“We can’t afford to lose,” says Patrice Evra ahead of Sunday’s trip to White Hart Lane and few would disagree with the United left-back, for this weekend’s clash against Tottenham could be a watershed moment as far as David Moyes’ first season at the club is concerned.
Having beaten Arsenal, United failed to pick up any significant momentum and slumped to a dreadful draw at Cardiff last week, an infuriating result not only because the Reds conceded a late equaliser for the third time this season after letting in late goals against Shakthar and Southampton, but also because it came on the back on a terribly insipid performance.
On the basis of last Sunday’s display, a trip to free spending Tottenham Hotspur is the last thing United thing in this rollercoaster of a season, but Spurs are hardly enjoying a vintage season themselves, with Andre’ Villas-Boas increasingly under pressure for a lack of results and a brand of football that many in N17 consider boring.
Having parted ways with Gareth Bale in the summer, the Portuguese manager spent over £100m on Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Paulinho – plus a couple of other signings – but, so far at least, Spurs have been crippled by a chronic inability to convert their possession into goals and have the worst goal return of any of the top 12 teams in the Premier League.
Spurs’ splendid defensive record came to an abrupt end last Sunday when they succumbed 6-0 away to Manchester City (don’t worry lads, we know what it feels like to be on the receiving hand of a shellacking at the Etihad) but, despite all their problems, the North Londoners are just four points behind second placed Chelsea and one behind United.
Following Wednesday’s 5-0 thumping of Bayer Leverkusen, the Reds travel to down to London – accompanied by an even smaller number of fans than a year ago, giving Spurs’ ridiculous insistence on cutting the allocation for away fans – hoping to heap pressure on AVB and to extend their unbeaten run to 12 games in all competition.
With Nemanja Vidic and Robin Van Persie still in doubt given their injuries, David Moyes could opt for a very similar formation to the one he fielded in the Champions League, albeit with one between Marouane Fellaini and Tom Cleverley expected to replace Ryan Giggs in the middle of the park, given that it’d be foolish to expect a 40-year-old man to play twice in four days.
For the first time in a couple of seasons, United’s first thought as they travel to White Hart Lane - where they’re unbeaten in the last visits – won’t be to stop Gareth Bale and, with the Welshman now gone, one can only hope decides to set his team out further up the pitch than Fergie did during his last trips to North London, when the Reds seemed happy to soak up pressure for 90 minutes, sitting dangerously on the edge of their box.
United, however, will have to be wary of Andros Townsend, with the England winger likely to cause Patrice Evra problems, particularly if the Frenchman continues to switch off defensively as he did last Sunday against Cardiff. In truth, Townsend has shown to be rather mono-dimensional after his England debut and were United to force him inside, they will have gone a long way in neutralising him.
Having beaten the league leaders and having secured his first win away from home in the Champions League, it’s time for Moyes to beat a big team away in the Premier League.
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Tags: Match Preview