Sometimes, recent form and current squads have nothing to do with the prospect of a match’s result. Manchester United haven’t lost to Tottenham over the last 22 matches between the teams, while Spurs have failed to win at Old Trafford since 1989.
Based on that fact only, it’s an easy bet on the Red Devils, who have struggled in four of their five matches this season, excluding the 4-0 win over Wigan which also wasn’t as easy as the result suggests. Midfield problems, especially when trying to cope with faster units and teams, are giving Alex Ferguson more than a couple of headaches before the Spurs encounter. Tottenham don’t have anyone to hold the ball and dictate pace, but with Dembele and Sandro they have two athletic and physical midfielders who could cause a lot of problems for Scholes and Carrick.
Wayne Rooney will be on the bench, while Robin van Persie gets the start, leading the attack with Nani and Welbeck on the wings, which means United will have some problems getting any sort of flowing passing game. Welbeck isn’t comfortable on the wing while Nani simply can’t get anything to work for him this season, no matter on what side of the pitch he’s playing. Shinji Kagawa is the key to get the passing game a bit more effective, but he needs to play closer to the central midfielders in order to increase his effectiveness and help United look a bit better.
One problem for Tottenham is their high defensive line, with Jan Vertonghen playing as left back and making it a rather slow unit for United to expose. Gareth Bale should be a bit more responsible and limited with his ventures forward, having less of support behind him than he usually does with Assou-Ekotto.
Clint Dempsey hasn’t been playing well so far for Tottenham, but Villas-Boas will continue to give him the spot behind a very hot Defoe (4 goals this season) with Bale and Lennon working the wings. United’s defense, with Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand in the middle, isn’t in the best of shape, but with only one striker for Tottenham it should be easier for the centre backs to help Rafael (not known for his defensive abilities and Patrice Evra (declining) against faster players.
Tottenham’s chances? United have more of a fear factor working for them at the moment than actual ability, with Van Persie scoring goals despite hardly doing anything during the matches. Still, they’re a completely different beast when playing at Old Trafford, more willing to venture forward and press opponents, unlike their away fixtures so far this season. Tottenham have a quick counter attacking ability, but their defense is looking like patch work at the moment, which won’t be enough to come away with anything at the worst away fixture for them in the past 23 years.