Tottenham Look to Break Old Trafford Voodoo

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On the back of two consecutive 2-1 wins in the past week, Manchester United are starting to kick into gear this season; and according to the stats this progression should continue against Tottenham Hotspur. The visitors last recorded a win against United at Old Trafford in 1989, and since then have lost 22 times out of 26. This should be a banker for the Red Devils. However, with a decimated defence and facing an improving Tottenham side, this will be far from an easy fixture for Robin van Persie and co.

Form

Both teams come into this fixture having safely secured their passage into round four of the COC, with Tottenham easing past Carlisle 3-0. Yet, the media has been hounding AVB ever since he replaced their favourite, Harry Redknapp. After a disappointing start, losing to Newcastle and drawing to Reading, they have somewhat turned it around, and are now unbeaten in 6. This resurgence in form is coupled with a lack of serious key injuries, Adebayor and Parker aside. However, there are some rumours that Assou-Ekotto will be unfit to start at Old Trafford, meaning Jan Vertonghen will shuffle to left back, a position he occupied occasionally for former team Ajax. This would mean that Caulker could start alongside Gallas in central defence. The only other debate is whether AVB will plump for Dempsey over Sigurdsson to play behind in-form striker Defoe. Dembélé will return to the site of his final fixture for Fulham, where he enjoyed a profitable afternoon against a lacklustre United midfield. For United, the injuries and problems keep on mounting. Vidic, Smalling, Jones and Young are known to be absent, and there are doubts over Rafael and Valencia’s fitness. As well as that, Nani is thought to have been involved with a bust up, after a confrontation with Davide Patrucci midweek. This latest tantrum from the Portuguese winger, coupled with his poor form so far this season, could mean he is dropped to the bench, despite a lack of wingers, and could even jeopardise his future as a Manchester United player. Ferguson will have another decision as to whether he should risk Wayne Rooney, who, despite logging a promising performance midweek, was described by Sir Alex as “tired” after the game. Kagawa and RVP are most likely to be the preferred choice.

Match Up

With Carrick and Paul Scholes likely to start in midfield, their primary task will be subduing adventurous midfielder Moussa Dembélé, after his barnstorming performance earlier this season.

This could be a key battle ground, but will by no means be Spurs’ only option of attack. With Rafael thought to be slightly below match fitness, Bale will look to finally put in a dangerous performance at Old Trafford. On the other side, Lennon will hope he can continue to find joy against Evra, as he has done so often in the past. One player who will be hoping for Bale and Lennon to succeed will be Jermain Defoe. He is in good form this season, scoring 4 goals, and will look to notch his 200th Premier League goal today. However, one accusation levelled at the England international is his complete selfishness. According to Who Scored, he has taken 31 shots so far this season, the most out of any player in the Premier League, whilst only hitting the target with 9 of them. Defoe’s eagerness and propensity to shoot often breaks up promising attacks and could frustrate Spurs’ attempt to break their Old Trafford curse.

For Manchester United, it will be necessary to avoid a lack of width, which at times hampered their play against Newcastle midweek. Giggs could return on the left; however he has a habit of drifting infield. Lots of pressure will thus be placed on the Red Devils fullbacks. Rooney, who could emerge from the bench if things don’t go so well, will look to kick-start his partnership with Van Persie. His display on Wednesday showed promise, and he could be the ideal partner for the Dutchman, prowling behind the front man and dictating play with his range of passing. He has also scored 5 goals in his last 5 games against Spurs. Whoever plays at right wing will look to take advantage of Vertonghen’s relative lack of experience at that position.

Prediction

With most of United’s defence carrying niggling injuries, I tip Defoe to break the 200 goal milestone today, with help from a storming Bale. However, Robin van Persie’s masterful finishing, Kagawa’s slick passing and a Rooney return will mean that United peg back Tottenham. If AVB continues his tendency to go conservative, I think United will win 3-1. But if the Portuguese goes balls for glory, it could be a different story. I’ll stick to 3-1 though.

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20 Comments

  1. A team-sheet reading Carrick-Scholes-Giggs makes me wanna puke!! 2-0 already, gutless cowardly team and zero passion !

  2. Liverpool away eat your heart out. That was the most cowardly performance ever in the history of football. Midfield isn’t really being overrun, Spurs players just running through an empty corridor through the middle. FUCKING HELL

  3. if we make it out of this without more injuries we will be lucky. 🙄 getting manhandled. we really have no young wingers who could come in instead of giggs or playing a forward out of pos…

    roony for giggs on the left nani on the right should give us some grit and bring ando or clevers on at some point.

  4. 1 attempt, 1 SOG, 38% possession. This is Manchester United at OT. I am beyond disgusted. 👿

    PS: v Persie should have had another penalty when Gallas barged in! 😕

  5. Whats the betting nani will be made the fall guy again and hauled off at HT even though hes probably been our only outlet so far.
    If anyone needs the hair dryer its fergie to himself.
    Was there honestly anyone out there but fergie who upon seeing this team sheet thought it was going to be anything but a shite performance? I mean really.
    These mad selections and shite performances are happening on an almost weekly basis now, and people wonder why some fans dont just overlook the signs from last week because we got the 3 points that time. Its the same bloody mistakes week in week out and that for me is not only hugely frustrating, but also rather worrying too regarding fergie and his inability to realise whats going on in front of him.

  6. tottnham are shit playing with 6 defenders and no forwards for 30 min. how the hell did we not score??? 4 pen shouts and two off the bar 😡

  7. First, this is on Fergie.
    Second, Rio was shocking.
    Third, taking off Kagawa for Welbeck was a mistake.
    Fourth, leaving Scholes on past 75th minute was a mistake.
    Finally, Fergie loses a tactical battle against AVB.

  8. Ah well. Atleast we saw a good 25 odd minutes in the 2nd half, which was more than weve seen in the last 3/4 games.
    Blame has to go to fergie and fergie alone today. Line up killed us once again.
    Id love to think we’d learn from this but sadly we all know its only a matter of time before we see giggs and scholes starting at stamford bridge, emirates, wastelands again, we set up with this zombie football and play with a lack of oomph again until were 2-0 down- in the near future.
    I think it showed even in the last 15 mins, when we took off kagawa just how lacking we are. We took off our only central attacking option, brought on a striker asked to play winger in welbeck, and then surprise surprise resorted to hapless long balls and crosses as our only attempts on goal 🙄
    Absolutely atrocious. And thats the limit of our tactical knowledge is it? And people claim jay wire is going OTT with his thoughts regarding our tactical ineptness?
    As i say, results like this have been coming for bloody ages. Usually though we scrape through and get a goal and so its all swept under the carpet. Nothing learnt.
    Id really love to think a result and performance such as what we saw first half, might provoke the sort of kick up the arse we have needed for a long time. Unfortunately i dont expect it.
    And that just sums fergie up at the minute really. He has well and truely rested on his laurels.
    Everything is perfect, nothing needs to be worked on, no one needs to be moved on, so nothing is ever bloody learnt and its all repeated over again.
    And thats what causes such anger in me. That i knew a result like this was bloody coming. I knew it, alot of supporters knew it, and yet fergie didnt.

  9. Impressed with Rooney. Giggs should be force retired.
    De Gea would have got something on Bale’s shot.
    Fergie fucked up the line ups and tactics again.

  10. You know guys I really don’t wanna bring that back, but some people believed I had an agenda against Ferguson. I don’t. We lost today because of poor tactics. I think even the most lazy viewer could see that. Just like we did in so many games last season. How Giggs keeps finding himself in this team ahead of players like Anderson and Cleverley is mysterious. Last season I was to the point of tears begging for a holding midfielder. How many losses do we need before that is considered? It’s also not inaccurate to conclude that we had no midfield in the 1st half. Shameful stuff. They were strolling through the middle with neither of Carrick nor Scholes in sight. Being overrun is better. Completely disappearing and vacating the centre is another thing. I think some of you guys need to consider before you accuse me of having an agenda. I’ve said plenty times, a holding midfielder is a necessity for both attack and defence. With the kind of pace Spurs had on their left side,it was clear we were going to suffer given how both Nani and Rafael were trying to get forward at every chance. That’s why you need a holding midfielder. He covers for the wide players when they attack. But check the replays of Spurs’ goals. Neither Carrick nor Scholes can be seen anywhere in the picture. I only saw them when we had possession.

    And then Giggs. Really? Then you find people saying “Anderson and Cleverley are not even good enough to displace Giggs”. No. There’s absolutely no logical reason for the selection of Giggs ahead of others. He’ll definitely start upcoming games and will probably play in the middle against Chelsea. If anyone knows any just cause why Giggs should start ahead of Anderson and Cleverley, speak now or forever hold your peace. The minute he came off we saw a totally different United. But he shouldn’t have played at all in the first place. This is normally what we call a wake up call. Just don’t expect anyone from our technical bench, especially Ferguson, to answer it. Experience has taught me to expect the opposite. To them it’s probably proof that we really need Giggs and he should start against Chelsea. Don’t look at me,I can’t explain that. Then we start calling youngsters like Pogba mercenaries. How in the world is anyone going to get a chance to break into the first team when the worst players for the job are the preferred candidates?

    Okay. That’s my rant and I believe I deserve it after being assumed biased. I’ll now return to optimism. Well kind of.

  11. @Tony Montana

    So spot on, you should start taking our penalties. Only problem is, as you say, noone expect us the so called armchair analysts and Football Manager experts aka every fan with a brain, will learn anything from this. You absolutely stole my thoughts. And yes, Giggs will start probably all our big games from henceforth

  12. Opti

    Don’t agree that Rio was shocking. He couldn’t have done anything about the goals or the incessant attacks on our goal. Chasing players like Bale is a tall order even for super fast defenders. But to have to play knowing full well you have zero support from midfield is a nightmare. All the goals Spurs scored, I describe them as logical progress. If you come up with ridiculous tactics, that not only blunt your attack but actually empower the opposition to maneuver freely and literally open up massive passages and routes from the center circle to your goalkeeper,if you do that, it is offensive,derogatory and classless of our bench to expect players like Bale to fail to exploit, quite easily such opportunities. If Spurs had failed to take 3 points home, then they would have been cursed or quite simply they would be cheaters. Rio was simply a victim of the lack of a holding midfielder and was reduced to the role of chasing Bale, and the Dutch guy. A role I fully expected him to fail and he did justice to logic by failing to chase and catch them. There’s a big difference between chasing and defending, with the former being a simple hopeful formality which is far much better than simply taking a chair and sitting behind goal. Which is what I’d have done if I was Rio or Evans.

    But I have to agree, the decision to take Kagawa off was a spectacular fail. Not really at the same level as the decision to start Giggs, but a great fail all the same. Bringing Hernandez on in the 91st minute was of great benefit to Spurs, as it simply helped in eating up precious seconds. Well semi precious at this point seeing we had taken off an attacking threat. Obviously, the team is greatly impeded by the bench and first has to work the miracle of defeating the tactics given to them, which any decent opposition do by simply walking onto the pitch. But believe it or not I believe our players are good enough to defeat the bench and the opposition. They nearly did that today,no thanks to the upright and that horrendous miss from Rvp. Or the party pooping withdrawal of Kagawa. How we find ourselves with only 2 losses is the reason I believe we can go far. The second half showed that we have players capable of overachieving Opti

    Don’t agree that Rio was shocking. He couldn’t have done anything about the goals or the incessant attacks on our goal. Chasing players like Bale is a tall order even for super fast defenders. But to have to play knowing full well you have zero support from midfield is a nightmare. All the goals Spurs scored, I describe them as logical progress. If you come up with ridiculous tactics, that not only blunt your attack but actually empower the opposition to maneuver freely and literally open up massive passages and routes from the center circle to your goalkeeper,if you do that, it is offensive,derogatory and classless of our bench to expect players like Bale to fail to exploit, quite easily such opportunities. If Spurs had failed to take 3 points home, then they would have been cursed or quite simply they would be cheaters. Rio was simply a victim of the lack of a holding midfielder and was reduced to the role of chasing Bale, and the Dutch guy. A role I fully expected him to fail and he did justice to logic by failing to chase and catch them. There’s a big difference between chasing and defending, with the former being a simple hopeful formality which is far much better than simply taking a chair and sitting behind goal. Which is what I’d have done if I was Rio or Evans.

    But I have to agree, the decision to take Kagawa off was a spectacular fail. Not really at the same level as the decision to start Giggs, but a great fail all the same. Bringing Hernandez on in the 91st minute was of great benefit to Spurs, as it simply helped in eating up precious seconds. Well semi precious at this point seeing we had taken off an attacking threat. Obviously, the team is greatly impeded by the bench and first has to work the miracle of defeating the tactics given to them, which any decent opposition do by simply walking onto the pitch. But believe it or not I believe our players are good enough to defeat the bench and the opposition. They nearly did that today,no thanks to the upright and that horrendous miss from Rvp. Or the party pooping withdrawal of Kagawa. How we find ourselves with only 2 losses is the reason I believe we can go far. The second half showed that we have players capable of overachieving

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