Manchester United vs Tottenham Preview | Team News, Stats & Key Men

Manchester United vs Tottenham Preview | Team News, Stats & Key Men

This match is huge in terms of top four qualification, especially for Spurs, as they need a positive result if they are to be considered in contention alongside Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. Meanwhile for the hosts, they will be keen to get a win after disappointingly being knocked out of the FA Cup at Old Trafford by Arsenal. They were outplayed in their own stadium, by a side who hadn’t won there in a long time. This weekend they are facing a side who have won at Old Trafford in the last two seasons and who will come to Manchester with a lot of confidence due to that. It will be an intriguing game that will have big ramifications for the race for Champions League football.

Manchester United have been unspectacular this season, but they have ground out results to give them a fighting chance of returning to Europe’s top table. The difference between Louis van Gaal and David Moyes has been the former’s ability to get enough points on the board with an average United side. Although people will point to the amount of money invested, the squad still has major flaws, especially in defence and that has slowed them down this season, as was evident on Monday as both Arsenal goals were due to poor defending. The style of play is slowly evolving as they do pass the ball out of defence more than they used to. The presence of Marouane Fellaini can be more of a hindrance at times as it is appealing to play long balls to him in the air, and this must be something for Van Gaal to address.

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Tottenham were looking like they were going to have a good season a few weeks ago. However elimination from the Europa League, losing the Capital One Cup final and disappointing results against Liverpool and West Ham has seen their season start to drift. It is imperative that they finish the league season strongly and challenge the top four. Although people aren’t taking Tottenham as serious Champions League contenders, they are just four points away from Arsenal in third and a win against Manchester United on Sunday will see them go level on points with their hosts. They could build some serious momentum over the coming weeks with fixtures against Leicester, Burnley and Aston Villa to come.

In their previous meeting this season, it was a goalless draw and it was an even game with both sides having nine shots over the ninety minutes. Both sides will have to be more attacking this weekend as a win would be very important for either side. Although another draw wouldn’t be terrible, it would see confidence continue to fall which wouldn’t be good with the run in approaching. In the corresponding fixture last season, Spurs took the three points with a 2-1 win. Emmanuel Adebayor and Christian Eriksen scored the goals, while Danny Welbeck scored for the hosts.

Team News

Angel di Maria and Johnny Evans are both suspended for the home side which will be a blow. Phil Jones is set to make the step up to start this weekend after a poor team defensive performance against Arsenal. Robin van Persie is out for at least another three weeks, while Ashley Young is a doubt with a knock. Falcao’s future is uncertain after turning out for the reserves in the week.

Tottenham are in the perfect position with a fully fit squad and only one competition to focus on. Erik Lamela and Moussa Dembele are pushing for first team recalls after coming on as substitutes against QPR. Danny Rose is another player who could come back in this weekend.

Interesting Stats

Manchester United have won five of their last seven league matches, which highlights that their form isn’t as bad as it is being portrayed in some sections of the media.

Four of Tottenham’s last five league wins have only been by a one goal margin, which shows that they struggle to kill games off and often rely on late goals.

Key Men

Rooney

Wayne Rooney is central to Manchester United’s top four hopes. The club desperately need to finish in the top four or it will be another poor season after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. Although he is getting older, Rooney is still one of the best players in the league and he is certainly a lot more consistent then he was in his younger years. This season he has played a number of positions, but it appears that he will be playing in his favoured position up front for the remainder of the campaign and that could be the decision that sees Champions League football return to Old Trafford. It is undeniable that Wayne Rooney guarantees goals when he plays as a striker, as his movement, reading of the game and finishing abilities are as good as anybody in the sport. His goal in the FA Cup against Arsenal showed his quality as he put away a glorious header to level the scores. If he is given good service over the remaining ten matches, he will score goals and that is something that Robin van Persie and Falcao haven’t done as much as they would have liked this season. Rooney is particularly dangerous in big matches and this Sunday’s fixture registers as that. Spurs will be wary of the England captain as he has the ability to score anywhere in the final third.

Kane

While Wayne Rooney has carried the hopes of the nation for the last decade, Harry Kane could be the next striker off the ranks in England as he has shown both quality and consistency over his breakthrough campaign. He has scored 16 league goals this season in 24 matches, which is an extraordinary record for a player who is just 21 years old with little experience before this season. Tottenham have struggled to find a consistent goalscorer over the last decade and it has been one of the main reasons they have never established themselves in the top four, but they have produced one through their academy which is priceless, as strikers are the most expensive commodities in the game. Although Kane is tender in years, he is the player towards who many of his team-mates look towards for inspiration and he is a leader on the pitch. It’s still early to effectively rate Kane as a player, and it will be until he gets two or three years of consistent top level football under his belt, but it is very encouraging for Spurs and England supporters.

Verdict

It’s going to be a nervy match as neither side can really afford to lose. For that reason, I predict that there won’t be many goals, despite neither side having a great defence as they will both be cautious when attacking. Spurs have less pressure on them this weekend and that could be a telling factor. Manchester United have looked very poor in recent weeks and it took a horrendous mistake for them to get the three points at Newcastle in their last Premier League outing. Spurs have the quality in their side to get a goal and I’m not sure Manchester United have that much going for them in the attacking third at the moment. They have been relying on Marouane Fellaini to make things happen which is very worrying for a side that used to blow sides away.

Manchester United 0-1 Tottenham

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