Premier League Match Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United
So, this is it. After a three-month long absence, football finally returns to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this Friday as Jose Mourinho & co. gear up to take on Manchester United in the club’s first Premier League game after the resumption of the 2019/20 campaign.
The season had been put on hold since March due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, Tottenham were in eighth position in the Premier League table, seven points below Chelsea in the fourth place. With nine games left to be played, the club cannot afford even a minor slip-up, if we are to finish in the top four and seal Champions League qualification for next season.
Manchester United, on the other hand, are slightly better placed than us in the race for the top four. Currently fifth in the table, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are three points below Chelsea. They are also in the same boat as us when it comes to UCL qualification, as a small misstep could spell goodbye to their hopes.
Given that there has been no football played in over three months, recent form is unlikely to play a role as much as it will be pretty much a fresh start for each club. However, looking back at our form just before the stoppage doesn’t make for pleasant reading.
Tottenham are winless in the last six fixtures across all competitions, losing five in that run and drawing one. The final fixture before the season was halted saw us get beat 3-0 by RB Leipzig, sealing our elimination from the Champions League. Spurs’ last win came in February in the form of a closely fought 3-2 triumph over Aston Villa.
In comparison, Manchester United were building great steam prior to lockdown as they were on an eleven-game unbeaten run across all competitions, having last lost a game in January against Burnley. Their last game saw them beat LASK 5-0 in the Round of 16 stages of the UEFA Europa League.
However, as mentioned previously, given the long layoff, momentum isn’t going to count to much and they will have to start from the scratch again as well.
Tottenham wins: 52 Manchester United wins: 92 Draws: 48
Tottenham and Manchester United have faced each other once this season – early in the tenure of Mourinho last December. The result did not go in our favour though, as a Marcus Rashford double fired them to a 2-1 win, with Dele Alli scoring for us.
There have been no draws between the two teams in the last 11 meetings in all competitions, with seven wins for United and four for Tottenham.
The big news for us is the return to full fitness of the key quartet of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Moussa Sissoko and Steven Bergwijn. Kane and Sissoko have been out for almost six months with hamstring and knee issues respectively, but will be back on Friday night. Sonny has also fully recovered from his fractured arm.
However, we have been dealt a couple of blows ahead of the game as Dele Alli has been suspended by the FA because of his controversial social media post back in February. Japhet Tanganga will miss out as well due to a suspected stress fracture in his back. And finally, young striker Troy Parrott will also not be involved after having his appendix removed.
Manchester United, too, will welcome a couple of key players back from injury as Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba are fully fit and ready to return to action. The only player who is likely to miss out for the visitors is defender Phil Jones.
However, if reports are to be believed, manager Solskjaer is unlikely to start Pogba on Friday, although Rashford should slot right back into the side.
Hugo Lloris; Serge Aurier, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Ben Davies; Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks, Tanguy Ndombele; Lucas Moura, Harry Kane, Son Heung-min.
David de Gea; Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Brandon Williams; Bruno Fernandes; Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford.
Players to Watch
Goes without saying. Our main man’s back on the field and will be gunning for goals on Friday night as he looks to lead the club to a top four finish. It may not be easy though, as Kane is likely to take a little time to get back into rhythm, having not played for well over six months.
Kane had scored 17 goals this season across all competitions this season prior to his serious hamstring injury. His record against United hasn’t been the best – 2 goals in 11 games. However, given the critical nature of the game, expect the England captain to step up.
In many ways, the Portuguese playmaker has been the catalyst behind Manchester United’s upturn of form since January. Having arrived in the winter transfer window, Bruno Fernandes has already made quite the impact for the Red Devils, scoring three goals and creating four more in 9 games in all competitions.
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Able to score and create goals in equal measure, the Portuguese international will be the Red Devils’ creator-in-chief. Stopping him will be key for Tottenham to come out on top in Friday’s crunch clash.