There is no doubt that since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over the reins at Manchester United after Jose Mourinho’s sacking following the teams 3-1 defeat to Liverpool in December, that the Norwegian boss has steadied the ship. Five wins in a row, four in the Premier League and an FA Cup success over Reading mean that Solskjaer has made the most successful start of almost any Manchester United manager.
However, his critics point out that United have benefitted from what can only be described as an easy run of games in that period. Cardiff, Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United are all embroiled in a relegation battle at the foot of the table and can barely muster a goal between them, while Bournemouth are in the midst of an exceptionally poor run of form that has seen them dropping down the table over the last few months.
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Even so, United’s performance levels in those games have improved dramatically and as such, this makes their trip to face an equally in form Tottenham team at Wembley this weekend an even more exciting prospect.
Tottenham have been banging the goals in for fun of late, netting six at Everton, seven in the FA Cup at Tranmere as well as putting five past Bournemouth. Their only blemish on the record is a 3-1 home loss to Wolves over the Christmas period. One thing to note though is that Spurs did play in midweek against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semifinal first leg (winning 1-0 thanks to a Harry Kane penalty), whereas United will have had over a week to prepare for the game.
When the teams last met in the Premier League at Old Trafford at the start of the season Tottenham produced a superb second half performance with goals from Harry Kane and a double from Lucas Moura handing the Londoners a superb 3-0 win over United. It was a game that many experts now feel was the beginning of the end for Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford this season.
That win apart, it is Manchester United who have generally had the better of things in this fixture over the years and as such, that is what makes Sunday afternoon’s clash at Wembley, also being shown live on Sky Sports, all the more exciting.
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Tottenham v Manchester United Preview
Tottenham Current Form (last 10 games)
- V Leicester (A) – W 2-0
- V Barcelona (A) – D 1-1
- V Burnley (H) – W 1-0
- V Arsenal (A) – W 2-0
- V Everton (A) – W 6-2
- V Bournemouth (H) – W 5-0
- V Wolves (H) – L 1-3
- V Cardiff City (A) – W 3-0
- V Tranmere R (A) – W 7-0
- V Chelsea (H) – W 1-0
Played 10, Won 8, Drawn 1, Lost 1, Goals Scored – 28, Goals Conceded – 6
Top Scorers – Kane (14 goals), Son (8 goals), Moura (6 goals), Alli, Eriksen, Lamela (4 goals)
Tottenham Likely Team – (4-1-3-2) – Lloris, Trippier, Rose, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Winks, Sissoko, Eriksen, Alli, Son, Kane.
Spurs come into this game knowing that after it, Son will head off to the Asian Cup for a couple of weeks, so he will likely feature up front with Harry Kane again rather than Lucas Moura. Other than that, I’d expect the same team that beat Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semifinal in midweek to start the game, other than in goal where Lloris will come back in for Gazzaniga. The only other change could be at left back where if Danny Rose is not fully fit, Welsh ace Ben Davies could start in his place.
Man Utd Current Form (last 10 games)
- V Southampton (A) – D 2-2
- V Arsenal (H) – D 2-2
- V Fulham – (H) – W 4-1
- V Valencia (A) – L 1-2
- V Liverpool (A) – L 1-3
- V Cardiff City (A) – W 5-1
- V Huddersfield (H) – W 3-1
- V Bournemouth (H) – W 4-1
- V Newcastle (A) – W 2-0
- V Reading (H) – W 2-0
Played 10, Won 6, Drew 2, Lost 2, Goals Scored – 26, Goals Conceded – 13
Top Goalscorers – Martial, Lukaku (8 goals), Pogba (7 goals), Rashford (6 goals), Lingard (4 goals)
Man Utd Likely Team – (4-3-3) – De Gea, Valencia, Shaw, Lindelof, Jones, Matic, Herrera, Pogba, Martial, Lingard, Rashford
United still have some problems defensively with Eric Bailly suspended and Marcos Rojo injured still. I’d expect the back four to remain the same as their last Premier League game but in midfield there could be a change if Pogba isn’t fit enough to start. I think he will be, but if he doesn’t then I think Mata will drop into midfield with Lingard coming into attack for the Spaniard. Lukaku has scored three goals in three games of late but I think Solskjaer prefers the direct running and pace of Rashford to start the game so I’d expect the England man to get the nod again here. Alexis Sanchez should be fit to play at least some part from the bench if required after feeling a tight hamstring in the game against Reading.
Spurs v Man Utd – Three Tips
All the odds shown below are courtesy of bet365 Sport and were correct as of 1.30pm on Wednesday 9th January 2018.
To Win The Game – Tottenham (evens)
A few weeks ago, I’d have expected Spurs to be much shorter odds to win this game, that is how much United have improved, and I do expect the Red Devils to push Tottenham hard here, however I feel United’s back line is a real worry and I can see Spurs, who are scoring lots of goals at the minute, doing just enough to get the win they will need here.
Correct Score – Tottenham 2-1 Manchester United – 17/2
It’s fair to say that these two are the form teams in the Premier League over the last six games or so and as such, I think this will be a much more even contest than the game at Old Trafford. United are a different team under Solskjaer and I think they’ll push Spurs really hard, but the fact that the Londoners are scoring so many goals and that leaky United defence, means that I still feel the home side will just about come out on top and 2-1 feels the correct scoreline.
Anytime Goalscorer – Dele Alli (Tottenham) – 9/4
Dele Alli may not score as many goals as Son or Kane, but when he does score them, they tend to be important goals in the important games. He hasn’t scored a goal for a little while despite putting in some excellent performances from midfield but I think this is a game which he will view as being one he can put his stamp on and at 9/4 to score at any time, he is a very good value bet.