Jose Mourinho will return to Old Trafford for the first time since being sacked by Manchester United, as his Tottenham side take on the Red Devils this week.
One of the most eagerly anticipated matches of Matchday 15 of the 2019-20 Premier League will come our way from Old Trafford on Wednesday night, as Manchester United go head to head against Tottenham Hotspur, managed by former boss Jose Mourinho.
Manchester United have endured a torrid start to the season and find themselves in the ninth position in the Premier League table following their 2-2 draw against Aston Villa this past weekend. With no wins in their last three matches in all competitions, the Red Devils’ manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under pressure to turn things around, amid talks of another managerial change at Old Trafford.
Tottenham, too, have made a poor start to the campaign, which resulted in the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino last month. In came Jose Mourinho and the former Manchester United boss has led Tottenham to victories in his first three matches in charge. Spurs are now fifth in the table after their 3-2 win against Bournemouth and will be aiming to cut down the six-point gap to fourth-placed Chelsea with a win.
Ahead of Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford for the first time since he was relieved of his managerial duties by United last December, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
The 20-time English champions will once again be without the services of star man Paul Pogba, while fellow midfielders Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay are “touch and go” for the Tottenham game as per the manager. Diogo Dalot, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah all remain sidelined for Manchester United.
Given the lack of options at his disposal, it is unlikely that Solskjaer will be making a whole lot of changes to the side that failed to defeat Aston Villa at home this past Sunday. David de Gea is a guaranteed starter between the sticks for United, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire are certainties to feature in the backline.
Club captain Ashley Young could come in at left-back though, replacing the inexperienced Brandon Williams while Axel Tuanzebe might get the nod in place of Victor Lindelof at the heart of the Manchester United defence, despite the latter scoring against Villa.
Solskjaer has a big selection problem in the midfield department, after having seen Andreas Pereira and Fred overrun by Villa in the last game. The latter is likely to hold on to his place in the side, but Pereira could be dropped in favour of McTominay, should the Scotsman be passed fit.
Daniel James, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial all ought to keep their places in the starting XI, but Jesse Lingard is likely to replace Juan Mata as Manchester United’s No. 10 on Wednesday night.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Tuanzebe, Maguire, Young; Fred, McTominay; James, Lingard, Rashford, Martial
Mourinho has no fresh injury concerns ahead of his return to Old Trafford. Tottenham will once again be without captain Hugo Lloris, backup goalkeeper Michel Vorm, Erik Lamela and Ben Davies. There are likely to be a few changes to the side that started against Bournemouth this past weekend.
Paulo Gazzaniga is the automatic pick between the sticks for Spurs, while Jose is likely to continue with Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld as his centre-back pairing. Serge Aurier should also hold on to his spot at right-back, but Danny Rose is likely to replace Jan Vertonghen on the opposite side.
Tanguy Ndombele started his first game under Mourinho at the weekend, but is likely to drop to the bench on Wednesday night with Harry Winks returning to the fold. Eric Dier should continue to hold on to the other spot in Tottenham’s midfield double pivot.
Dele Alli has been in sensational form since Mourinho took over the reins at Tottenham and he should continue to occupy the No. 10 slot at Old Trafford, while Son Heung-min is a guaranteed starter on the left wing. Moussa Sissoko started and scored in the last game, but is expected to make way for Lucas Moura on the right flank. Harry Kane will lead the line for Spurs.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga; Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Rose; Dier, Winks; Moura, Alli, Son; Kane
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.6
2. Marcus Rashford to score anytime @ 2.50
1. Marcus Rashford to score 2 or more @ 9.00
- Manchester United have lost three of their last seven home league against Tottenham (W4), including this exact fixture 0-3 last season. They had lost only two of their previous 36 at Old Trafford against the Lilywhites in the top-flight (W27 D7).
- Tottenham have lost more Premier League games against Manchester United than they have against any other opposition in the competition (34).
- Manchester United have picked up just 18 points from their opening 14 Premier League matches this season (W4 D6 L4). It represents their worst start to a league season since the 1988-89 campaign, when they also had 18 points and went on to finish 11th.
- Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho could become just the third manager to win a Premier League away game at Old Trafford with two different clubs (after Martin O’Neill and Rafael Benitez), having won there 3-1 with Chelsea in May 2005.
- Both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have dropped 12 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season – only Aston Villa have dropped more (13).
Player to Watch
The England international has been on a resurgent run ever since Jose Mourinho took over at Tottenham. Alli comes into Wednesday’s game on the back of a fine week during which he scored against Olympiacos in the Champions League and was Tottenham’s chief instigator in the win against Bournemouth, bagging a brace.
The 23-year-old has now been directly involved in three goals in his last two Premier League games (2 goals, 1 assist), as many as he had in his final 12 appearances under Mauricio Pochettino. From a torrid spell to becoming Tottenham’s go-to man again, Alli seems to be getting back to his best and that could spell trouble for Manchester United.
Manchester United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham have picked up three wins in a row across all competitions since Jose Mourinho was named as Mauricio Pochettino’s replacement. They remain vulnerable at the back, as has been witnessed in all three games, but at the same time they have been scoring freely.
Manchester United, on the other hand, are looking all over the place at both ends of the pitch. They will pose a threat on the break with the pace their attackers possess, but injury problems in midfield, a general tactical ineptitude and the lack of confidence means they will once again struggle to get a positive result.
Tottenham have had troubles away from home, but based on current form, they go into Wednesday’s game as the favourites. And that is why, we at The Hard Tackle are predicting Mourinho to guide Spurs to a win on his return to Old Trafford, further increasing the pressure on the man who replaced him at United.