Sunday 15th March – 16:00 – Old Trafford
Manchester United welcome Tottenham to Old Trafford on Sunday, hoping to give their hopes of a top-four finish a boost with a much-needed three points. Monday’s FA Cup exit at the hands of Arsenal and former fan favourite Danny Welbeck means that Louis van Gaal’s men are free to concentrate on their league commitments, with a top-four finish of paramount importance. They have won their last two league games, beating Sunderland and Newcastle, yet Arsenal’s good form has meant they sit in fourth. Sixth placed Spurs have top-four ambitions of their own, and after their Capital One Cup final defeat and exit from Europe, Mauricio Pochettino’s men can also concentrate on finishing in the top four. They too have won their last couple of games, wins over Swansea and QPR coming either side of their Wembley defeat. Victory at Old Trafford would be Spurs’ third win in a row on a ground United are not used to tasting defeat on, but more importantly, three points on Sunday would see Spurs move level on points with the Red Devils, and blow the top four race wide open.
The Key Battle: Daley Blind vs Christian Eriksen
After experiencing a fine run of form earlier this winter, which saw him net four late league winners, Christian Eriksen’s production has tailed off in recent weeks, having recorded just one assist and no goals over the past eight games across all competitions.
Nevertheless, the creative attacker remains a real danger to the United defence, as he is central to all of Tottenham’s attacks, and his team-mates are always looking to find him as they know he could create something special. Beware of Eriksen from dead ball situations as well.
The Danish international will have to contend with former Ajax teammate and close friend Daley Blind on the afternoon, however, in a match-up which could well end up proving crucial towards the final result.
The Dutch Red Devil has shown his nous for cutting out the final ball since arriving at Old Trafford, playing generally in a holding midfield role, from which he has two goals and one assist this season, as well as helping United get six clean sheets.
With former Spurs man Michael Carrick in line to start, after appearing as a half-time substitute in the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal, Blind should have some much-needed help alongside him for the visit of Mauricio Pochettino’s side, and that just might be enough to help him stamp out Eriksen’s influence, much like the combination of Ramires and Kurt Zouma managed in the recent Capital One Cup final.
- The hosts will be without Angel Di Maria, who serves a one-game ban for his sending off against Arsenal, whilst Jonny Evans continues his ban for
- Striker Robin van Persie is still out with an ankle problem, but midfielder Ashley Young has overcome the leg injury he suffered on Monday.
- Fellow centre back Marcos Rojo is doubtful because of a groin problem, meaning Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are likely to start at the back.
- Head coach Mauricio Pochettino has a fully-fit squad to choose from for the trip to Old Trafford.
- Danny Rose could be recalled at left-back at Ben Davies’ expense, and Mousa Dembele is also pushing for a start.
- Emmanuel Adebayor, Younes Kaboul and Etienne Capoue will be hoping to be included in some capacity having not been involved in a matchday squad since January.
Manchester United wins = 80 / Tottenham wins = 39 / Draws = 43
Last Meeting: Tottenham 0-0 Manchester United (28th December 2014)
United’s pursuit of Chelsea and Manchester City in the Premier League title race was hampered by a frustrating draw at White Hart Lane. The Red Devils created several good chances in the first half, with Juan Mata’s deflected free-kick hitting the post. Home keeper Hugo Lloris also denied Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Ashley Young as Spurs offered little. Tottenham winger Andros Townsend saw two shots easily saved, but the hosts rallied late on with Ryan Mason firing over.
I have decided to start adding info graphics I have made into each preview, using Piktochart. This is a trial, so if you like it, please let me know as they take a lot of time and effort to make. I’ll try and make one every week, but don’t guarantee it!
Stat of the Match
Tottenham are only the third team in the Premier League to enjoy a five-game unbeaten run against United, following Liverpool (2000-2002) and Blackburn (2004-2006).
Where can I watch it?
Sky Sports 1 will be showing the game live on Sunday afternoon from 3:30pm with kick-off half an hour later. The highlights will then be shown on BBC One’s Match of the Day 10:30pm that evening.
My Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
After going out of the FA Cup, Louis van Gaal will rally his troops for this game, but with no van Persie, Di Maria and a weakened defence, the Dutch boss might have to settle for a draw, as Spurs won’t want to fall behind in the race for the top four. I think Wayne Rooney will score for the hosts, with compatriot Harry Kane scoring for the North London side. Two players who could well be lining up for England next to each other later this month.