The Premier League is finally back, albeit in strange circumstances without supporters in the stadium. All eyes will be on the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday night, as Manchester United are the visitors. Both sides are looking to finish in the top four following the restart. For Spurs, they really need to get a positive result in the first match back, as defeat will see them fall seven points behind their opponents. In the earlier meeting of the two sides, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer triumped over Jose Mourinho by a 2-1 scoreline.
Jose Mourinho needs to have a positive end to the campaign following some poor results before the stoppage. Tottenham failed to win in their last six matches across all competitions, which increased the pressure on the Portuguese coach. In the majority of his club jobs, he has found immediate success, but he will attribute some of his struggles to taking over mid-season. This Friday will see the added motivation of getting one over on his former club. It would be a humbling experience if Solskjaer managed to do the double over him.
Manchester United are favoured by many to finish in the top four, with a relatively kind run-in following the match this Friday. Before the stoppage, they were in great form, with their last defeat coming in January. Unlike many in the Premier League, they have had experience playing behind closed doors and that experience will put them at an advantage. The returns of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford means that they will be an even more dangerous proposition than they were before the Covid-19 enforced break.
Tottenham have managed to win three of their last Premier League home matches against Manchester United.
Manchester United only conceded twice in their last ten matches before the break.
Tottenham’s small hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League have been given a huge boost with the return of a number of key players. Harry Kane will be the player that Mourinho is hoping can save their season. The influential striker has emerged as one of the world’s most reliable goal-scorers since he break onto the scene. In an injury-hit campaign, he has managed to contribute 11 goals and two assists in the Premier League, with a goal involvement every 136.9 minutes. There are some that believe that his problems have resulted in a decline in performance, but he will see the run-in as an opportunity to show that he remains one of the league’s best. His record against Manchester United hasn’t been the best historically, with only two goals and one assist in 11 appearances. This, coupled with the criticism he has faced, will drive him on to perform on Friday night. The stage is set for him to re-announce himself in the 2019/20 campaign. The stoppage came at a good time for the 26-year-old and he now has an opportunity that he wouldn’t have. Spurs’ supporters will be hoping that he grabs it with both hands.
Marcus Rashford has been the toast of the nation this week, following his successful lobbying to get the government to reverse their decision to stop food vouchers being given to families with children eligible for free school dinners. There won’t be a rival fan that has a bad word to say about the England international. However, he will now be focused on getting back to full fitness and contributing on the pitch. It was feared that his campaign would be over due to a back injury, but he will be fit to play a part in the rest of the campaign. Like Kane, he has been helped by the stoppage. In the earlier meeting of these two sides, Rashford was the match-winner with a brace. Throughout the campaign, he has contributed 14 goals and four assists, with a goal involvement every 104.6 minutes. This is going to be his best goal-scoring season and he has the ability to play another match-winning role on Friday night.
Dele Alli has been suspended for this match due to a social media misconduct charge. Son Heung-min and Harry Kane are available once again, which will increase the goal threat in the team. Japhet Tanganga and Troy Parrott will be unavailable for the home side.
Phil Jones has a knock and he will be a doubt for this Friday. Paul Pogba is back for the visitors, but he is expected to start on the bench.
It is difficult to predict the matches this weekend, as it has been months since each side has kicked a ball. The form book goes out of the window. Both Spurs and Manchester United will be boosted by the return of key players. This should be a great match to watch, with exciting attacking players on either side. An entertaining score draw could be a good bet and it would give a good starting point for both teams to start their Champions League challenge.
Tottenham 2-2 Manchester United