Sunday afternoon has the biggest match of the weekend, with Manchester United taking on Tottenham at Old Trafford. This fixture was played on New Year’s Day last season, but it proved to be a horrible start to the New Year for United fans and manager David Moyes, with Spurs recording their second consecutive win at Old Trafford, lifting them above the hosts to sixth in the Premier League table.
Emmanuel Adebayor got a header on the end of a Christian Eriksen cross to open the scoring for the visitors in the first half and Eriksen was involved again in the second half, doubling Spurs’ lead with a close-range header.
Danny Welbeck struck back within a minute to beat Hugo Lloris and set up a frantic closing 20 minutes, but Spurs were able to hang on until the end, rewarding the travelling fans and then new boss Tim Sherwood with all three points.
Both teams’ managers have been replaced this season, but there are more similarities than differences between the clubs; United continue to struggle this season under new boss Louis Van Gaal, while Spurs have lately rediscovered their confidence and winning ways under Mauricio Pochettino. A win for Tottenham on Sunday would level the two clubs on points, although United would stay ahead on goal difference.
To see what fans may be thinking about the fixture this season, we looked at the Beat Your Manager! Fantasy Football data from this game last season, to see what players were picked for the line-ups last year.
Beat Your Manager! Fantasy Football is a game similar to “Football Manager”, but applied to live football, where you manage your favourite club and pick line-ups, bench, formations and substitutions, all in real-time. When fans play the game, the Beat Your Manager team can measure the popularity of different players, by looking at how frequently they are selected for the starting line-up, substitutes bench or not selected at all.
The app ran for the 2013/4 EPL season and is currently inactive while the developers are creating the revised version – watch this space!
Formation: Solid 4-4-2 by far the most popular choice with both sets of fans
Both MUFC and THFC fans were pretty much in agreement on the formation to pick for this game; a solid 4-4-2 winning out for both sides. A whopping 56 per cent of Man United fans opted for this set-up, with an attacking 4-3-3 in 2nd place but way behind, selected by just 19 per cent.
Similarly, an overwhelming two-thirds (67 per cent) of Tottenham fans also went for 4-4-2 and the more attacking 4-3-3 was also 2nd choice, this time by just 17 per cent.
Goalkeeper: De Gea a comfortable first choice, but Lloris doesn’t rest so easy
Fans of both did not go for any surprises in goal, with both team’s regular number 1 selected for duty. David De Gea in for Man United with a stirring 94 per cent rating, making him jointly the club’s 2nd-most popular player for this match.
73 per cent of Spurs fans went for Hugo Lloris between the posts, with a full quarter (25 per cent) picking Brad Friedel to start. Both real-life manager’s agreed with fans, going for the identical options between the posts.
Defence: United fans have one clear favourite; Spurs are more even
Patrice Evra was clearly United’s most popular defender and most popular player with MUFC fans, polling a 95 per cent rating for the line-up.
The other three defenders in United’s back four lagged way behind Evra in popularity; Nemanja Vidić next in line on 62 per cent, closely followed by Jonny Evans (also 62 per cent, but with a lower Bench rating) and Chris Smalling (60 per cent) taking up the final spot.
With Younès Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen out injured, Tottenham fans had four pretty clear popular defenders for this match, Kyle Walker the club’s most popular defender and 3rd most popular player, on a 96 per cent rating from fans.
Danny Rose (93 per cent) was just behind Walker, with Vlad Chiricheș next on 83 per cent and Michael Dawson (81 per cent) taking the final position in the back four with fans.
Neither manager made any changes to the fans’ line-up in defence, with all eight players lining up before the starting whistle.
Midfield: Moyes makes one switch to the fans; Spurs fans and Manager in harmony again
This game was played before United signed Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini was out injured, so it was no surprise that Michael Carrick was United’s most popular midfielder, with an impressive 83 per cent rating approval, making him the club’s 4th most popular player.
Tom Cleverley was slightly behind Carrick on 73 per cent, and was closely followed by Antonio Valencia (also 73 per cent, but with a lower Bench rating), with Shinji Kagawa sneaking into fourth-spot, getting the nod from just over half (52 per cent) of United fans.
Spurs faced a difficult injury challenge in midfield, with Paulinho, Andros Townsend and Sandro all out. In their place, the fans had a clear favourite in Christian Eriksen, his perfect 100 per cent rating making him the most popular player on the pitch before the game started, while his opening goal would have done nothing but increase that enthusiasm.
Étienne Capoue was next in line, on 83 per cent, followed by Aaron Lennon (67 per cent) and Moussa Dembélé (56 per cent) just scraping into the midfield four.
Given the injury list, ex-Spurs midfielder Sherwood went for an identical line-up in midfield, while United boss Moyes made a single switch; fielding Adnan Januzaj (51 per cent fan rating) instead of the closely-rated Kagawa.
Forwards: van Persie out; Adebayor in from the cold
By contrast, United had injury worries in the forward line, Robin van Persie missing this game with a hamstring problem. Fan favourite Wayne Rooney led the charge upfront, his 94 per cent rating making him jointly (with De Gea) the club’s 2nd-most popular player for this match.
In the absence of van Persie, Danny Welbeck was the natural second-choice striker for just over half (51 per cent) of United fans, and he rewarded this half with his side’s only goal in what proved to be a disappointing encounter for the hosts.
Both real-life manager’s agreed with fans, going for identical options upfront. Back then, Roberto Soldado was Tottenham Hotspur’s most popular striker and their 2nd most popular player overall, with a staggering 98 per cent rating from THFC fans.
Emmanuel Adebayor, previously been sidelined by former manager Andre Villas-Boas, had been given a new lease of life by Sherwood and the THFC fanbase, 83 per cent of whom selected his for the line-up. He didn’t disappoint on this occasion, scoring the opening goal in a thrilling display for the visitors and ensuring that Spurs’ march towards the fourth Champions League spot continued in force.
Fan-selected lineup, bench, not selected ratings for Man United vs. Tottenham 2013-14 EPL Season: