Since losing to Tottenham in the early days of the 2012-2013 season, Manchester United have dropped only 5 points on an incredible run seeing them take a firm grasp of the Premier League’s leaders position. This is a chance for Spurs to get a very rare double over United, and cement their place in the race for a Champions League spot and maybe even the top 3.
A lot of things have changed since Tottenham stunned Old Trafford with a 3-2 victory, as United’s confidence in their defense still isn’t much better, but it’s no longer bothers them. Some signal that match as the one that turned Ferguson around onto the system that has worked so well since. He knows he has a bad defense no matter what tandem he fields in the centre of the back four; so why not use what he has? Robin van Persie.
While Ferguson keeps insisting that United aren’t a one-man team, it’s hard to argue with the notion that without Van Persie, they wouldn’t be ahead of everyone else by 7 points at least (four now, a match in hand). His 17 league goals than season, worth 3 points on more than one occasion, keep United at a level of confidence above the rest of the competition.
The two key men for Tottenham are Moussa Dembele and Gareth Bale. United struggled coping with their speed and physicality, but expect Ferguson to open with a more cautios approach at White Hart Lane, hoping to draw Tottenham defenders, and especially Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson, forward, allowing his wingers and the Van Persie-Rooney tandem more space up front. If Spurs manage to stay patient in their build up, they might not need their entire team to move forward in order to take advantage of the United frailties at the back.
Having the overrated Scott Parker in the midfield instead of Sandro (out for the season) is a blow, but that just means that Dembele will have to be a bit more picky regarding the moments he chooses to stride forward at. A good combination between him, Lennon and Bale in their choosing of when to join Jermain Defoe up front might be a bit too much to handle for United, who’ll have only Michael Carrick in the defensive midfield.
Prediction – It’s hard to bet against Manchester United at the moment, but Tottenham are very well suited to beating the Red Devils. They just need to keep a cautious mindset, relying on their speed of the front four, instead of going all-out, exposing their slow defense a bit too much.