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Tactical Analysis: A Game of Two Halves – Tottenham Hotspur 1-3 Manchester United

Manchester United gained an important three points against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, in a game which typified both teams’ campaigns this season. United prior to the game had amassed an impressive 28 points from losing positions and extended their impressive unbeaten away run, whereas Spurs failed to win after leading at the interval for the seventh time. What seems to have gone under the radar, is the tactical switch Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made at half time which changed his sides’ fortunes.

In what was a fairly uneventful first half an hour, Jose Mourinho will feel he had a slight tactical advantage as the game began to unfold. Marcus Rashford started on the right with Paul Pogba occupying the left, an immediate small win for Mourinho as his Spurs side no longer had to worry about Rashford’s dangerous “out to in” run in behind. Without Rashford to properly threaten the space in behind, Spurs managed to nullify United’s build up by adopting the setup below.

There are several keys here. Firstly, Spurs are marking the United midfielders’ man for man. Scott McTominay and Fred are both susceptible to poor touches under pressure and Mourinho wanted his two central midfielders tight to them, to either capitalise on any mistakes or eliminate them as an option. Pierre Hojbjerg would then man mark Bruno Fernandes. In addition, note Harry Kane’s position as he splits the two central defenders. Spurs are happy for Lindelof to have to ball here, as they are effectively limiting his options to just Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Again, Mourinho knows Wan-Bissaka is arguably United’s weakest player in possession and Son continuously applied intense pressure as soon as Wan-Bissaka received the ball, as illustrated below.

For the first half an hour, this pattern of play happened regularly when United had possession in their own half. The game plan in possession seemed to centre around avoiding giving Spurs any turnovers in possession in dangerous areas and looking for long balls into Pogba, who had a significant height advantage over Serge Aurier. 

The United game plan out of possession, was to get tight to the Spurs front three to either win possession or keep them with their backs to goal. Solskjaer understood the importance of minimising the link up between Son and Kane specifically and the example below was another common theme throughout the first half. 

However, Spurs whole game plan in possession was understandably to find ways to get the ball into Harry Kane and ultimately led to the first goal. 

At half time, Solskjaer made a crucial tactical tweak by changing to a diamond set up, which allowed United to completely control the second half and ultimately win the game. Firstly, Pogba came central which nullified Spurs’ man to man stronghold in midfield as they were now overloaded. There are several examples below where Lo Celso did not know whether to press or whether to sit next to Hojbjerg in a 4-2-3-1.

Secondly, McTominay began to drop into defence to allow Wan-Bissaka to get further forward as highlighted here. 

With McTominay dropping between Lindelof and Wan-Bissaka, it either allowed him to either get time in possession or draw a Spurs midfielder out with him, leaving more space in the centre for United to exploit. This also solved United’s first half issue of Wan-Bissaka being trapped on the touchline by Son, as he began to position himself further up the field towards Reguilon. Luke Shaw also became more involved in the game, as Spurs were unable to restrict United to the right-hand side of the pitch like they did in the first half. 

As a result of the tactical tweaks, United began to play with more intensity. The passing became quicker, the rotations in midfield became more frequent and they started to apply a full press on Spurs, cementing themselves in the opposition half. Subsequently, United were able to create frequent goalscoring opportunities which led to three very well worked goals. The goals themselves all included individual class, but they were also a perfect example of how the right set up allows players to flourish. The first half setup was all about containing the opposition and United suffered in possession. Once Solskjaer adapted his tactics, United took control of the game and Spurs never really recovered.

Written by Chris Greening

Ratings: Henderson, Fred, Pogba, Cavani and Greenwood perform well in Spurs win but the MOTM will be between Pogba and Greenwood

Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on the Premier League. Edinson Cavani opened the scoring in the 33rd minute of the match but it was ruled out after Scott McTominay was adjudged to have fouled Son Heung-Min in the build up. Son then put Spurs ahead before the end of the first half. United attempted to get back into the game, that coming in the 57th minute when Fred found the back of the net after Cavani’s effort was parried out. Cavani then put United ahead in the 79th minute of the match, getting his eighth goal of the season. Mason Greenwood finished the victory with a late goal.

It was a fairly fair start to the clash with both teams seeking to get something early on but you could see which team had a week’s rest and which team was playing three days ago. Both United and Spurs were working hard to get a good start to the match, which should bring out the determination of United to get revenge over the club that beat them 6-1 at Old Trafford earlier in the season. Scott McTominay was the first player to be booked, getting a yellow card in the 18th minute of the match. United needed to work a lot harder and Fred needed to find some form, as he was well out of canter in the early stages of the half.

United took the lead in the 33rd minute of the match after Paul Pogba played a great pass into the box with Edinson Cavani breaking through and beating Hugo Lloris at close-range. However, there was appeals for the referee to look into the goal as McTominay had supposedly fouled Son Heung-Min in the build up to the goal. VAR was brought in with the referee watching on the screen and he ruled the goal out for a foul. It seems that Son was touched on the chin and went down holding the upper part of his face, seconds after trying to grab McTominay’s shirt to impede him. There was a cloud over the first match with Erik Lamela and a cloud today.

Spurs took the lead in the 40th minute of the match, breaking forward at pace with Lucas Moura on the ball and seemingly likely to try his shot on goal, however, he crossed the ball into Son, who beat Dean Henderson to put his side 1-0 up with five minutes and added time to play before the half time break. Cavani was clearly not happy that his goal had been ruled out and he was aiming to get in the box again, but got booked himself in the 42nd minute of the match after an argument with Joe Rodon, who went down easily. You can see the Jose Mourinho in this team which is not really a compliment. United needed to try harder in the second half.

There were no changes for either team during the half time break. The game continued how it ended with United aiming to get level but not able to penetrate Spurs early doors. Fred was booked within three minutes of the restart, which just shows how little impact he has been having recently. His work rate is what gets him picked but he needs to be doing a lot more. As that was being written, Fred equalised for United after Cavani’s effort on goal was parried by Lloris and Fred was there to bang the rebound into the back of the net and give United a lot more to play for. It just shows that if you have to cheat to get ahead, it’s not going to last.

United had some good opportunities after Fred’s equaliser with Bruno Fernandes forcing a save from Lloris and United having a second go minute later. Luke Shaw became the fourth United player to be booked in the match for a foul, of which he has no complaint. Minutes later, Harry Maguire became the fifth player to be booked in this match which puts him closer to a two-match suspension. Solskjaer made his first substitution in the 72nd minute of the match with Mason Greenwood replacing Marcus Rashford. United should be doing a lot more than they have been doing to get ahead, which is the position they should rightfully be in anyway.

United took the lead in the 79th minute of the match and Cavani got his eighth goal of the season, assisted by Greenwood, who had been on the pitch for seven minutes or so. It was a great goal which garnered a loud celebration from the United players, who will feel robbed from the first goal of the game being disallowed. Spurs won’t feel to happy though, but it was their fault they were in this position. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In the final minutes of the match, the referee continued to side with Spurs when they were fouling United players, which is how the match started anyway.

At the turn of the 90th minute, Solskjaer made his second substitution with Nemanja Matic replacing Bruno Fernandes, who did not have a bad game, despite not assisting or scoring any goals. Six minutes of added time were to be played to end the match, which seems a lot of time as there has not been many breaks in play during the second half. Still, that is what United will need to get through in order to end the game, keeping their lead and taking three points back to Manchester with them. I am sure Mourinho will be unhappy about something, but that is only natural, right?

Mason Greenwood scored a third goal for United in added time to win the game comfortably with a 3-1 scoreline. Spurs just did not have enough cheating in their locker to get the better over United, even if the referee did happily book United players throughout the match. United have earned 28 points in the Premier League this season, which shows that corner they have turned and the improvement they have made during Solskjaer’s reign at the club. On to Granada at Old Trafford on Thursday evening now whilst Spurs get used to resting in midweek like all the rest of the small clubs.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Could not have stopped Son from scoring in the 40th minute of the match. Made some good saves at 1-1. Good to see him play in a big game and help United get the win.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Was tasked with pressing high to limit Son, which worked some of the time. United need to be able to switch attacks from the left to the right.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Did not have the best of matches after his great assist on Thursday evening. His positioning for Son's goal was just another reason why United need a new centre-back this summer.

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5 Harry Maguire

Off the space at times but he has not missed a minute of Premier League football since signing for United. Schooled Reguilon verbally at times too, which was good to see. Vocal in the team, especially when Cavani got his goal.

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23 Luke Shaw

Had a bad opening 45 minutes with a slow display. Played a more intense game in the second half. Booked though, which was a shame.

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39 Scott McTominay

Booked in the 18th minute of the match. Adjudged to have fouled Son in the build up to United's disallowed goal. Son tried to grab his shirt, and he swiped back to protect himself. Son went down clutching his face like a cheat.

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17 Fred

Started terribly and seemed more of a void in the first half. When in form he offers something. Got United level, tapping in Cavani's effort with was parried by Lloris. He excitedly celebrated that equaliser. He improved when United were on top.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Still did not look 100%, which some will moan about but if the player, the coaches, the physio and the manager feel he's able to play - he will. Had an impact but got nothing from the game. Replaced by Greenwood in the 72nd minute of the match.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Played a good game for United and was unlucky in the second half as his shot on goal had power and accuracy and resulted in Lloris not being able to hang onto the ball. His passion came out as United got ahead, which should have put them 3-1 up if the first goal was not disallowed. He was replaced by Matic in the 90th minute.

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6 Paul Pogba

Played a brilliant pass into Cavani for the Uruguayan to open the scoring in the 33rd minute of the match, which was disallowed due to McTominay's foul - which was harsh and out of context. Got an assist for Greenwood's late strike.

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21 Edinson Cavani

Scored a great goal in the 33rd minute of the match after being played in by Pogba. It was disallowed though. Got his eighth goal of the season in the 79th minute of the match, putting United 2-1 up and ended that with a loud celebration.

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Substitutes

11 Mason Greenwood

Replaced Rashford 72'. Made an impact as soon as he came on. Got a great assist for Cavani's goal which put United ahead. Got a late goal himself, which was great to see. He's going places is this lad.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Fernandes 90'. Came on late in the game to both run down the clock and add more defensive ability to secure the win. United scored again in added time to cement their lead.

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Goals: Son Hueng-Min 40′; Fred 57′, Edinson Cavani 79′, Mason Greenwood 90+6′

Assists: Lucas Moura 40′; Mason Greenwood 79′, Paul Pogba 90+6′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Rashford (Greenwood 72′), Fernandes (Matic 90′), Pogba; Cavani

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Diallo, Van de Beek

Bookings: Moussa Sissoko 90+2′; Scott McTominay 18′, Edinson Cavani 42′, Fred 48′, Luke Shaw 67′, Harry Maguire 70′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: McTominay, Fred and Pogba in midfield; Cavani and Rashford up top as United look to get revenge over Spurs

Manchester United return to Premier League action the afternoon when they face Tottenham Hotspur at their new stadium three days after beating Granada 2-0 in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg in Spain. Spurs exited the competition in the last round, so will have had the best part of a week’s rest ahead of this match meaning that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side could be at a disadvantage with Jose Mourinho’s squad having extra resting time following United’s return to Manchester in the early hours of Friday morning. United beat Brighton and Hove Albion last week, giving them a four-point cushion over third-placed Leicester City.

Spurs sit in sixth place in the Premier League, 11 points adrift of United, which is some distance considering the Spurs supporters still talk about them beating United 6-1 at Old Trafford earlier in the season – it did not get them far, did it? If Chelsea do not get the upper hand over Crystal Palace, Spurs could be looking to break into the top five and with West Ham United facing Leicester City, a win could give United more breathing space with the Hammers seeking to remain in the top four, which they achieved because of Chelsea losing to West Bromwich Albion last week and them beating Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday evening.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

McTominay, Fred;

Rashford, Fernandes, Pogba;

Cavani

Substitutes:

De Gea; Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Diallo, Matic, Van de Beek; Greenwood

Tottenham Hotspur:

Lloris;

Aurier, Dier, Rodon, Reguilon;

Ndombele, Højbjerg;

Moura, Lo Celso, Son;

Kane

Substitutes:

Hart; Alderweireld, Tanganga; Winks, Lamela, Sissoko, Alli; Bale, Vinicius

United and Spurs have met 57 times in the history of the Premier League, this weekend being the 58th time the two club have met in the English top flight. United have won 35 of the encounters with the two teams drawing 12 times and Spurs beating United just ten times. United have scored 95 times with Spurs scoring 56. United have been awarded eight penalties, scoring all of them with Spurs winning one and scoring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets against Spurs with the North London club keeping eight. United players have been booked 98 times with four red cards. Spurs players have been booked 92 times with one red card.

Earlier in the season, United and Spurs met at Old Trafford in the Premier League which resulted in a 6-1 victory for the North London club. Bruno Fernandes scored a penalty in the second minute but Tanguy Ndombele equalised two minutes later, there was a brace for both Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane with Serge Aurier scoring the other. In this fixture last season, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, it was a 1-1 draw which was also the first fixture played during the first coronavirus lockdown. Steven Bergwijn opened the scoring in the 27th minute with Paul Pogba winning an 81st minute penalty, scored by Bruno Fernandes.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] De Gea to keep his place, Pogba, Fernandes and Rashford to inspire victory over Spurs?

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Sunday when they face Tottenham Hotspur at their new stadium three days after beating Granada 2-0 in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg in Spain. Spurs exited the competition in the last round, so will have had the best part of a week’s rest ahead of this match meaning that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side could be at a disadvantage with Jose Mourinho’s squad having extra resting time following United’s return to Manchester in the early hours of Friday morning. United beat Brighton and Hove Albion in the league last week, giving them a four-point cushion over third-placed Leicester City.

Spurs sit in sixth place in the Premier League, 11 points adrift of United, which is some distance considering the Spurs supporters still talk about them beating United 6-1 at Old Trafford earlier in the season – it did not get them far, did it? If Chelsea do not get the upper hand over Crystal Palace, Spurs could be looking to break into the top five and with West Ham United facing Leicester City, a win could give United more breathing space with the Hammers seeking to remain in the top four, which they achieved because of Chelsea losing to West Bromwich Albion last week and them beating Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday evening.

How United have faired against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.

United and Spurs have met 57 times in the history of the Premier League, this weekend being the 58th time the two club have met in the English top flight. United have won 35 of the encounters with the two teams drawing 12 times and Spurs beating United just ten times. United have scored 95 times with Spurs scoring 56. United have been awarded eight penalties, scoring all of them with Spurs winning one and scoring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets against Spurs with the North London club keeping eight. United players have been booked 98 times with four red cards. Spurs players have been booked 92 times with one red card.

Earlier in the season, United and Spurs met at Old Trafford in the Premier League which resulted in a 6-1 victory for the North London club. Bruno Fernandes scored a penalty in the second minute but Tanguy Ndombele equalised two minutes later, there was a brace for both Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane with Serge Aurier scoring the other. In this fixture last season, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, it was a 1-1 draw which was also the first fixture played during the first coronavirus lockdown. Steven Bergwijn opened the scoring in the 27th minute with Paul Pogba winning an 81st minute penalty, scored by Bruno Fernandes.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday afternoon…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper returned against Granada in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg on Thursday but was not really challenged by the team from his home nation. It was good to see him back after Dean Henderson started the last seven matches, which has given David De Gea something to achieve to get back into the number one spot with the rumours suggesting that Henderson is the clubs number one goalkeeper now. By as Solskjaer says, the media reports and what goes on at the club tend to be two different things, which is probably the case for more things, not just football.

This match against Spurs, with Manchester City losing to Leeds United, is another important match for United and they must win, not just to overcome the demons of the 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford earlier in the season, but to gain some ground in the league this season. Some will say that United are only second because some teams have fallen behind as they don’t want to praise Solskjaer as agendas are better than admitting that they were wrong. United have turned a corner and have been getting better, despite some results this season and a period where United seemed to be stagnant and complacent. De Gea’s return could be good for United.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence has done well this season in the Premier League and have conceded 33 goals so far this season, having conceded 36 last season, which was an improvement on the 54 conceded in the 2018/19 season. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should both keep their places in the fullback positions against Spurs, although I would like to see Wan-Bissaka play a more attacking game, improving on his defensive abilities, which have been rather basic at stages this season. Shaw is continuing to build on good spells this season, which have shown that United were right to stick with him during the tough times.

Victor Lindelof played a brilliant long-ball over the top to Marcus Rashford against Granada to open the scoring for the club in a game that was a bit slow to start. It shows that United have creative players all over the pitch and despite Lindelof being criticised at times for poor decisions, he also has some good ones. Perhaps he is not bad at all? Harry Maguire will be a big player in this match – he will want to undo the damage caused by Spurs at the start of the season, which does not seem to have done much good for the North London club after 30 matches have been played, especially with Jose Mourinho reportedly on the brink, which is media hype.

Midfield: Fred, Paul Pogba

The midfield is an area that needs to be right in order to get United playing well. In the 4-2-3-1 formation, there is usually a pivot in midfield which needs both players at the top of their game, both defensive and offensive. Paul Pogba is a player that will probably keep his place in the team but his partner will need to be the right fit for him. Since he returned from injury, Pogba has scored some important goals but needs to do more on the pitch to get the respect that he is worthy of as a player, but getting rid of his agent will probably get him more respect as a man, as it is clear his agent wants to move him on and Pogba must want the same too.

Fred could be recalled into the team for this match. He has the ability to man-mark and puts a lot of work rate into his game, despite not being an outlet of much creativity or goal threat, his performances are usually something that he is praised for by those who have seen what he can do. However, most recently, his performances have been poor and he will need to stand up in order to be counted against a team like Spurs, who have many good players to devastate United, especially if they to not step up to the place in the midfield. I wonder if a midfield three would be better against Spurs.

Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford

The three players that usually play in this area are responsible for 50 goals and 31 assists so far this season with Bruno Fernandes on 24 goals and 14 assists, Marcus Rashford on 20 goals and 12 assists and Mason Greenwood on six goals and five assists, which is a great return of goals from three players this season. Of course, it will need to get better before the end of the season as United still have a lot of work to do to keep their second-placed position in the Premier League and go all the way in the UEFA Europa League, which is what Solskjaer and his team will want to achieve.

Fernandes is a player that has been overused this season, but he needed to be as there is no other player in the team that offers the same impact. Rashford is in a position whereby his injury has not fully recovered, but if the player said that he was alright to play on and the coaches and the physios at the club said the same, then clearly it is not a problem. Perhaps Rashford will recover at some stage, although with the Euro’s this summer, it does not give him much rest. Greenwood is a player that can give more and perhaps leading the line is not in his bag yet, but it soon will be as he gains more confidence moving forward.

Forwards: Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani has been a let down since he returned Fromm injury and his availability this season has been questionable. It is expected that it will return to South American this summer with nothing yet confirmed about the possibility of him remaining at United for another season. United will need to find a new striker sooner rather than later, so this summer will be a big one for the club, if the ambition above the manager is there, which is something that can be argued at times. Cavani has scored just seven goals this season, adding a further two assists. Not great but at least he has offered something.

Cavani is probably the best striker at the club at this time and he has something for the likes of Rashford and Greenwood to learn from. Anthony Martial too but his poor form this season seems to have ended with a knee injury sustained whilst playing for France, which could have seen him play his last club game for United this season. United need to be more prolific up front as goal win matches. There are many players on the pitch that score goals but Cavani should be a player that gets into double figures, needing three more goals between now and the end of the season for that to be the case. He has the time and determination to do just that.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Amad Diallo, Daniel James, Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek

Solskjaer can name nine substitutes on the bench in the Premier League, using three of those. Granted, he does not make changes all of the time and when he does, it is usually late in the game, unless there is a problem. He might need to start making them tactically to get the best out of his team. There are players that need more minutes on the pitch in order to develop, which will be good for them. I expect Dean Henderson to be back on the bench with De Gea regaining his place in goal on Thursday evening. It could be a good time for De Gea to show United the player he is, which could get United what they want to achieve this season.

In defence, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe could all be available should the club need to change things up at the back. It seems unlikely that Eric Bailly will be back in action any time soon, which is just another problem for him during his career at United. In midfield, Juan Mata, Amad Diallo, Daniel James, Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek all have something in their respective lockers to add something, if United need to make a change. There will be a lack of attacking players so Mata, Diallo and James could all operate in this areas with Diallo needing more game time this season after that goal he scored against AC Milan.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Victory over Spurs is a must with players using the 6-1 defeat as the ammunition to get the win

Tottenham Hotspur -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London

Sunday 11 April 2021, KO 16:30 BST

Referee: Chris Kavanagh Assistants: Adam Nunn, Sian Massey-Ellis

Fourth Official: Andre Marriner

VAR: Craig Pawson Assistant VAR: Harry Lennard

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Sunday when they face Tottenham Hotspur at their new stadium three days after beating Granada 2-0 in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg in Spain. Spurs exited the competition in the last round, so will have had the best part of a week’s rest ahead of this match meaning that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side could be at a disadvantage with Jose Mourinho’s squad having extra resting time following United’s return to Manchester in the early hours of Friday morning. United beat Brighton and Hove Albion in the league last week, giving them a four-point cushion over third-placed Leicester City.

Spurs sit in sixth place in the Premier League, 11 points adrift of United, which is some distance considering the Spurs supporters still talk about them beating United 6-1 at Old Trafford earlier in the season – it did not get them far, did it? If Chelsea do not get the upper hand over Crystal Palace, Spurs could be looking to break into the top five and with West Ham United facing Leicester City, a win could give United more breathing space with the Hammers seeking to remain in the top four, which they achieved because of Chelsea losing to West Bromwich Albion last week and them beating Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday evening.

Manchester United: WWLWWD

Granada CF 2-0 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 W, Leicester City 3-1 L, AC Milan 1-0 W, West Ham United 1-0 W, AC Milan 1-1 D

Tottenham Hotspur: DWLLWW

Newcastle United 2-2 D, Aston Villa 2-0 W, Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 L, Arsenal 2-1 L, Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 W, Crystal Palace 4-1 W

Top Scorers: Bruno Fernandes and Harry Kane have both scored 24 goals in all competitions this season with Kane scoring three more goals in the Premier League than Fernandes.

Manchester United Goals: 24 – Bruno Fernandes, 20 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 5 – Mason Greenwood, Daniel James, Paul Pogba, 3 – Own Goal, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

In the past six matches, United have won four, drawn once and lost once – scoring eight goals, conceding five and keeping three clean sheets. In their last Premier League match, United moved four points away from Leicester City, who were in third place, opening up a nine-point lead between them in second place and the fifth-placed team, which gives United some security, as long as they keep winning league matches. Beating Spurs this weekend should give United some thunder in the top four and they should be in the mind to beat them, after the 6-1 defeat at the start of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur Goals: 24 – Harry Kane, 17 – Son Heung-Min, 10 – Gareth Bale, Carlos Vinícius, 8 – Lucas Moura, 5 – Tanguy Ndombele, 3 – Erik Lamela, Giovani Lo Celso, 2 – Dele Alli, Serge Aurier, Davinson Sánchez, Harry Winks, 1 – Toby Alderweireld, Ben Davies, Alfie Devine, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Moussa Sissoko

In their last six matches, Spurs have won three, drawn once and lost twice – scoring 11 goals, conceding eight and keeping two clean sheets. It is not the best form for a team looking to reach European football of some substance next season, which is going to be tough if they expect to make the UEFA Champions League places. Spurs supporters will mock United for the 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford at the start of the season but though three points they earned do not seem to have done much for them. They will probably crow about their Carabao Cup final place at the end of the month too, pretending that they have a chance of winning it.

Team News: Three players ruled out for United with two players ruled out for Spurs. United could be sweating on two players with two more welcomed back for Spurs.

Phil Jones (knee), Anthony Martial (knee) and Eric Bailly (coronavirus) have all been ruled out for the visit to Spurs on Sunday. Paul Pogba is a slight doubt after suffering a niggle against Granada on Thursday evening and has a 75% chance of facing Spurs with Luke Shaw also having a slight problem during the match inn Spain which saw him replaced by Alex Telles at half time, but he also has a 75% change of featuring against Spurs. Both players will be subject to a late fitness test. United did not suffer any other problems on Thursday so should have a relatively big squad to choose from ahead of the match.

Matt Doherty (muscular) and Ben Davies (calf/shin) have both been ruled out of the visit of United in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. Toby Alderweireld and Serge Aurier had problems returning to the club after the international break which meant they did not feature for the club last weekend due to not getting their COVID-19 tests in time to return to training last Thursday and Friday. They are both fully fit and should be included in the squad this weekend with Spurs seeking to do the double over United and the Old Trafford club seeking revenge for the defeat earlier in the season which was based on fitness, not the greatness of Spurs.

Predicted Starting XI: David De Gea to keep his place with Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood leading the line for United?

Solskjaer probably won’t make any changes against Spurs and will be seeking to get a good result on the road after losing their away run against Leicester City in the Emirates FA Cup before the international break. Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood could lead the line, supported by Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Fred in midfield. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw (providing he comes through a late fitness test) could start in the fullback positions with Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire partnering in the centre of defence. David De Gea could keep his place for this match after missing the past seven matches, so he will be eager.

Match Prediction: 57 matches played in the Premier League but United have won 35 of the matches, drawing 12, meaning Spurs have won ten times in the history of the Premier League which is poor form.

United and Spurs have met 57 times in the history of the Premier League, this weekend being the 58th time the two club have met in the English top flight. United have won 35 of the encounters with the two teams drawing 12 times and Spurs beating United just ten times. United have scored 95 times with Spurs scoring 56. United have been awarded eight penalties, scoring all of them with Spurs winning one and scoring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets against Spurs with the North London club keeping eight. United players have been booked 98 times with four red cards. Spurs players have been booked 92 times with one red card.

Earlier in the season, United and Spurs met at Old Trafford in the Premier League which resulted in a 6-1 victory for the North London club. Bruno Fernandes scored a penalty in the second minute but Tanguy Ndombele equalised two minutes later, there was a brace for both Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane with Serge Aurier scoring the other. In this fixture last season, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, it was a 1-1 draw which was also the first fixture played during the first coronavirus lockdown. Steven Bergwijn opened the scoring in the 27th minute with Paul Pogba winning an 81st minute penalty, scored by Bruno Fernandes.

Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

Review & Ratings: Fernandes equaliser spared United’s blushes against Spurs; Pogba’s return could spark something; Greenwood a player for a new generation

Manchester United drew 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur in North London on Friday evening. It was a seventh match without a win for Jose Mourinho’s side and the twelfth consecutive match without a defeat for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. United will face Sheffield United at Old Trafford on Wednesday in a must-win match.

United started well in the game and looked like the brightest team and aside of Marcus Rashford’s effort on goal, nothing was seemingly coming forward. Spurs took the lead in the match in the 27th minute after a David De Gea error after Steven Bergwijn’s effort on goal was punched into the back of the net. A poor display there from the Spaniard.

Solskjaer made a double substitution in the 63rd minute of the match with Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba replacing Daniel James, who was booked in the first hand and Fred. With United still chasing an equaliser, Solskjaer made two more changes with Odion Ighalo and Nemanja Matic replacing Anthony Martial and Victor Lindelof.

United equalised from the penalty spot after Pogba was fouled by Eric Dier, who was not booked for the foul. It would seem the referee fancied Spurs bu not showing them any cards with Erik Lamela needing a booking after four fouls. United were given a second penalty in the game, which was cancelled out by VAR. A point for each team was the result.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper made yet another error which has led to conceding a goal which is something De Gea needs to change, and quickly.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

The right-back played well against Spurs, despite the home side scoring a goal in the first half. United got a point, which was not the greatest result, but will do, for now.

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2 Victor Lindelof

The so-called Iceman has not been a revelation in defence. He was replaced by Matic in the 78th minute of the match.

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5 Harry Maguire

The defender played well and put in a fair few clearances. This game was never going to be the game it could have been in March, but is part of the progress. United need to be more clinical.

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23 Luke Shaw

The left-back did well at times but will need to improve if United are to get where they want to be this season. When match fitness comes in, in a few matches time, we shall see.

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17 Fred

Fred did well in stages for United with form well and truly out the window after three months without football. The Brazilian was seemingly upset that he was replaced in the 63rd minute with Pogba making his return from injury.

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39 Scott McTominay

The Scotland international did not have the best of games, but the whole squad seemed off. A draw and a point is not the best outcome, but not the worst either.

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Review & Ratings: Fernandes equaliser spared United’s blushes against Spurs; Pogba’s return could spark something; Greenwood a player for a new generation

The Welshman was not the best player on the pitch against Spurs by a long shot on Friday evening but seemed to be booked after just one foul despite Lamela not being booked after about four of them. He was replaced in the 63rd minute by Greenwood.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

The Portuguese midfielder was probably the best player in the match, before Pogba came on. He scored his fourth goal at the club, albeit from the penalty spot, equalising for United.

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10 Marcus Rashford

The England striker had a good chance for a goal in the first half of the game but didn't get it, obviously. The fitness is there but after three months, it was never going to be a spectacular match, as it could have been back in March.

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9 Anthony Martial

The Frenchman was back to sheer frustration against Spurs and seemed far too slow at times, giving that suggestion that he's not fit to lead the line again. With United still chasing a goal, he was replaced by Ighalo in the 78th minute.

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Substitutes

6 Paul Pogba

Replaced Fred 63'. There was a spark that didn't go out when Pogba came into the game. He seemed to work well with Fernandes and won the penalty which drew United level.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Replaced James 63'. It was a great performance for the player who has been working hard during the lockdown. He will be a special player one day. He was unlucky to miss his chance late in the game.

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Review & Ratings: Fernandes equaliser spared United’s blushes against Spurs; Pogba’s return could spark something; Greenwood a player for a new generation

Replaced Martial 78'. The Nigerian should have perhaps been involved much earlier in the game with United chasing a goal.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Lindelof 78'. Did what he needed to do when he was on the pitch. No complaints from me.

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3 Eric Bailly

Replaced McTominay 89'. Cam on too late to really get involved in the game.

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Goals: Steven Bergwijn 27′; Bruno Fernandes 82′ penalty

Assists: Serge Aurier 27′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof (Matic 78′), Maguire, Shaw; Fred (Pogba 63′), McTominay (Bailly 89′); James (Greenwood 63′), Fernandes, Rashford; Martial (Ighalo 78′)

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Williams; Mata, Lingard

Bookings: Daniel James 41′

Confirmed Starting XI: Martial, Rashford, James and Fernandes lead the line against Spurs; Pogba on the bench

Manchester United will return to Premier League action three months after the league was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was a shame as United, back then were in good form and on an eleven match unbeaten run, scoring 29 goals, conceding two and keeping nine clean sheets. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking to keep that going.

It will be the first time that Jose Mourinho has faced his former club since he was sacked almost 17 months ago and will face United with his team in dire form with one draw and five defeats in their last six matches and seemingly facing an uphill battle in their bid to qualify for European football next season, which seems tough right now.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

Fred, McTominay;

James, Fernandes, Rashford;

Martial

Substitutes:

Romero; Bailly, Williams; Pogba, Mata, Lingard, Matic; Ighalo, Greenwood

Tottenham Hotspur:

Lloris;

Aurier, Sanchez, Dier, Davies;

Winks, Sissoko;

Bergwijn, Lamela, Son;

Kane

Substitutes:

Gazzaniga; Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Sessignon; Lo Celso, N’Dombele, Fernandes; White

United and Spurs have played 55 times in the Premier League with United winning 35 times, drawing 11 times and losing nine times. In total, United have scored 93 goals to Spurs’ 49. United have kept 27 clean sheets to Spurs’ eight. United have won six penalties, scoring all of them. In total, United have received 95 yellow cards and three red cards. Spurs had 91 yellow cards and one red card.

This match will be a race to find European football next season for Mourinho’s side, who were placed ninth in the league before the match, with United in fifth; four points better off than the North Londoners. United will be seeking three points from this match which will fortify their position to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season as Spurs seek to climb into the UEFA Europa League position.

How Manchester United could look against Spurs; three at the back? Rashford and Martial leading the line?

Manchester United will return to Premier League action three months after the league was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was a shame as United, back then were in good form and on an eleven match unbeaten run, scoring 29 goals, conceding two and keeping nine clean sheets. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking to keep that going.

It will be the first time that Jose Mourinho has faced his former club since he was sacked almost 17 months ago and will face United with his team in dire form with one draw and five defeats in their last six matches and seemingly facing an uphill battle in their bid to qualify for European football next season, which seems tough right now.

United and Spurs have played 55 times in the Premier League with United winning 35 times, drawing 11 times and losing nine times. In total, United have scored 93 goals to Spurs’ 49. United have kept 27 clean sheets to Spurs’ eight. United have won six penalties, scoring all of them. In total, United have received 95 yellow cards and three red cards. Spurs had 91 yellow cards and one red card.

This match will be a race to find European football next season for Mourinho’s side, who were placed ninth in the league before the match, with United in fifth; four points better off than the North Londoners. United will be seeking three points from this match which will fortify their position to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season as Spurs seek to climb into the UEFA Europa League position.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper has had the time to inspire him to find the form he once had as United’s number one goalkeeper. After a few mistakes this season, De Gea might have had enough time to overcome mental problems and help drive this team forward in their bid to finish in the top four of the Premier League and end the season with a trophy, or two.

Defenders: Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence is now an area where most of the players are fit and ready to go, apart from Phil Jones, who is on the injury list once again. Away from home, Solskjaer has opted for three at the back and in this case, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw could be called upon to try and steer United home with all three points again.

Midfield Four: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fred, Paul Pogba, Brandon Williams

With a three-man defensive line, it normally gives a four-man midfield with wing-backs taking the width and pulling back to a back four or five if and when needed. In this case, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams could play the wide areas with Fred and Paul Pogba playing in midfield. This could lead to Fernandes playing further forward.

Attacking Midfield: Bruno Fernandes

The Portuguese midfielder has been a revelation for United since he was signed in January with three goals and four assists in all competitions and seeking more goals to help United move closer to finishing Innside the top four in the Premier League and maybe in the race to win a trophy. In this position, Fernandes could swap with Pogba, keeping Spurs guessing.

Forwards: Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial

It will be good to see the return of two strikers once again with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford leading the line with Fernandes just behind them. United now have a great amount of depth in these positions with Odion Ighalo and Mason Greenwood on the bench. Rashford and Martial are responsible for 35 goals between them this season, aiming for more.

Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Victor Lindelof, Axel Tuanzebe; Scott McTominay, Daniel James; Odion Ighalo, Mason Greenwood

United will have some great depth on the bench at this point in the season, which is great – as long as the players retain their fitness and avoid injury. Sergio Romero will keep his place on the bench with De Gea starting. In defence, Victor Lindelof and Axel Tuanzebe could play a part with Scott McTominay and Daniel James in midfield, if needed. In attack, Odion Ighalo and Mason Greenwood could be called upon.

Preview: Solskjaer boosted with Pogba and Rashford return to hit Spurs where it hurts?

Tottenham Hotspur -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London

Friday 19 June 2020, KO 20:15 BST

Referee: Jonathan Moss Assistants: Eddie Smart, Neil Davies Fourth Official: Andre Marriner

VAR: Graham Scott Assistant VAR: Stephen Child

Manchester United will return to Premier League action three months after the league was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was a shame as United, back then were in good form and on an eleven match unbeaten run, scoring 29 goals, conceding two and keeping nine clean sheets. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking to keep that going.

It will be the first time that Jose Mourinho has faced his former club since he was sacked almost 17 months ago and will face United with his team in dire form with one draw and five defeats in their last six matches and seemingly facing an uphill battle in their bid to qualify for European football next season, which seems tough right now.

Form: United undefeated in their last six matches and on 11-match unbeaten run; Spurs winless in last six matches, last winning seven matches ago.

Manchester United: WWWDWW

LASK 5-0 W, Manchester City 2-0 W, Derby County 3-0 W, Everton 1-1 D, Club Brugge 5-0 W, Watford 3-0 W

Tottenham Hotspur: LDLLLL

RB Leipzig 3-0 L, Burnley 1-1 D, Norwich City 1-1 (2-3 pens) L, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-3 L, Chelsea 2-1 L, RB Leipzig 1-0 L

Top Scorers: United were seemingly scoring goals for fun during their 11-match unbeaten run and Rashford could pick up where he left off for the remainder of the season.

Manchester United Goals: 19 – Marcus Rashford, 16 – Anthony Martial, 12 – Mason Greenwood, 5 – Scott McTominay, 4 – Odion Ighalo, Daniel James, 3 – Bruno Fernandes, Juan Mata, 2 – Fred, Own Goal, Jesse Lingard, Harry Maguire, Andreas Pereira, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United are unbeaten in 11 matches, scoring 29 goals, conceding twice, keeping nine clean sheets and driving forward in their bid to reach the top four of the Premier League. Solskjaer’s side will be up against it when they travel to Spurs on Friday but three points from this match will be a must to keep chase on those above them.

Tottenham Hotspur Goals: 17 – Harry Kane, 16 – Son Heung-Min, 9 – Dele Alli, 7 – Lucas Moura, 4 – Erik Lamela, 3 – Christian Eriksen, 2 – Serge Aurier, Steven Bergwijn, Giovani Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele, Moussa Sissoko, Jan Vertonghen, 1 – Toby Alderweireld, Ryan Sessegnon

Spurs have not been as good as they can be this season, losing Mauricio Pochettino and bringing in Mourinho, United’s former manager, which has not changed their fortunes. Four points adrift of United, Spurs will be seeking to make United’s first visit to their new stadium a memorable one, possibly taking all three points, which is a possibility.

Team News: Rashford, Pogba, Fosu-Mensah and Grant off the injury list – Jones back on it as United ready to go again.

Solskjaer will no doubt be boosted with the return of top scorer Marcus Rashford, midfielder Paul Pogba with two other players; Lee Grant and Tim Fosu-Mensah all of the injury list and ready to compete for places in the season run-in with United seeking a place in the UEFA Champions League next season. Phil Jones is back on the injury list though!

Mourinho will be happy to have Harry Kane back and ready to help drive his team forward after the played was due to miss the match between these two sides before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mourinho will be without Troy Parrott and Japhet Tanganga through injury with Dele Alli suspended for this match.

Predicted Starting XI: Rashford and Pogba return to the starting XI? Fernandes playing in the advanced position and three at the back for Solskjaer?

It is hard to predict the right formation and starting XI for United, especially three months after the last match and it still being the same season. In the past, Solskjaer has utilised three at the back in away matches, giving United a bit more in the midfield and moving forward. However, that might change but I have gone with that option.

Match Prediction: United the team in form right now but with a three month gap between last competitive matches, either side could be in the driving seat on Friday evening.

United and Spurs have played 55 times in the Premier League with United winning 35 times, drawing 11 times and losing nine times. In total, United have scored 93 goals to Spurs’ 49. United have kept 27 clean sheets to Spurs’ eight. United have won six penalties, scoring all of them. In total, United have received 95 yellow cards and three red cards. Spurs had 91 yellow cards and one red card.

This match will be a race to find European football next season for Mourinho’s side, who were placed ninth in the league before the match, with United in fifth; four points better off than the North Londoners. United will be seeking three points from this match which will fortify their position to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season as Spurs seek to climb into the UEFA Europa League position.

Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Manchester United

copyright: JW