Match Previews

Preview: Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur

Following their shocking defeat at Brighton last time out, United desperately need to show what they are made of as Spurs come to town to close Bank Holiday weekend.

Not surprisingly, José Mourinho is under pressure with almost a 50/50 split in the fan base on whether he should stay or go – whilst his counterpart Mauricio Pochettino is also feeling some pressure from supporters despite winning his opening two games, as a result of their non-existent transfer business this summer.

These sides know a win would go a long way in helping them achieve a top four finish.

Spurs

Position: 4th

Style of play: industrious pressing

Formation: 3-4-2-1

Injuries suspensions (expected return)

  • Cameron Carter-Vickers; groin (unknown)
  • Juan Foyth; thigh (day to day)
  • Vincent Jansson; foot (unknown)
  • Joshua Onomah; knee (day to day)
  • Heung-Min Son; international duty (unknown)
  • Victor Wanyama; knee (late fitness test)

Team breakdown

Returning to a three-man defence, the trio of Toby Alderweireld (a well-documented transfer target for the hosts), Davison Sánchez and Jan Vertonghen are tough to break although can be isolated if taken into wide or high positions. The wings back in Kieran Tripper and Ben Davies have energy and have the ability to produce in attack whether it be from crosses or set-pieces.

Still fairly underrated, Christian Eriksen is a danger for Spurs but has played in a much deeper position than usual thus far – although he may well be pushed forward in place of Lucas Moura so that Mousa Dembélé can stabilise the midfield.

The partnership between Dele Alli and Harry Kane can prove deadly when both England stars are on form but are yet to really trouble United at Old Trafford in their respective careers. It is vital that these two are kept at arms-length as both these man can exploit space and produce real quality if given a hint of a chance.

What the manager said:

“We have an amazing job ahead to get the players as fit as possible in the way that we need them to be but, of course, football is football. We are going to compete against Manchester United in whatever circumstances they find themselves in and what circumstances we are in.”

Last five meetings with United: LWLWL

The Red Devils

Talking points

A devastating defeat at Brighton last weekend with be fresh in all the players’ minds despite eight days since.

Talk has been rife of a disgruntled training camp but United need to stay focused in such a huge game so early in the campaign.

A possible anti-hierarchy plane banner has been rumoured to be flying over the stadium with reds around the globe frustrated with the Glazers and in particular, Ed Woodward.

Tweets from super-agent Mino Riola (a man who boasts the likes of Henrik Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimović as his clientele) attacked the view Paul Scholes aired about Pogba not being a leader; which prompted reactions from former players, coaches and the fan base.

Decisions are still to be made on a host of injured players but the Monday night kick-off is handy for recovery.

Injuries/suspensions (estimated return)

  • Diogo Dalot; meniscus (back in training)
  • Nemanja Matić; abdominal (late fitness test)
  • Marcos Rojo; knock (day to day)
  • Sergio Romero; knee (day to day)
  • Antonio Valencia; calf (late fitness test)

Team news

Chris Smalling may return to the side if Mourinho opts to match his opponents in a 3-4-2-1 formation for the second game running or simply replace Eric Bailly or Victor Lindelöf following their dismal displays in the aforementioned latest embarrassment.

Antonio Valencia could return (possibly at wing back with Luke Shaw) and take the captaincy from Pogba – which does make sense but would likely continue the current narrative of a Mourinho-Pogba dispute.

Andreas Pereira may not keep his holding midfield role if Ander Herrera or Nemanja Matić are available to start.

Alexis Sánchez is likely to come straight back into the side in place of Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard may also replace Antony Martial in attack.

What the manager said:

“I’m always looking forward to our matches, especially after a negative result, as all you want [to do] is to play again. I love football and I love to stand on the touchline.”

Possible key battles

• Lukaku vs Alderweireld

• Pogba vs Dier

• Kane vs Bailly

Match facts

  • United have won 21 of their 26 (D3 L2) league games against Spurs – winning each of the last four without conceding a goal
  • Spurs have therefore lost more away matches to United than any other opposition
  • The home side in each of the last seven meetings between these teams has claimed victory – a run stretching back to March 2015
  • A London team has not won at Old Trafford since Spurs won on New Year’s Day in 2014

UK television channel: Sky Sports Main Event/Premier League

Enjoy the match!

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