Spurs travel to Old Trafford on Sunday in a game that could be pivotal for both teams top four ambitions. United currently sit fourth, just two places and three points above Mauricio Pochettino’s side. With Arsenal winning yesterday and Liverpool in a rich vein of form, both need the points.
On the face of it Tottenham and United have had similar seasons. Both have a new manager with a strong identity. Both have struggled at times and lost games they would have expected to win, yet both still have a real chance of a top four finish.
So why does it feel like Spurs are on the up, while United are in a malaise?
Mauricio Pochettino has a clear plan. Over the season he has identified his best eleven and they are starting to understand his system. With accusations of long balls and a succession of different formations and tactics, van Gaal looks a lot less comfortable.
Part of the Spurs feel good factor is because Pochettino’s team is filled with young academy talent. Contrastingly United have some underperforming expensive big names – Di Maria, Falcao, Mata, van Persie.
Of course a cup final appearance and wins against your biggest rivals help too.
Manchester United tactics
United certainly keep the ball well. They top the possession table with 60.2%, although there have been accusations that the focus on possession for possession’s sake is part of the problem.
Their shot numbers are not great – they sit 8th for shots taken, although they concede the 4th fewest.
Are they a long ball team? They have played the third highest number in the league but that has to be set against their high possession. They seem equally keen on crossing the ball – again they are third in the league. Fellaini is a particular target, top of United’s players with an average of 3.6 aerial duels won per game.
Manchester United are favourites at 1.98, Spurs are at 4.2, while the draw is 3.8
Spurs have a fully fit team again, more positive evidence for Pochettino’s training regime and squad rotation.
Angel Di Maria and Jonny Evans are both suspended. Robin van Persie is out through injury. Falcao played against our under-21s this week without troubling them much, so it will be interesting to see if he plays.
The first eleven almost picks itself these days. The choice of the three attacking midfielders behind Kane is the biggest selection dilemma. I would go with Eriksen, Dembele and Chadli. Dembele’s power in the centre against a team with so much possession could be a bonus.
I would also bring Danny Rose back in to test makeshift right back Antonio Valencia.
Prediction: Manchester United 1 – Spurs 2 (Superior movement and pressing to win the day)
Are you confident Spurs will beat Manchester United? Are you glad we have Pochettino rather than LVG at Tottenham? Let me know your opinions in the comments below.