Both sides have overcome the sticky patches they were going through, but their Champions League hopes will be severely hit if they lose this match. Manchester United have been worse at Old Trafford than they have been on the road, however they did win their last home match against West Ham. After losing against West Brom, Everton and Newcastle at home, a loss against Spurs could plunge them back into disarray. Spurs have been poor in games against fellow Champions League contenders recently. They conceded a combined total of 11 goals against Manchester City and Liverpool, so if they are to get a positive result on Wednesday, they will have to be a lot better. It’s Tim Sherwood’s first match against one of Tottenham’s closest competitors, so it will be interesting to see how he approaches big matches.
Manchester United have won their last 4 league matches, keeping two clean sheets and scoring ten goals in the process. They are certainly improving under David Moyes, who has implemented his own style with the team. The Red Devils are always stronger in the second half of the season, and fans will be hoping that rings true under Moyes as well. Moyes’ men have climbed to 6th in the table and they are just 3 points off 4th place. If they make one or two quality signings in the upcoming transfer window, it will be very difficult to stop them from getting a Champions League place.
Sherwood has created a new attacking style which is already reaping the rewards. In his three league games in charge, Spurs have picked up 7 points, scoring 7 goals in the process. Considering how the side were struggling to find the net under Andre Villas-Boas, a lot of credit has to go to their new boss for that. Their 3-0 win over Stoke on Sunday was their most comfortable of the season so far, and this should boost confidence in North London as they will try and attack the top four in the second half of the season. His decision to bring Emmanuel Adebayor back from the cold is proving to be a masterstroke.
This is of course the second meeting of the two sides after an entertaining 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane. Kyle Walker and Sandro both scored wonderful goals for Tottenham, while Wayne Rooney scored twice for the away side. Last season in this fixture, Spurs ended their 23-year wait for a victory at Old Trafford with a 3-2 victory. Johnny Evans scored in his own net, while Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey also scored for Spurs. Nani and Shinji Kagawa found the net for the home side on that occasion.
Manchester United have not conceded a penalty in any of their last 76 Premier League games. They will be hoping that continues as four of Roberto Soldado’s five league goals have come from the spot.
Tottenham have scored three goals in two of Sherwood’s three games in charge. They hadn’t scored more than twice under Villas-Boas this season. This highlights the attacking intent Sherwood has brought to the Tottenham side.
Danny Welbeck has became more important for Manchester United in recent weeks with Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney missing for more matches than David Moyes would like. The Englishman has now scored 6 league goals which is already 5 more than he managed last season. He has been one of the key players in Manchester United’s resurgence, scoring crucial goals against Aston Villa, West Ham and Norwich. His shooting accuracy (50%) and chance conversion (33%) are both very impressive. He has also netted 6 of his 7 clear cut chances which highlights how clinical he is in front of goal. With the World Cup in the summer, he’ll be hoping to maintain his good form to secure a starting spot in the England line up.
Aaron Lennon will cause Manchester Unite lots of problems on Wednesday with his pace and trickery. Patrice Evra has been on the slide recently so Tottenham will hope Lennon can run him ragged, and create plenty of chances in the process. He scored his first goal of the season against Stoke on Sunday. Sherwood will be hoping that this ignites the winger’s season and he starts to score and produce lots of goals for his side. He has yet to get an assist this season, but he has created 17 chances which is one every 44 minutes. The winger will also be pushing for a place at the World Cup, but he will need his figures to improve drastically to get to Brazil.
Both Wayne Rooney (groin) and Robin van Persie (thigh) are very close to a return and will face fitness tests before this match. Phil Jones (knee) and Nani (hamstring) are still a couple of weeks away from returning to action. Rafael (groin) and Marouane Fellaini (wrist) will still be missing for a significant period.
After impressing on Sunday, Paulinho has picked up a knock and is a doubt for the match at Old Trafford. Jermain Defoe could return after suffering from a hamstring injury. Andros Townsend (hamstring), Kaboul (thigh) and Vertonghen (ankle) are all a few weeks away from returning from injury.
It’s a game that neither can really afford to lose if their Champions League hopes are to be taken seriously, especially as neither are in the top four currently. The home side are starting to look more like the side that won the title, whereas Tottenham have started to score goals under Sherwood. Neither have looked comfortable defensively despite both keeping a clean sheet in their last match. The potential return of van Persie and Rooney will boost Manchester United and they should beat Spurs. There will be goals in this one though.