Tight clash expected between United and Spurs
Tottenham Hotspur can record their best start to a Premier League season in almost a decade with victory at Old Trafford tonight. However, despite Manchester United’s defeat to Brighton last weekend, they tend to grind out the victory in this fixture. Gregor Kerr previews.
Tottenham Hotspur can go joint top of the Premier League with a win at Old Trafford tonight against a Manchester United side in turmoil. The Red Devils suffered a 3-2 defeat away to Brighton and Hove Albion last Sunday, after an edgy 2-1 win over Leicester City on opening night.
Spurs themselves have been far from convincing but have won their opening two games, after a frustrating summer off the field involved zero incoming transfers and a delayed stadium move.
But if there is a stadium where Spurs struggle then it is Old Trafford. Of their 26 visits to Great Manchester they have left defeated 21 times, more than any other away side at a Premier League ground. The trend was bucked with consecutive victories in 2013 and 2014, though they have failed to match those performances recently.
If previous meetings are anything to go by, goals are unlikely in this meeting. The home side have ran out 1-0 winners the last three times in this fixture, winning the last five with just one goal from Spurs in that time.
Under-fire United manager Jose Mourinho spoke about a need for his side to cut out errors that have been present in recent weeks: “Against Brighton, we made mistakes, we paid for the mistakes and we lost.”, he said.
“I think you look at football in a very pragmatic way, normally you get what you deserve, so if we want to win against a good team against Tottenham, we cannot make mistakes.”
His counterpart Mauricio Pochettino cites Mourinho as an inspiration in management, and insisted he is under just as much pressure in the Spurs’ hot seat: “We feel the same pressure every week. Of course the circumstances during the year is different, but every game we are going to play is like you are under pressure.
“If you perform well, and you win the game, it is a fantastic week. But if you lose and not perform in the way that you expect, the pressure touches you, and we are always under pressure.”
Tottenham’s captain and undisputed first-choice goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is an uncertain pick following his arrest for drink-driving on Friday, with discipline from the club to follow. Dutch goalkeeper Michel Vorm would be expected to deputise should the Frenchman drop out. Harry Winks returned to the side last week following a long-term injury, while Victor Wanyama returned to training this week following a knee injury, while Heung Min-Son remains at the Asian Games.
United could welcome Alexis Sanchez back into the team, who missed last week’s defeat to Brighton due to a groin injury. Nemanja Matic and Antonio Valencia may also be in contention after injuries after training this week. They were joined by new signing Diego Dalot, although he is unlikely to feature.
Both sides will view this as a crucial game if they are to match the early pace set by last season’s champions, Manchester City.