Manchester United v/s Tottenham Hotspur,
Barclays Premier League
Referee – Chris Foy
Kick off – 16: 30 GMT
16.02.1989. Gary Lineker scored the winner for the North London side in a 1-0 win at Old Trafford. This was the last win for Spurs at Old Trafford. Since then they have managed only 4 draws while ending up on the losing side on 18 occasions. With Manchester United not in the best of forms this may be the match that Spurs will be looking to break their hoodoo at the Theatre of Dreams. They have a new manager in charge, Andre Ville Boas who has had a tough time in England thus far. Still not considered to be right man to lead the team, Boas has a long way to go.
Manchester United have not even close to performing to their best this season. Despite that they have been getting the results. The biggest problem has been the midfield area and there seems to be no ending to it. Moussa Dembele, who was wearing Fulham colors the last time he faced United will be lining up again against the Red Devils. He tormented the United midfield that day and the Spurs manager will be hoping he runs the show again. Tom Cleverly and Anderson were on the receiving end that day and probably won’t be the ones facing Dembele again despie both scoring in midweek against Newcastle. Injuries are something that has turned into a familiar figure in the United defense. United have only two fit central midfielders at the moments. Vidic has joined Smalling and Jones on the treatment table. The club captain will be a big miss for United. Antonio Valencia, who has been a consistent performer, has also joined Vidic on the sidelines. With Ashley Young also out through injury the onus will be fall on Nani and Giggs as the out and out wingers. Nani has been going through a bad patch since his contract discussion fell through. One man’s loss is another man’s gain they say. Valencia’s injury could be the turning point in Nani’s season. He prefers the right side and Ferguson will hope that one of his best performers of last season starts delivering. Robin van Persie has been performing brilliantly since his transfer from Arsenal this season. With the return of Rooney, United fans who have been eagerly awaiting the partnership of the two highest scorers of last season may finally get to see them playing together.
Andre Ville Boas, who reputation at Porto took a serious battering while at Chelsea has been trying to rebuild it since moving to manage Chelsea’s London rivals Spurs. The style of play deployed by AVB has yet to really cement its place with the players. Disappointing performances coupled with bad results and the manager’s position at the helm is already in danger. The summer arrivals of Dempsey and Dembele have not yet been the out-of-jail card that the Portuguese was hoping for. There also seems to be player unrest clearly shown in the results. Hugo Lloris, the French no.1 keeper signed from Lyon in the summer seems to be in the wrong books of the manager. Lloris who had a decent game against Lazio was dropped in favor of Friedel and Cudcini. Arguably, one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Lloris like many is perplexed at the treatment Boas has dished out to the Frenchman since arriving from Lyon. Spurs deploy an attacking 4-4-2 formation which Defoe and Mason leading the lines. Despite facing United at home, the manager has made his intent clear that his side won’t be sitting ducks and would attack Ferguson’s men. He will be looking for Dembele to repeat his man of the match against United while playing for Fulham. Central midfield is United’s weakness and Spurs will be looking to exploit that in every way they can.
Manchester United – Injuries have started its ill effect on the United dressing room. The defensive department usually takes the biggest hit and this season it has been no different. Only two central defenders are fit in Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans. Ferguson will be hoping for an injury free run for his side. Evra, who has played an awful lot of games for United in the last few season finally has competition in the form of Buttner. He may still be the first choice left back but Buttner will push him on every turn. On the right side of defense Rafael has no competition currently as Smalling is currently inured. The goalkeeping situation is quite amusing. Lindegaard and De Gea have been rotated without anyone knowing as to who the No. 1 is going to be. Cleverly and Anderson are expected to be on the bench despite of their goal scoring performances against Newcastle. Scholes and Carrick will probably get the nod with Giggs and Nani covering the wings. Rvp might regain his place while Rooney who has recovered from his horrific injury may find a place only on the bench with Kagawa partnering Rooney upfront.
Tottenham Hotspur –AVB is not known for his man management skills and the tantrum surrounding Hugo Lloris is a perfect example. Friedel and Cudcini have both been preffered to Lloris who is clearly frustrated at being left out. Unlike United, Spurs have a relatively clean bill of health. Gallas and Dawson are the first choice centre backs but Caulker has been able to break this partnership with good performances at the back. Walker has made the right back position his own while Vertonghen has performed well since his move in the summer even though he is a natural centre back. Huddlestone and Sigurdsson have been solid in midfield but their partnership may be broken by Dembele who has been a standout performer since arriving in England. Bale and Lennon work brilliantly in tandem at each wing. Both are fast paced and cause havoc on the opposition flanks.
Tottenham – Moussa Dembele – If he does start the match he will be the one United will be need to be wary of him. He ran circles around the United midfield the last time he faced them. AVB will hope he repeats his performance. He is a force in midfield and has amazing body strength. He also likes to get forward and support the strikers. He already has scored for his new club and would love to add to that tally against the Red Devils.
Manchester United – Robin van Persie – With a week’s break, the Dutchman will be looking to spearhead the United attack. He will be a constant threat for Dawson and company. Persie has a knack of scoring and creating against Tottenham. He has scored five goals and also has four assists in the last six home games against the North London club.