Big Match Breakdown: Manchester United v Tottenham
Title rivals match-up at Old Trafford
Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur will both be looking to close the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City when they meet in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.
The two clubs sit five points behind the Citizens ahead of the clash. But a win for either side would ramp up the pressure on Pep Guardiola’s Sky Blues.
Aside from a disappointing defeat to West Ham United in midweek, Spurs are in the better form. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have won eight of their last eleven in all competitions and are unbeaten away from home since early May.
Manchester United, on the other hand, are winless in two in the Premier League after a draw against Liverpool and a hugely disappointing defeat to Huddersfield Town last weekend.
The big question is – will Jose Mourinho park the bus? And if he does, can the visitors find a way through? The Coral News Team have you covered with another big match breakdown.
Traditionally, this is a fixture that the Red Devils dominate. In the Premier League era, Spurs have only claimed seven wins from 48 matches against United.
However, in recent times the Lilywhites have been enjoyed a resurgence in form against Saturday’s opponents. Goals from Victor Wanyama and Harry Kane were enough for a 2-1 victory the last time the two sides met in May of this year.
Meanwhile, two victories at Old Trafford in 2012 and 2014 show that Spurs are no longer fearful of the big occasion. To put that into some context, Tottenham’s previous two league wins away at United in the league were in 1976 and 1989 respectively.
On the whole, United still retain dominance in this fixture. But Mauricio Pochettino has shown in recent years that his teams will not be cowered by trips to Old Trafford like Tottenham teams of old.
The Likely XIs
Manchester United are expected to welcome back Eric Bailly at centre-half in place of Chris Smalling. Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan could also return after dropping to the bench in last week’s defeat at Huddersfield. They’ll be swapped in for Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial.
For Spurs, Harry Kane is expected to miss out with a minor hamstring strain. And that could mean a shift in formation to 3-5-2, with Son Heung-Min and Fernando Llorente starting in a two-pronged attack.
Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli will then sit in a deeper role in the absence of Eric Dier, who will drop to the bench following Wednesday’s Carabao Cup defeat to West Ham.
The most intriguing question of the afternoon is how Tottenham will cope without Kane. Mauricio Pochettino may have lost his talisman up-front, but Son and Llorente are sure to cause the United defence plenty of problems. For the hosts, Lukaku will provide the obvious threat to a stern Spurs backline.
Central midfield will be another key battleground. Jose Mourinho will set his side up to stifle Tottenham’s fluid attack. And that will mean Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic will need to be at their best in their defensive midfield roles. Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Harry Winks all have different qualities which should make them difficult to defend against if Tottenham get into a rhythm.
Both sides also have attacking full-backs, so expect the channels to be utilised to full effect.
Given the impressive start to the season that both teams have made, it’s difficult to separate the two sides. That makes the draw at 9/4 the one to be on. However, if you fancy United to win a seventh home game in succession, then the Red Devils are 23/20. Spurs are 5/2 to become the first team to win at Old Trafford in 36 games.
The Coral News Team may be expecting a draw but that doesn’t mean there won’t be goals. United and Spurs have hit the back of the net a combined total of 41 times in the league so far this season. It’s 17/4 for a draw and Both Teams to Score.
Unsurprisingly, in the absence of Kane, it’s Lukaku who is the favourite to find the back of the net. Lukaku is 5/4 anytime and 10/3 to net first, while for Spurs the onus will fall on the dangerous Son, who is a 14/5 to score at any point in the contest.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing