The headline fixture of the weekend for many is Manchester United’s home match against Tottenham. Jose Mourinho will be returning to Old Trafford and he will be desperate to register his first victory over the club since his departure. Last season in this fixture, the home side took the three points and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be confident of a similar result. Since United’s last Premier League match, Spurs have played three times. Fatigue could have a part to play on Sunday.
The first two Premier League matches have been underwhelming for Manchester United. They were outplayed in both matches against teams that finished last season in the bottom half. There needs to be a significant improvement in performance on Sunday against a rival for Champions League qualification. Considering the recent criticism directed at Solskjaer, it would be a big personal victory if he managed to beat the manager that he replaced at Old Trafford. A lot will be learned about United on Sunday.
Tottenham have faced a hectic schedule to open the season. A return of four points, Europa League qualification and a place in the Carabao Cup quarter finals will be seen as a success for Mourinho. It is now important that they can get an early victory over a rival club and move closer to the leading pack. Mourinho will always have a preference for focusing on cup competitions, especially as Spurs are unlikely to challenge for the league title. However, they must remain in touching distance of the leaders and challenge for the top four. This fixture will be crucial in establishing the club as a force to be reckoned with under the Portuguese coach.
In the last 14 Premier League matches between the two clubs at Old Trafford, there hasn’t been a single draw.
Jose Mourinho has only lost three times across 23 fixtures against Manchester United. All three defeats came at Old Trafford.
The Frenchman has yet to find his form at the beginning of the new season, but he could have some luck against Tottenham. Despite some improvement, Spurs are not yet reliable at the back and there could be space for Martial to move into. This is especially true down the right hand side as Matt Doherty likes to push high up the pitch. There is another angle to the game as the forward didn’t get on well with Mourinho during their time together at Old Trafford. He may feel like he has a point to prove and that makes him a big threat, even if he doesn’t have the form behind him.
It has been an excellent start to the season for Kane, even if he hasn’t been scoring as much as he would have liked. The England captain has contributed a goal and five assists already this campaign. He is the current leader in assists in the Premier League. Although he will want to add more goals, he will be delighted to be creating chances for others. In the current Spurs team, they will look to get players close to Kane and running beyond him, which will suit the striker. This weekend, he will be facing a Manchester United team that have been shaky at the back. He should have enough space to inflict some real damage.
There aren’t many injury concerns for Solskjaer to contend with at the moment. There were worries about Harry Maguire, but he should be passed fit to start. It is expected that it will be an unchanged team from last weekends victory over Brighton in the Premier League.
Son Heung-min is a major doubt for Tottenham. Mourinho hasn’t ruled him out, but it would be a surprise if he started against Manchester United. Giovani Lo Celso is also a doubt. Dele Alli could be set for a return to the Premier League squad following an impressive showing in the Europa League.
This is a huge game for both managers. Solskjaer needs to oversee a much better performance than the last two weeks, otherwise the pressure on him could increase over the international break. Meanwhile, Mourinho is still in the process of winning over the Tottenham supporters. The two cup victories have provided encouragement, but the team must now back this up in the league. A win for either side would be huge. Spurs will be suffering from fatigue, but they have a better manager who will be desperate to get a good result. They could spring a surprise win on Sunday.
Manchester United 1-2 Tottenham