The eyes of the world will be on North London at tea time on Saturday, as Tottenham host Manchester United. The two managers are already under intense pressure and a loss for either boss could spell the end for them. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the one that needs a performance more, following a humiliating 5-0 defeat to rivals Liverpool. There were some that expected to see him get sacked this week, but he has clung on. Meanwhile, Nuno’s position isn’t as precarious, but there are already a lot of Spurs fans that would like to see a change in the dugout.
Tottenham are in the top six, just two points out of the Champions League places. They are above Arsenal and Manchester United, but the style of play has been sobering for supporters. They have lost four of their nine Premier League matches and a goal difference of -4 indicates the problems at both ends of the pitch. There needs to be greater consistency and this weekend offers an opportunity for Nuno to get a statement win over a rival. Supporters will want to see a great display to match the result.
It is becoming a crisis at Old Trafford following the defeat to Liverpool. Those that have watched their performances closely won’t have been surprised by last Sunday. It was coming, as they had been struggling defensively in every match. The difference between Liverpool and Manchester United was huge, which was damning of Solskjaer’s ability. His critics have always doubted whether he could get the club to compete for major honours. It is becoming clearer by the week that he can’t. A managerial change seems inevitable, but he limps on for the time being. Another disastrous performance this weekend wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
Tottenham have only scored more than one goal in one Premier League match this season.
No team has beaten Tottenham in the Premier League more often than Manchester United. The visitors have won 36 of their meetings.
The amount of space that Manchester United leave for opposition teams to exploit looks tailor made for Son Heung-min. There are few better at scoring goals on the counter attack than the South Korean. His pace and skill when running with the ball makes him a nightmare to defend against. It has been an impressive start to the season for Son, considering the lack of attacking cohesion under Nuno. He is continuing to contribute regularly in a very stale system, showing that he has the quality to stand out in any system. It can even be argued that he is now more important to Tottenham’s season than Harry Kane. This season, he has been far better than his team-mate, but Nuno will know that Spurs are at their best when both are firing. They have an excellent relationship and we could see that this weekend. If Manchester United are as poor this weekend, a Kane through ball to assist Son seems inevitable.
There has been very little for Manchester United fans to get excited about in recent weeks. However, the return of Marcus Rashford has been one positive for supporters. Following his operation, he looks to be moving a lot freer and that makes him a more dangerous player for opposition sides to deal with. His goal against Leicester City showed his ability to time runs in behind a defence, while he showed the multiple threats he has against Atalanta in the Champions League. On another day, he would have scored a hat-trick against the Serie A side. No player emerged from credit against Liverpool, but it does look like this season would be one of progression for the England international. Last season, he contributed 11 goals and nine assists. If he can stay fit, he has a great chance of beating this in the league.
Bryan Gil is a doubt with a hamstring injury. Ryan Sessegnon remains a long term absentee. Dele Alli and Harry Winks are unlikely to feature after being left out of the squad during the week.
Paul Pogba will be suspended, due to his sending off last weekend. Raphael Varane and Anthony Martial are both nearing a return, but they are doubts for this weekend. Solskjaer may choose to make some big changes to the team. Nemanja Matic, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani could be players brought into the side.
It is a very difficult match to predict, as it is hard to be confident about either team playing well enough to win. Manchester United have the better players, but it would be a surprise to see a coherent performance until they change the manager. Last weekend felt like the end of the Solskjaer era and it will be hard for him to come back from that. Meanwhile, Tottenham don’t have the same quality as Liverpool. They haven’t been able to control matches under Nuno. A score draw that helps neither side is the likeliest result.
Tottenham 2-2 Manchester United