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Manchester United v Spurs: Likely Teams & Predicted Score

As it stands Spurs are going to the reigning champions and have not picked up a win at Old Trafford since 1989. Since then of course there have been moments when it’s looked like that streak may be broken, however more than once poor officiating has cost Spurs that opportunity, none more so than Pedro Mendes ‘phantom goal’ in 2005. Spurs famous lack of mental fortitude has often been the cause of failure too, but one thing that Harry Redknapp can take credit for is vastly improving the teams self-belief. Spurs claimed more points from losing positions than anyone else in the Premier League last year. It would also be churlish to not credit United, they are the epitome of a team who are never beaten and never stop trying. Despite a more youthful line up and introducing a number of new signings the Community Shield comeback and their late winner at West Brom show they still very much retain this mentality. Despite my wishes, it’s never going to be easy at Old Trafford.

With last weeks home game unfortunately postponed this is Spurs first Premier League game of the season but they are coming off the back of an extremely confident performance against Hearts. Scotland’s third best side were clearly not strong opposition; but how often have Spurs failed to put away weaker sides? Attitude and application were spot on in Edinburgh and it is encouraging to see the team spirit after what has been a trying summer. Spurs will know they are unlikely to see as much of the ball as they did against Hearts but will be confident in their ability to trouble United when they are in possession. Some of the attacking play on Thursday was an absolute joy; incisive passing combined with intelligent movement at pace in the true Tottenham style.

Manchester United line-up

Manchester United’s defensive injuries mean that Sir Alex Ferguson has already named his back four, although he has been known to sow disinformation before. If he’s true to his word they will line up with Smalling at right back, Evra on the left with Jones and Evans at centre back. David De Gea will continue in goal and according to their official site has been confident in training all week. Surely they wouldn’t lie for propaganda purposes? Spurs midfield and forwards should still look to strike from distance as the Spaniard clearly has a weakness – it appears that he struggles to time his dives correctly – meaning he conceded more goals from outside the box than any other keeper in La Liga last year. It’s unlikely that United will make any other changes so Cleverley and Anderson will be the midfield pairing, Nani and Young the wide players with Welbeck keeping his place alongside Rooney. Dimitar Berbatov obviously remains an option and Ferguson may be tempted to unleash the Bulgarian against his old club.

Spurs line up

Harry Redknapp has a couple of big decisions to make although injuries may force his hand in some areas. If Thursday means anything then Gomes has claimed the goalkeepers gloves for now at least. If that is the case, his own mental character will be put to the test followng the ‘Nani incident’ last year. It must be hoped that the arrival of Brad Friedel has caused him to refocus and get back to the top of his game. In front of him, one big choice for Redknapp is at right back, Kyle Walker was impressive at Hearts but it must be tempting – and probably correct – to go with the more experienced Corluka. One thing that may sway things in Walkers favour though is his spell at Aston Villa. There he will have faced Ashley Young countless times in training and this could be seen as an advantage. The rest of the back four should pick itself, Dawson and Kaboul have to be seen as the first choice pairing and complement each other well. Kaboul grows in confidence and can establish himself as a top Premier League centre back this season while Michael Dawson’s commitment and passion will be vital at Old Trafford. Benoit Assou-Ekotto at left back is also a no brainer, big games are his speciality and despite Nani’s current blistering form BAE can keep any winger quiet.

Central midfield presents the next decision for Redknapp, if Modric is still unavailable then Niko Kranjcar can surely expect to retain his place. Concerns about his strength and determination remain in regards to his suitability for a central role though United no longer possess a Roy Keane figure to strike fear in that area. Jake Livermore had an excellent game on Thursday but if Redknapp is confident that Huddlestone is fit enough then he will likely get the nod ahead of the youngster.

On the attacking front there are unlikely to be any changes from Thursday. Both Lennon and Bale were impressive against Hearts and will be confident they can make an impression on Monday night. Patrice Evra against Aaron Lennon could be a deciding factor, Lennon has done well against Evra in the past and will look to repeat that. On the other wing Gareth Bale will look to take advantage of Smalling’s inexperience at right back. Smalling has looked good so far but as Maicon will attest, the best right backs can be torn apart by the Welsh wing wizard. Rafael Van der Vaart clearly hasn’t achieved full fitness yet after struggling with a foot injury in pre season, despite this he was still at his classy best against Hearts and a big performance will be needed from the Dutch master if Spurs are to get anything from this match. Jermain Defoe must hope that last years habit of dropping him every time he scores hasn’t carried over to this year. If Ferdinand and Vidic were fit, he probably would be benched, he’s never seen much joy out of that pairing. With Evans and Jones in the centre it will be hoped that his movement and burgeoning link up with Van der Vaart can pay dividends and that Defoe can defy his reputation of struggling against the big teams.


Considering United’s seeming weakness at the back this must surely represent Spurs best chance of getting something out of this fixture in some time. To get anything at Old Trafford, Spurs will need to be at their very best for the full 90 minutes and will also probably require some luck. Wayne Rooney will pose a constant danger and he is developing a good understanding with the pacey Welbeck, Dawson and Kaboul will be put to the test all night and must retain their concentration. In the centre of the park Anderson and Cleverley have been questioned but have so far come up trumps this season, this is though a big opportunity for Niko Kranjcar to show how valuable he can be to Spurs. If he can get the ball to the the front four they are of course capable of goals. Despite all that its still hard to be confident of a win and even a point from Old Trafford would be a decent way to kick off the Premier League campaign. My prediction is for an entertaining 2-2 draw, with Van der Vaart to score both of Spurs goals.


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