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Key Players & Battles: Romelu Lukaku to find form, while Manchester United need to bounce back

Manchester United face Tottenham Hotspur this weekend to bounce back in the Premier League after a shameful loss against Huddersfield. Many issues came to light after that game with Mourinho angry at his players for not showing passion to fight back and win. However, after Tuesday things have changed back again and the game against the London club would be the perfect game to make a statement in the title fight. Manchester City are one step ahead yet, things will definitely not stay the same as Jose expects Paul Pogba to return soon from injury. Tottenham after defeating Liverpool are not in a good form as they were eliminated from Carabao Cup this midweek with the Londoners wasting a 2-0 lead falling down in the second half. As the attention moves to the Premier League, things will be get interesting as two of the best strikers in the country will face each other. However, Harry Kane is currently a doubt for the Saturday’s game.

Key Players: Romelu Lukaku to lead Manchester United’s line as Dele Alli will have the hard job to fill Harry Kane’s boots

Both players currently need to step up their game at the moment. Romelu Lukaku has faced criticism lately after a great start and the last games haven’t been exactly exceptional for the player who is in charge of scoring. On the other side, there is Dele Alli who due to Kane’s possible absence must lead this Spurs side and be able to make them succeed. Facing a blow with Harry Kane in the sidelines, another English must come at Old Trafford and perform. Will it happen? Let’s see.

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Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku started the new Premier League campaign in a perfect form and currently has seven goals in his account and two assists as well. The Belgian has shown some issues in the recent games probably due to an injury he did not have the time to recover from due to International Break causing problems and Lukaku is not that calm lately. His performances haven’t been as great as usual, but this is expected with the amount of games he has played, never saying a word despite the criticism that hit him on the media especially after an episode at Anfield when playing against Liverpool. It was the former Reds’ player Gary Neville who had a few words to say to him and weren’t pleasing at all. However, against Swansea in the Carabao Cup he was rested, given the right time to change mode again and win the battle against Kane, in case the later plays. He cannot be blamed if he is not being served and the problems are coming from that sector as well, so we have to dig deeper and both Mkhitaryan and Mata must be on top in case they will be chosen from Jose Mourinho. At the moment neither is doing good.

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Dele Alli

Apologies for making Harry Kane an absence in Tottenham’s lineup for Saturday but Pochettino has said that it will be difficult for him to return in time. With this being the case, Bamidele Alli may take the stage this time after a fine performance against Liverpool, an opponent Manchester United could not defeat a few weeks ago. Alli stands at three goals and one assist in the Premier League, not at its finest but still a good statistic. His temper is not a good point and doesn’t go in his favour with his reactions in live TV, but tactically speaking, Alli is an asset Tottenham cannot afford to lose. Rumours still go on about a possible transfer in Spain, but nothing concrete so far and Alli is shining at Spurs.

Key Battles: Ander Herrera, Antonio Valencia, and Romelu Lukaku to be the stars on Saturday as United need those three points

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Ander Herrera -v- Dele Alli

While Ander Herrera is struggling to find last season’s form, this is the game he must change for good. Considering last season’s system, in a midfield of three, the balance was reached nicely but with the Spaniard playing with Nemanja Matic it is noticed he struggles creatively and the two players don’t seem to combine very well together. This is seen in the pass range, the number of tackles won and the chances created. Most of the fans agree on something, if he wants to change Jose’s opinion on returning in the three-man midfield again, he must step up, become more like Paul Pogba who offers a lot in the attack while keeps possession well in the midfield not leaving much of a chance for the opponent to move. Ander Herrera will be facing Dele Alli who is in a fine form currently willing to win the game for Spurs. Man marking their most important player will be Herrera’s task this time and United fans might want him to change back into that mode when he had Hazard in his back pocket.

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Antonio Valencia -v- Serge Aurier 

Valencia’s performances have been okay but not outstanding as we would expect. He has raised the bar indeed but being world class means that the fullback must help the team in wide positions and create chances for the strikers. As we have seen so far, Valencia hasn’t quietly done that often this season and the blame cannot be put on Lukaku alone. On the other hand, Aurier has had a fine start to life in the Premier League and has been recently played out of position which could make him face Valencia. The risk was taken, but it worked against Liverpool. Due to the absences, Tottenham has had, the player’s versatility is key and maybe he will play in the midfield. Whether it will work or not, we will get to know this, but the 3-5-2 worked fine for Pochettino’s side on Sunday.

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Romelu Lukaku -v- Hugo Lloris

Four games without scoring, this is indeed an issue for a striker of Lukaku’s range. Tottenham will be a good chance to end the goal drought and on the other side get back to the winning days. Strikers are first in the order to be blamed for not scoring but considering how Mkhitaryan has been playing, who is the one in charge of creating, has been extremely poor, a shadow of that amazing midfield Armenian he was in the first games. Now, Hugo Lloris surely will be waiting for a challenge and both Lukaku and Martial/Rashford will be targeting the French who has conceded six goals so far in the league.

Written by Fabiola Cejku

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