael look to push the duo Bale and Naughton in check. Carrick and Cleverley would be the center midfield pairing for United, a pairing which has come up leaps and bounds in the recent games. Michael Carrick especially has been pivotal and omnipresent in United’s great run and would be the player to look out for the home side. Vidic and Ferdinand would be United’s two pillars at the back and will be flanked by Evra and Rafael as Bale and co look to come hard at them. David De Gea has been steady lately and the improvement in the former Athletico shot stopper has been evident.
From the bench United have a plethora of game changers, with the likes of Chicharito, Welbeck, Nani and Anderson can single handedly alter the outcome of games. Moreover, United have experience in the form of Scholes and the evergreen Giggs to call upon if the situation demands composure and calm heads.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-1-1): De Gea; Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Cleverley, Carrick, Kagawa; Rooney, RvP
- Spurs have not won a home game against Manchester United since May 2001.
- Tottenham are unbeaten in their last six games – their longest undefeated run under Andre Villas-Boas.
- Spurs have dropped 16 points from winning positions this season.
- United’s return of 55 points from 22 games is their best ever points tally at this stage of a top-flight campaign.
- Man United have 16 different scorers this season.
Player To Watch Out For
Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
The Welshman is always in the news – be it for his fifth bookable dive of the season or a game winning hattrick. Bale is definitely the most lethal weapon that the North London outfit possesses and perhaps the best winger in the game at the moment. Against the league leaders, Bale would look to cause untold carnage and cement his side’s Champions League credentials.
Michael Carrick (Man United)
The former Spurs player has come into his own in the last two months and is surely the most understated player at the Red Devils disposal. Carrick makes United tick and if the Englishman is on his game, his former club could find it impossible to stop the United juggernaut.
Tottenham 2-2 Man United
This game always produces goals and electrifying entertainment and this one is poised to be much the same. Both teams are a threat going forward and are susceptible at the back which is always a good sign for the neutral. It will probably end in a scored draw with both teams creating loads of chances.