Spurs Preview: Keep The Streaks Alive
Written by The United Religion.
Manchester United host Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in what should be a very highly-entertaining Barclays Premier League match.
|Nani Will Be Influential|
United are hot on the heels of two late goal wins over Stoke City and Wolverhampton in the Premier League and Carling Cup, respectively, so they should be full of confidence ahead of the visit of Spurs. Against Tottenham, United will be looking to continue to very impressive streaks: extending their 21-match unbeaten streak as well as extending their personal 18 match run at Old Trafford against Spurs.
Tottenham will be hoping that the tides have turned, though, and they can finally break their jinx against United, because they have not won at Old Trafford for over 20 years.
The last time that Tottenham came away from Old Trafford with all three points was December 16, 1989 – meaning that 23 of United’s 41 listed first-team were under the age of three, or not even born yet, when this last happened. Despite their poor luck at Old Trafford, it has not stopped these two clubs from producing some of the most memorable, edge-of-your-seat matches in the history of the Premier League – mainly because Spurs throwing away commanding leads to a rampant United second-half comeback.
However, this time, the visitors will be in buoyant mood, because they feel as though they are closing the gap between themselves, United and the rest of the quickly-disbanding big-four.
Tottenham showed last season that they have the wherewithal to compete in the Premier League by securing the very lucrative fourth place finish, and get into Europe’s elite competition – the UEFA Champions League.
Many pundits thought that Tottenham were swinging well above their weight, but they have already showed this season that they are more than capable of competing with some of Europe’s best clubs. Spurs are currently in fifth place in the Premier League table, but only two points off of United, who are sitting in third on 17 points.
It has been no secret to their new-found success, because it all started with hiring of Harry Redknapp, and his arm-around-the-shoulder approach, which revitalized the relegation-threatened club in just one season. Its been just over two years since Harry’s arrival now, and he has instilled a new confidence around White Hart Lane by introducing free-flowing, attack-minded style of football.
This type of football is very pleasing on the eyes, because they have a no-fear mentality, but the players that have been vital to their success were at the club prior to Redknapp’s arrival. Juande Ramos, who was fired in October 2008, should be credited with securing the services of both Luka Modrić and Gareth Bale, who are both on Sir Alex Ferguson’s radar.
Bale has been an absolute revelation since maturing into one of the Premier League’s best wingers, and proof of this is his well-documented hat-trick in Spur’s 4-3 loss to Champions League’s title holders, Inter Milan. Modrić is a small, but neat and tidy player, who is seen as one of the potential players to replace Paul Scholes when the Ginger Prince calls curtains on his career at Old Trafford.
Besides the above mentioned, Spurs have quality players throughout their side who can turn a game on its head in a blink of an eye, and it starts with their impressive summer signing.
Redknapp, who is being accused of tapping up Aston Villa’s Ashley Young, has brought in some experience to the aid his club’s ambitions. Rafael van der Vaart arrived at White Hart Lane on deadline day for a mere £8 million, and the Dutch international has settled in quite nicely, and quickly as he has grabbed five goals in his first eight matches for Spurs.
What has made van der Vaart so lethal is his ability to sniff in and around the penalty area, and being the beneficiary of being in the right position at the right time following a knock-back header from Peter Crouch.
If selected, the 6’7″ forward will definitely give both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic a torrid time, especially with their frailties on set-piece defending.
The only other summer signing that Redknapp made was acquiring William Gallas, who was on a free transfer following his release from Spurs bitter North London rival, Arsenal.
The news that has come out recently is that Michael Owen has suffered another injury, and will be out for another three weeks. Despite scoring 12 goals in 38 total matches for United, the injury-prone forward, along with Owen Hargreaves, is more than likely becoming an unwelcome headache for Sir Alex, and could be finished at Old Trafford following the conclusion of the 2010/11 season.
Wayne Rooney is still two weeks away from his return, and it penciled in for a start against Manchester City on November 10. If Manchester United is to get all three points from this match against Tottenham, then it will come down to two things: team defending and penetration.
Out: A. Valencia (leg), R. Giggs (hamstring), W. Rooney (ankle), O. Hargreaves (knee), M. Owen (hamstring); Doubtful: Anderson (knee)
E. van der Sar; Rafael, R. Ferdinand, N. Vidic, P. Evra; Nani, D. Fletcher, P. Scholes, G. Obertan; J. Hernandez, D. Berbatov
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