This is the latest meeting between Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho, since the former replaced the latter as Manchester United manager. There has been a draw and a defeat apiece for the two managers, which makes this weekend’s meeting an intriguing affair. Tottenham should be fresher than their opposition as they are now out of European competition, while Manchester United have played twice since Spurs last stepped on a football pitch. That said, the recent performances have been a worry for Spurs’ supporters and if they don’t improve, they will struggle to match their top-six rivals.
Tottenham are still in the top four race and they will need to qualify for next season’s Champions League to relieve pressure on Mourinho. Despite their Carabao Cup final place, their season will be judged on where they finish in the league. At the time of writing, they are three points below West Ham, who are currently in the top four, albeit Spurs have a superior goal difference. Despite this, Mourinho won’t see the Hammers as his main rivals, as Chelsea and Liverpool are also gunning for that final qualification place. There is little margin for error for the North London club, which means they need to be approaching this weekend’s match as one they need to win.
Manchester United could still be pulled back by the teams below them, but they should have enough to finish in the top four, as they are currently nine points clear of Chelsea in 5th. Their victory over Granada with two away goals gives them a comfortable position in their Europa League quarter final. This will allow Solskjaer to play a stronger team against Tottenham. There will be desire to beat Spurs, after the embarrassing defeat they suffered at Old Trafford. That result forced a change in approach from the Norwegian in big matches, as he now prefers to set up defensively. Tottenham’s defensive frailties means that he can afford to take the hand brake off and attack on Sunday.
Tottenham have lost nine Premier League matches this season. Jose Mourinho has never lost ten games in the same league season in his managerial career.
Manchester United are currently unbeaten away from home in the Premier League. No other team in Europe’s top five leagues has managed to avoid defeat on the road.
Despite the poor team performances, Harry Kane has continued to thrive and he is set for his best ever season. He looks set to reach 20 in the Premier League for the first time since 2017/18. Further to his goal-scoring prowess, he is currently the leading player for assists with 13. It would be a remarkable feat for Kane to finish the season to be leading in both goals and assists. That is why many consider him as the main candidate to win the PFA Player of the Year award. Jose Mourinho is lucky to have Kane in his ranks this season. Without him, they would be a long way from the top four. Last weekend, he scored twice in a poor Tottenham performance, showing that he is consistent even if the rest of the side are faltering. Manchester United have been an opposition that Kane has struggled against in the past, as he has just four goals and two assists in 14 appearances against the Red Devils. He doubled his tally in the first meeting this season, with two goals and an assist. The England captain will be hoping that his fortunes have now changed and he can have a similar impact on Sunday.
One of Kane’s main competitors for the PFA Player of the Year award will be Bruno Fernandes. The Manchester United attacker has been one of the most consistent players in the league this season with 16 goals and 11 assists. Like Kane, he has had a huge impact on Manchester United’s position in the league table. Without their Portuguese talisman, they would likely be in a similar position to Tottenham and be in the fight for a top four finish. The next step will be for the team to match Fernandes’ performances and push for major honours. This is why this weekend is an important match for the visitors. They need to show that they can play positively against other top-six teams. Fernandes will be key. He has the quality to be the standout player in any fixture and he will want to perform to that level against Spurs.
Toby Alderweireld and Serge Aurier should be available again for the home side, but Matt Doherty and Ben Davies remain on the treatment table.
Luke Shaw should be available, despite being taken off with a knock during the Europa League win over Granada. Anthony Martial won’t be in the squad, as he is likely to miss the rest of the season.
Tottenham’s recent performances have done little to inspire confidence. They may be well rested ahead of the match against Manchester United, but they seem to be trending downwards. The visitors will be keen to get revenge for the embarrassment they suffered at Old Trafford and they should have the attacking quality to get the three points.
Tottenham 1-2 Manchester United