|DATE||Sunday 15th March 2015|
Tottenham travel to Old Trafford with a couple of good wins in the
league to show that the defeat against Chelsea in the League Cup
final will not necessarily be the end of their season.
Victories over Swansea City and QPR have pushed Spurs above Southampton and within reach of their opponents on Sunday - Manchester United. For the Red Devils, they will be looking to bounce back form their FA Cup quarter final defeat by Arsenal. They also have selection problems, with injuries and suspensions hitting their side. And it has not been a vintage season for the United team, although they are doing better than last season at the moment.
The impact that Louis van Gaal has has on the side is not all that the United faithful had hoped, with the style a problem as much as some of the results they have suffered. The slow movement of the ball, sometimes the long ball game and often the lack of shots on goal have all frustrated United supporters, with the tactics employed often baffling when the side need to turn a game around.
There are enough talented players in the home team to be able to put together a string of results, but they don't seem to have gelled this term, with the defence being a problem. This is a surprise, as they have a very good keeper behind them ,with David de Gea saving them on a number of occasions. The early experiment with youngster sin the back four has been forsaken, with Evans, Smalling and Jones more regularly chosen, but there are some who believe that they are over-rated. Bringing in Rojo after a good World Cup seemed a good move, but he has not always been the stalwart defender they thought they had signed. Brazilian Rafael might return after scoring against Tottenham's Under-21s this week, while Smalling, Jones and Rojo (if he passes a fitness test) will be their first choice defence.
The midfield might contain our former player Michael Carrick, who is playing deeper these days, but has a range of passing that can hurt other teams and he can set the tempo from his position. Wide men Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young might feature, although Valencia handed Arsenal their winning goal and Young is struggling with a knock. Both are tricky wingers and have given problems to Spurs' defence in the past, but they might have defensive duties of their own, with Spurs likely to break quickly on them.
The other two midfielders are likely to be Danny Blind, one of van Gaal's favourites and Juan Mata, a player who usually plays well against Spurs. Mata is a wonderful player, drifting across midfield to where he can do most damage, but within van Gaal's system, he might be more restricted in where he is allowed to roam. Blind is more defensive, but can get forward to join the attack. Neither is that fast, so Spurs might get some joy running at or past them.
Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Januzaj are all further options for United in midfield, although Fallaini has been used as a forward on occasions this season, while Herrera is a decent enough player and one who likes to get forward and can score goals.
Radamel Falcao missed some easy chances at the Lane and his ability has been questioned since he went on loan to United, but he is still a dangerous striker and with only the rookie James Wilson as an option, with van Persie injured, the role of Wayne Rooney's partner might be the Colombian's (at least to start with). With Cameron Cater-Vickers snuffing out the threat from him in the U21 game, perhaps the first team might not have too tough an afternoon.
Tottenham's away record has
been very good this season and with the two time Player of the Month
in their side, they have goals available. But the goals may
have to come from other sources, as United will close Harry down
very quickly if he gets on the ball, requiring other team-mates to
get in on the act. This happened at the Swansea game and the
other midfielders are capable of getting on the score-sheet.
United may find this a different Spurs team to the one they faced at
the Lane earlier this season in a 0-0 draw. It would be
nice if we beat them on their turf for a third successive season and
if Kane could get on the score-sheet for a sixth consecutive away
game, but however does and ensures Tottenham win, then it will be a
good afternoon's work. Albeit, it looks like they will have to
have a hard afternoon's work to earn the right to play.
|PREDICTION||Manchester United 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Tottenham once more have a full squad to choose from, with no injury problems.
UNITED TEAM NEWS :
The ban for the disgusting act of spitting rules Jonny Evans out of this match, along with Angel di Maria, who is banned for grabbing the referee in the FA Cup game last Monday. Injury to Robin van Persie (ankle) rules him out of the game, while Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young hope to pass fitness tests to be able to play.
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
Manchester United 3 (3) Tottenham Hotspur
Sunday 15th March 2015 Kick off 16.00
Fellaini 8m 20s
Carrick 18m 09s
Rooney 33m 21s
Mata (foul on Mason) 32
Rose (foul on Herrera) 72
|Crowd : 75,112||Weather : Chilly|
|Referee : Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)||Assistant Referees : Mr. S. Beck; Mr. H. Lennard|
|Fourth Official : Michael Oliver||-|
|Manchester United kicked off and played towards the East Stand end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90+3 minutes.|
|Manchester United :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
David de GEA
25 Antonio VALENCIA
8 Juan MATA
Andreas PEREIRA 77)
Hugo LLORIS (c)
Ryan MASON (11
Erik LAMELA 64)
Nacer CHADLI (10
18 Harry KANE
|Manager : Louis van Gaal||Manager : Mauricio Pochettino|
|Sponsor : Nike||Shirt sponsor : AIA|
|Kit Supplier : Chevrolet||Kit Supplier : Under Armour|
Not a lot to write home about from an away game for a change, as the status quo returned with Manchester United steam-rollering a pale shadow of the Spurs side we have come to know and the 3-0 half-time score could easily have been worse, but at least Tottenham showed a little more in the second period, without any end result.
With only one change to the Spurs side, you might have expected that they would be more settled, but the enforced changes Louis van Gaal had to put into place appeared to make United a more dynamic unit, with the ponderous and disappointing di Maria and Evans out, along with Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo making way.
Almost before the game had started, Slurs were behind, but they could so easily have been in front. Within two minutes, pressure on Phil Jones, he hit a firm back-pass wide of de Gea, but not of the goal and only a late lunge with his foot by the Spanish keeper kept the ball out at the expense of a corner. From it, a low ball played into the near post by Townsend was allowed to run across the six yard box by being left at the front stick and Harry Kane tried to turn on it, but might have taken it away from Vertonghen behind him, who could have had a clear shot on.
As it was, United began to ping the ball around with pace and this took out a number of our players, with Walker experiencing a tough time against the United left hand side, with Townsend not giving a lot of protection in front of him. Nine minutes had gone when the home team struck, with a simply made goal. A straight pass through the Spurs back four left Fellaini through in the left hand side of the area, after his run had not been tracked, giving him the chance to shoot low past Lloris' left hand and into the bottom corner of the net for 1-0. The usually good picking up of opponents was distinctly missing as a straight ball cut through the back four.
United might have done better a minute before, when Rooney went down the left wing and pulled a low ball back, but it went behind Mata and too far in front of Herrera, so Spurs managed to survive that one. Tottenham's midfield was getting by-passed as United played the ball wide and moved to receive the return pass, with Fellaini being their target man for the out ball. Spurs were chasing shadows as they tried to close down the red shirts, but their movement made it difficult to keep up with them.
In the 19th minute, United extended their lead with a goal from a corner, where Spurs were slow to react. Mata played a high ball in for Fellaini to win a header, although it looked like he was pushing down on Dier. The ball struck Nacer Chadli and as it bounced up off his leg, Michael Carrick ran in to plant a header wide of Hugo and into the bottom right corner of the goal to double their advantage.
After a break in the 27th minute, Fellaini played a low ball across the six yard box and Rose slid in at the far post, but left the ball, which confused Mata who was behind him and had a real good shooting chance if he had been alive to the situation. Shortly after that, Pochettino decided that he had to shore up the right side and replaced Townsend with Dembele, but initially, this had little effect. Mason nearly got away after he turned Mata, but the United midfielder cynically brought him down and was booked for it. But Tottenham literally set up the third United goal, with Bentaleb playing a lazy ball across midfield, which was picked up by Rooney, who drove at Vertonghen and then brushed past Dier to slot home past Lloris' right when into the box. This was too reminiscent of games past at Old |Trafford, when Clattenburg has been ref.
With ten minutes to half time and 0-3 behind, the team looked well beaten already. Rooney could have two more before the break, putting a weak volley wide form Fellaini's good cross and then curling wide when well-placed inside the area. The half-time break would not have been long enough for Pochettino to get across what he wanted for the second half, but despite the score-line, the teams took to the field with the Tottenham fans in good voice.
Kane was getting scant service from his team-mates and the United back four were on him as soon as he received the ball, with Christian Eriksen not getting in the game and not providing the supply of quality balls that the other attacking players needed. Rooney threatened when an intended forward pass fell for him and his shot went way too high, then Blind ran onto a cross that beat everyone and Bentaleb threw himself to block the shot. Herrera hit the side-netting when coming in from their right, being picked out with a long cross from the left, thankfully not being able to finish from a tight angle.
In between Tottenham had their first shot at goal, when Chadli played the ball to Mason, who stepped inside a challenge and hit a shot from the edge of the box, but dragged it left of the goal. Herrera had a low shot fly a yard wide of LLoris' right hand post, but Tottenham had the ball in more advanced positions for a change, although they created little to trouble de Gea. He was forced into his first save a minute from the end of the match. Lamela played a neat pass to his right to put Kane through on the right of the box and from a narrow angle, he drove low to the keeper's near post, but de Gea managed to sit on the ball as it threatened to squeeze underneath him.
For once, van Gaal got his team selection and tactics right and other teams might look at this when they play Spurs. I hope that we will not put in such an insipid performance between now and the end of the season, as it will lead to us missing out on European football altogether. The break of the ball went United's way for the most of the time and Clattenburg was leaning towards the home side in most situations. Substitute Pereira chopped down Danny Rose and the ref indicated that he could have that one, but then he later nearly took Bentaleb's head with a high boot. Similarly, a studs up challenge on Mason's thigh by Fellaini didn't even get a free-kick.
All being said, Spurs did well ... did well to make Phil Jones and Chris Smalling look like world-class players. And to allow the United side to play like world-beaters, with the pressing game fading soon after the first five minutes and a couple of players having complete 'mares. Little blame could be attached to Hugo Lloris, who must be getting fed up with conceding goals, but few other members of the team can claim a lot of positives out of the game. Lamela must have been our best tackler and he was only on the pitch for 26 minutes. I suppose we should be glad the score didn't get worse after the interval, but that was as much down to United taking their foot off the pedal.
Tottenham were poor today and helped United with no immediacy in their movement or accuracy in use of the ball. Unite din turn, put in their best performance of the season, whereas on another day, when they weren't this good and we were, it might have been different. This should be turned into a useful exercise by looking at what the team did wrong and making sure it doesn't happen too often in the future ... and the near future at that.
We can't afford slip-ups against the top sides now, let alone those in the bottom half we still have to play.
Manchester United are big
in Japan, but in the Eastern country's language, it means "team from
the South West regions".
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|What you thought|
take offence to Grame Souness' comments on Sky Sports analysis of
the game today.
He slags off Mourinho (quite rightly) for his team's antics in Europe in mid-week, but then he advised Eric Dier that he should have fouled Rooney before he got the third goal for United, stating that he was outside the box and should have taken a yellow card for the sake of the team.
While every other team,
including United today, foul cynically when players get away from
them, perhaps Souness should be a little more even-handed in his
comments and continue criticising those who play outside the laws of
the game ... whoever they play for.
|Other scores during this week :|
|Arsenal||3||West Ham United||0||Saturday|
|Leicester City||0||Hull City||0||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||1||Stoke City||0||Saturday|
|10||West Ham United||29||10||9||10||38||38||39||0|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||29||8||9||12||27||36||33||-9|
Position before match :
Position after match : 7th
Position after the weekend : 7th
* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.
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