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Preview: United to continue winning run against Spurs; banter between manager with penalties and goalpost measuring

Manchester United -v- Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday 4 October 2020, KO 16:30 BST

Referee: Anthony Taylor Assistants: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn

Fourth Official: Craig Pawson

VAR: Stuart Attwell Assistant VAR: Stephen Child

Manchester United will be back in Premier League action on Sunday afternoon when they entertain Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in their second home match of the season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have turned a poor start to the season into a positive with wins in their last three matches following their opening day defeat to Crystal Palace. United will be seeking to get another three points on the board against Jose Mourinho’s Spurs side, who are in good form after playing in the qualification rounds of the UEFA Europa League, although they could be tired after having played four matches in eight days.

Over the past week or so, there has been some banter between Solskjaer and Mourinho which was started following United’s victory over Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League last week after Brighton levelled the score in added time only for United to win a penalty after the final whistle, awarded by VAR for a Neal Maupay hand ball inside the box. Solskjaer, speaking about the victory, told talkSPORT:

“We got away with one, to be fair. When they equalised I thought that’s two points lost. Maybe one point was what we deserved – I don’t think we deserved more but the character we showed deserved more.”

Solskjaer then spoke about the fact that Brighton hit the frame of the goal five times with the Norwegian jokingly saying:

“We have to be grateful Jose (Mourinho) is not here to measure the goalposts, it might have been smaller goals!”

Mourinho hit back regarding the number of penalties that United have won over the past season, including their winning penalty against Brighton, seemingly keeping the banter going. Speaking to Sky Sports by reported by talkSPORT, Mourinho said:

“I don’t think he [Solskjaer] will concern himself with the size of the goal but the size of the penalty box. He will not play with an 18 yard box, only 22 yards.”

Solskjaer was asked about Mourinho’s insinuation during his pre-match press conference on Friday regarding the number of penalties that United have been awarded. Instead of stoking the fire before the Old Trafford encounter, Solskjaer, as reported by The Metro, said:

“The rules are as they are in football, aren’t they? I didn’t really think more about that one. It’s more for you and the media. I think it’s important that we have a bit of entertainment as well.

“And Jose throughout the years has given us all some fantastic moments in football both in his press conferences and on the pitch. But as a striker I didn’t mind how big the box was, when I got in there it was just a strike on goal.”

Manchester United: WWWLLL

Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 W, Luton Town 3-0 W, Crystal Palace 3-1 L, Aston Villa 1-0 L (F), Sevilla 2-1 L

Tottenham Hotspur: WWDWWW

Maccabi Haifa 7-2 W, Chelsea 1-1 (5-4) W, Newcastle United 1-1 D, KF Shkënndija 3-1 W, Southampton 5-2 W, Lokomotiv Plovdiv 2-1 W

Top Scorers: Harry Kane has six goal this season but has played more matches then United have. Hueng-min Son has five goals. Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford are United’s top scorers with two goals each.

Manchester United Goals: 2 – Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, 1 – Bruno Fernandes, Donny van de Beek, Mason Greenwood, Own Goal, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay

United seem to have turned their season around after their 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on the opening day of the season. Since then, United have beaten Luton Town 3-0 and Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 and 3-0. Returning to winning ways ahead of the visit of Spurs to Old Trafford in important for Solskjaer’s side. Getting the result against Mourinho’s side will be important and after the North London club have already played three times since Sunday last week, this being their fourth match in eight days, it could pose problems for them with fatigue playing a big part also with the fact their only experienced striker is Harry Kane.

Tottenham Hotspur Goals: 6 – Harry Kane, 5 – Son Heung-min, 2 – Erik Lamela, Giovani Lo Celso, Lucas Moura, 1 – Dele Alli, Tanguy Ndombele

Spurs have not had much of a break between matches this season, this match being their fourth in eight days so the international break could be a welcome break for those players who have not been called up to represent their countries. Spurs are tenth in the league at the time of writing with United in 13th place, however have only played twice this season with Spurs playing three times so far. The North London club has qualified for the UEFA Europa League this season, coming through the qualification rounds and beating Maccabi Haifa 7-2 earlier this week. It will be a stressful time for Spurs but they will be up for upsetting United this weekend.

Team News: Bruno Fernandes and Harry Maguire cold be doubts for United against Spurs. Gareth Bale is out of this match whilst Hueng-min Son looks set to miss it too.

United might have some problem ahead of the visit of Spurs to the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday afternoon. Solskjaer already has Sergio Romero (not available for selection), Phil Jones (knee) and Axel Tuanzebe (ankle/foot) out through injury. Harry Maguire (ankle/foot) and Bruno Fernandes (thigh) are both doubts, although Maguire is said to be 100% ready with Fernandes at 75% and due to be assessed ahead of the match against Spurs. United might well be able to field a fresh team with David De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial all rested from the 3-0 Carabao Cup victory over Brighton.

Spurs manager Mourinho has three problems with injuries ahead of the visit to United. Summer signing Gareth Bale (knee) has been ruled out until after the international break. Giovani Lo Celso (muscular tightness) has a 50/50 chance of being involved against United, possible from he bench and Heung-Min Son (thigh) has a 25% chance of featuring against United at Old Trafford after suffering an injury in this last appearances for his club. Son would be a big miss considering he has scored five goals already this season but Mourinho will be happy with the players that he has at his perusal for this match and will be seeking to take three points away from United.

Predicted Starting XI: Martial, Rashford, Greenwood, Fernandes, Van de Beek, and Pogba to start against Spurs? Bailly to partner Maguire in the centre of defence?

United are in a position whereby some freshness needs to be added to the team this season. Solskjaer has been rotating his squad between the Premier League and the Carabao Cup, which will have got him through to the second international break of the season in good stead. David de Gea seems to be playing Premier League matches with Dean Henderson playing in the Carabao Cup to a good standard. Things might change when the UEFA Champions League starts later this month. Against Spurs, I expect De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood all to be recalled.

Match Prediction: 56 matches played between United and Spurs with United winning 35, drawing 12 and losing just nine. Victory number 36 coming for United?

United have met Spurs a total of 56 times in the Premier League with United winning 35, drawing 12 and losing just nine times. In all those matches, United have scored 94 goals with Spurs scoring 50. United have been awarded seven penalties against Spurs, scoring all of them with Spurs having won no penalties at all. United have kept 28 clean sheets compared to Spurs’ eight. A total of 96 yellow cards were shown to United players with Spurs getting 91. United have had three players sent off in matches against Spurs with the North London club having one player sent off. Based on the previous matches, this fixture will be the biggest of the season so far.

In this fixture last season, played at Old Trafford, United won 2-1 with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring in the sixth minute of the match. However, Dele Alli levelled the score in the 39th minute if the match. United took the lead again in the 49th minute with Rashford scoring from the penalty spot. It was a good win for United. In the last match between the two clubs which was played in June and was the first match back after the coronavirus lockdown, it ended 1-1 with Steven Bergwijn opening the scoring in the 27th minute and United again scoring from the penalty spot in the 81st minute of the match with Bruno Fernandes scoring it.

Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Written by John Walker

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