With a 5 game undefeated streak at Old Trafford, Tottenham Hotspur came into the draw as favorites against a completely changed Manchester United. The result however was contrary to popular predictions.
To everyonea s surprise Fellaini put up a man of the match performance scoring one and dealing a hand in the second. Throughout the game Manchester looked eager for the ball and threatened the visiting team right from the first whistle. With Blind and Young forging a partnership down their left, they gave a torrid time for Townsend and Walker, the former who was later substituted for Dembele within the first 30 minutes.
Team Changes and Line-up’s
The visiting side played a 4-2-3-1 formation, very much similar to the team that played in the previous fixture against QPR. Only difference being the inclusion of Danny Rose instead of Ben Davies in left back. Manchester United on the other hand introduced Juan Mata, Jones and Carrick as they lost Di Maria and dropped Luke Shaw for the fixture. Van Gaal too fielded a 4-2-3-1 formation. With Valencia continuing at right back and surprisingly Daley Blind at left back. He also played Fellaini at the number ten position while Carrick and Hererra played the two deep midfielders.
The first half was completely dominated by Manchester United, as they gave Tottenham no time to settle or string together even a handful of passes. With Spurs struggling to establish dominance in the first twenty minutes, it was a given that they wouldna t settle for rest of the game. Although football pundits touted Townsend to run circles around Blind who lacks pace, it was very much the opposite. Blind and Ashley Young combined very well to give Kyle Walker a torrid time and often ensured Townsend found himself assisting Walker in defence. In fact the first goal was scored because of defensive errors on Tottenhama s right flank. As Walker was busy marking Young, Mason had dropped deep to sit with Fellaini, blinds ball to an unmarked Carrick, saw Mason leave his man and charge towards him. This gave Carrick time as well as an open path for Fellaini to make a run unmarked. A beautifully slotted through ball saw Fellaini smash a left footer to the bottom corner past Hugo Lloris. What Hurt Tottenham more was that it was just the 9th minute.
As talks of Tottenhama s prowess at coming back from losing positions were brewing, a corner for United was underway. Once again poor defensive organisation skills on the part of Spurs was on display. With a lofted ball finding Fellainia s head yet again, Tottenham defenders were having nervous break downs as they made unsure headers to the edge of the box. Michael Carrick who calmly headed it back to the same place where Fellaini had scored found luck as the ball looped into the goal over Lloris. The man at fault, Chadli, who had left the far post as soon as the corner was taken. Within the twenty minute mark, Tottenham looked deflated like a week old Birth day balloon. Having lost all confidence and with Smiles and determination surging through the United players, Spurs seemed out classed and disfigured as the Midfield trio of Eriksen, Townsend and Chadli began losing shape and ran amuck randomly. Ryan Mason ad Harry Kane seemed to be the only two players yet to loose heart as the former ran his heart out for possession, while the latter was forced to play deeper in search of the ball.
In the 30th minute, Pochettinoa s surprise substitution of Townsend (much to his disappointment) saw the introduction of Belgian, Dembele. Whether this was a tactical change or a personal statement from the manager is yet a mystery. However, Dembelea s introduction added much needed physicality to Spurs. However, within 4 minutes of his introduction, youngster Bentaleba s miss pass to Rooney, saw Dier chasing the English striker and then beaten for Uniteda s third and final blow. Juan Mata on the other wing looked revived as he gave Danny Rose hell on earth as Valencia and the Spaniard bombarded on the right wing. The first half came to a dismal end for the visitors who finished with 0 shots on goal.
The second half on the other hand looked a little greener for Tottenham. United now relishing a three goal lead, allowed Tottenham to enjoy a little possession, however poor positioning on the part of Spurs saw no fruitful outcome. Harry Kane was allowed to run at goal on a few occasions however double teeming defenders and lack of players to pass to saw his loose possession more often than not. With only one very good chance coming for Kane in the dying minutes of the game, saw De Gea lucky enough not to let the ball slip through his legs and retain a clean sheet. Even the surprising introduction of Adebayor saw no change in the result. Tottenham were sent back home with no points and an Old Trafford singing of Uniteda s revival.
Value of Result
To Manchester United – with three more points earned in this fixture, Manchester United now are only two points behind second place and city rivals Manchester in blue. With City dropping points over the weekend, Manchester United can rightly challenge the teams above for a higher position. With Arsenal, City, Liverpool and Chelsea yet to play. United have a difficult run ahead, however if they continue to play the way they did in this fixture, we could see United finish second or even challenge for the title (if United fans are extremely optimistic) if Chelsea have a bad patch ahead.
To Tottenham Hotspur a With a poor goal difference, Spurs drop to 7th place tied at 50 points with Southampton. However with an eight point lead over Stoke, falling lower in the table is something Spurs can do only if the play extremely poorly. With a comparatively easier set of games ahead, this loss does affect Tottenhama s run to a certain level. If they wish to finish higher than they did in the last season, they must look to win all their games and hope the teams above drop points.
6 things we learned from the game a
- Michael Carrick is the most important part of Uniteda s midfield set up
- Kyle Walker crumbles like a cookie under pressure
- Daley Blind is a very good left back
- Tottenham cannot perform if they do not settle in the first twenty minutes
- Marouane Fellaini thrives at the number 10 position
- Emmanuel Adebayor is still alive
With Uniteda s victory and Citya s defeat, the race for 4th has just been expanded to a race for 2nd, 3rd as well as 4th. Who will qualify for Championa s league this season? Wait as the mystery unfolds.