With the title now out of reach, Tottenham Hotspur will play for pride when they host Manchester United on Sunday.
Chelsea’s 1-0 triumph over West Brom on Friday saw them secure the Premier League title, despite being the favourites to win it for the last couple of months. Michy Batshuayi’s late goal saw the Blues lift their sixth first division title.
Tottenham Hotspur, who have played second fiddle to their London rivals for most of the season, now have nothing left to play for. They have all but secured second place and a berth in next season’s Champions League group stage.
This will come as good news to Manchester United, who still have a chance of breaking into the top four, however bleak it may be. Their manager Jose Mourinho has spoken about prioritising the Europa League, but will not refuse a chance to make it into the top four if it is given to him.
With the Europa League final two weeks away, the Portugese may field a relatively strong team for this game while resting his first-team players for the next game or two. All in all, it is bound to be a riveting fixture between two top English sides.
Team News and Tactics
Master tactician Mauricio Pochettino played a 4-2-3-1 in Spurs’ defeat at West Ham, but is likely to switch to a 3-4-2-1 as he does in matches against the bigger teams.
With Jan Vertonghen back to full fitness, he is expected to slot into the back three, playing on the left side. He is likely to come up against Juan Mata, and it could be an interesting tussle between the duo.
There probably is a lot going on behind the scenes between Kyle Walker and Pochettino as the manager has opted to leave the Englishman out for a number of games, with Kieran Trippier coming in.
That is likely to happen again as Trippier is expected to start as a right wing-back. This also could spell the end of Walker’s career at White Hart Lane.
Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama have been a solid pair in shielding the back line, and are likely to start as a duo in midfield. While Dembele prefers play box to box, Wanyama is all about the defensive side of things, recycling the ball into the stride of the attacking players.
Tottenham Hotspur Probable XI: Lloris; Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Trippier, Wanyama, Dembele, Davies; Eriksen, Alli; Kane.
United boss Jose Mourinho hasn’t changed his tactics too much in the league this season as he has deployed either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 with the number 10 (mostly Paul Pogba) playing either in the hole behind the striker, or supplementing the two in midfield.
However, the Frenchman will be missing the game due to the death of his father – leaving Mourinho craving for options in the middle of the park. Marouane Fellaini will also miss out as he is serving a ban for his red card against Manchester City.
Jose does have two midfielders in Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera available, and they are likely to start as a duo in the middle of the park, with Wayne Rooney playing in an advanced attacking midfield position.
Manchester Evening News has reported that Antonio Valencia has not traveled with the squad, which could see Axel Tuanzebe retain his place in the team at right-back after a spirited performance against Arsenal.
Mourinho also stated that Eric Bailly’s absence from the Europa League final would see him play more regularly in the Premier League. The Ivorian is expected to be partnered by Chris Smalling, who is regaining match sharpness.
Manchester United Probable XI: De Gea; Tuanzebe, Bailly, Smalling, Darmian; Carrick, Herrera; Mata, Rooney, Martial; Rashford.
- Spurs have lost more Premier League games against Manchester United than against any other opponent (32) – indeed, in their top-flight history Spurs have lost 77 games against the Red Devils, eight more than they have against anyone else.
- Jose Mourinho has failed to win on his last four Premier League visits to White Hart Lane (D2 L2) and hasn’t won a league game there since August 2005, when his Chelsea side defeated Spurs 2-0.
- Manchester United have failed to score in their last two away league trips to White Hart Lane – in the Premier League era, they’ve only failed to score in three consecutive away games against an opponent twice – Everton (three games between August 2012 and April 2015) and Chelsea (four games between November 2003 and May 2007).
- Tottenham could go unbeaten at home for the first time in a league season since 1964/65 (W16 D2 L0 this season).
- Harry Kane has scored against 23 of the 25 clubs he’s faced with Tottenham in the Premier League – though he’s yet to score in six appearances against Manchester United.
Player to watch out for
Tuanezbe was exceptional against Arsenal last time around, and he will be looking to put in another splendid performance against their North London rivals. The Congolese defender was a thorn in Alexis Sanchez’s side all afternoon, and kept the Chilean away from the goal.
He will be asked to do a similar man-marking job on Sunday, but it will be against Dele Alli, whose characteristics are not the same as Sanchez’s. Thus, it will be interesting to see how he fares against the Englishman.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Manchester United
Manchester United are missing a number of first-team players and are expected to concede at least one goal against a rampant Spurs attack. Harry Kane will be looking to break his deadlock against the Red Devils as well.
With both teams having virtually nothing to play for in the Premier League, they are unlikely to be up for it, and it could end up being a cagey affair. On paper, Spurs look like the better team, but United may have enough steam in the tank to come away with a draw.