Manchester United return to Premier League action on Saturday evening as they travel to face Tottenham Hotspur at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under severe pressure at this time following the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday. United have been poor recently, losing to Aston Villa, Leicester City and Liverpool in the league, and drawing with Everton. United have only beaten Villarreal and Atalanta – both in the UEFA Champions League since they beat West Ham United in the league back in September. United need to find a way out of this poor form whilst they can still make amends.
Spurs have not started the season in style with Harry Kane in poor form, even though he has played most matches since him move to Manchester City fell through, plus he has played for England and based on his individual performances, he should be dropped – but seems untouchable. Spurs have been fragile, despite having much better form, based on results, winning four matches and losing twice. Solskjaer might be at rock bottom at this time but he has the squad to turn this around, which could see them rise ahead of Spurs, with a victory ahead of a tough run of matches lying in wait. Come on United!
Previous meetings with Tottenham Hotspur and their connections with Manchester United.
United and Spurs have met a total of 58 times in the history of the Premier League with both teams playing in the league since it started. United have won a total of 36 times, drawing 12 times with Spurs winning the remaining 10 matches. United have scored 98 goals, winning eight penalties and scoring all of them. Spurs have scored 57 goals, winning one penalties and scoring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets with Spurs keeping eight. United players have been shown a total of 103 yellow cards and four red cards with Spurs players being shown 93 yellow cards and one red card. This needs to be a comeback for United.
Jack Hall, Jimmy Brown, Garth Crooks, Alan Brazil, Terry Gibson, Chris McGrath, Fraizer Campbell, Chris Jones and Zeki Fryers have all played for both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. More recently though there are treble winner Teddy Sheringham, who made 153 appearances, scoring 46 goals and 28 assists, two-time Premier League winner Dimitar Berbatov, who made 149 appearances, scoring 56 goals and 27 assists and winner of seven or the eight honours United have contested, Michael Carrick, who made 464 appearances, scoring 24 goals and 37 appearances. He is now one of the coached for the first team.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday evening…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea has been in good form this season. Most of the goals that have been conceded this season were not all errors of his, which is something that seemed regular last season. He has been the payer carrying the team this season and if it was not for him, United could have lost some of the matches in which they have won recently. United have a good squad but the form is not there right now and many so-called supporters on Twitter have put that on the manager. United’s form changed when Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho and good players don’t just perform poorly overnight. There will be another explanation.
However, you will not find any other explanation that ‘Solskjaer is the problem’ on Twitter as it seems to be overrun by so-called fans who don’t care about the club and will just throw disrespect at anyone who tried to defend the manager. Granted, Solskjaer has let this happen and the tactics have been down to him, but it is all something that can be sorted out in time. However, these so-called fans on Twitter don’t want to give any time as the agenda they have built needs to be right for them, otherwise it will be well known that they were not proper fans after all. It seems funny that the majority of match-going fans back the manager!
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles
The defence is an area of problems right now. 11 conceded goals in the last three matches gives much room for improvement and it was the captain’s poor performances which was really letting the side down. Now that Raphael Varane is back in training, hopefully he should be ready to get back into action with United still facing some important fixtures over the next week or so. Aaron Wan-Bissaka will keep his place at right-back as Diogo Dalot has not really proven himself in the position. At left-back, Alex Telles should be given an opportunity to fit himself into the team seeing as Luke Shaw’s performances have suffered recently.
Providing that Varane is fit, he should start this match with Harry Maguire in the centre of the defence. Hopefully the Frenchman can help raise the game of the captain which could stabilise the United defence, which is something that needs to happen sooner rather than later. If Maguire is still terrible, perhaps the captaincy is the most pressure on him, so perhaps that should all change. It is early days to appropriate blame right now and things need to be tried in order to find a solution. Sooner or later, one needs to be found in order for United to turn a corner and get back to winning ways in the form we know they are capable of.
Defensive Midfield: Nemanja Matic
Nemanja Matic is the only defensive midfielder at the club who offers experience. Scott McTominay and Fred have not been the answer to any of the problems at the club and the duo have hardly shown how undroppable they have been. With a great midfielder at the club in the future, the duo would not really feature in many matches other than the rotation ones. Matic might be getting older and may not be able to put in the performances in week in and week out but he is the most able player in this position as long as other players on the pitch are doing the running.
The Serbian midfielder has a good eye for playing the ball forward and without him having to cover much of the pitch, the likes of Rashford, Van de Beek, Fernandes and Sancho could do all that for him, aiming to supply Cavani who should be leading the line in this match. Of course, with the substitutes available, Solskjaer could change the game at any given time, as long as United are a few goals up, the formation could be changed in-game, which would be some good management, rather than leaving the substitutes so late and rueing the lack of opportunities, which has been the case in the past. Solskjaer has this chance to reduce the pressure on him.
Attacking Midfield: Jadon Sancho, Donny van de Beek, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford
Playing in a 4-1-4-1 formation will give United Matic to play in front of the defence, giving four players the freedom to assist the attack, when on the ball. In the moments when Spurs are attacking, the wide players could close down the wide players on the opposition with the central players, helping to defend. Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford should be the wide players, as both are very talented and despite Sancho not yet scoring or assisting, he needs to be given sufficient chances to further his career at the Old Trafford club. If Solskjaer trusts these players, he could find the key to unlocking the solution for the club.
In the middle of these four attacking positions, Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek should be given the chance to show what they can do together on the pitch. The Dutchman had a great time at Ajax and he is an able player. Solskjaer has not trusted him and perhaps the manager should let him play football. I would rather see him than Pogba, as despite his seven assists this season, he has offered little going forward and let his team down against Liverpool, especially with that smile after he was sent off. No respect given means no respect offered. This could be a great formation for this United team to show themselves again.
Forwards: Jadon Sancho, Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford
United’s attacking line needs a few tweaks here and they to get the best out of the team. Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line has not really worked out in the last few matches, despite him scoring the winner against Atalanta. Solskjaer needs to find the strengths of his team in this area and have them playing to their strengths. I think Jadon Sancho should be given a chance to shine. United should be determined to hit back hard against Spurs, not only thinking about that 5-0 defeat to Liverpool, but the 6-1 defeat at the hands of Spurs last season. Sancho is a player that has bags of talent but people seem to be writing him off as a fraud.
It is probably the same people that tweeted incessantly throughout 2020, moaning about not signing Sancho and stating that he was the missing link to this team. The same people are suggesting that Solskjaer is not the right manager and Antonio Conte is. I would worry about their opinions. Marcus Rashford should playing on the left-wing, as I feel he seems determined to overcome Sunday’s defeat and help get United moving forward. Edinson Cavani should lead the line as I feel he could be the missing link in this attack. From there, having the Uruguayan in some kind of form, it could be an option to have him and Ronaldo leading the attack.
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw; Jesse Lingard, Fred, Scott McTominay; Cristiano Ronaldo, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood
The substitutes against Spurs will need to be right. Bringing on Paul Pogba against Liverpool, at 3-0 down was nothing more than a disaster and for that reason, the Frenchman should not be playing a part in any matches for the foreseeable future, unless there are injuries, with respect to next week’s Champions League clash with Atalanta. Dean Henderson will remain on the bench. It does not look like he will get much football at this time, unless it is U23 football. In defence, Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw should be available if needed with the latter benched to give Telles a chance to get stuck in for United. A change is always good for the soul.
In midfield, Jesse Lingard, Fred, and Scott McTominay should be available with Solskjaer needing to change things up and not stick with the players that have continually let him down, giving players with an opportunity to prove themselves, especially in the case of Van de Beek. In attack, which is United’s major strength this season, despite that no really being shown recently, Cristiano Ronaldo, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood will be available. Things need to change and I feel this could work. I would like to see two strikers playing at he same time but with Cavani and Ronaldo so similar, it might take something big to make it work.
Written by John Walker