|DATE||Saturday 29th September 2012|
From the sublime to the ridiculous, as Spurs swap one United in Carlisle foe another in Manchester. And waiting there for them is a powerful attacking line-up, but one that looks a little thin on the ground at the back after recent knee injury to Nemaja Vidic adds to the already ruled out Phil Jones (knee) and Chris Smalling (foot).
With wingers Ashley Young (knee) and Antonio Valencia (ankle) also out, it could be a changed Manchester United side that faces Spurs, with Wayne Rooney having returned in the midweek League Cup win over Newcastle in midfield.
Spurs have to put aside the concerns about their dodgy first few results to give a performance against United that shows they can compete at the top with their first meeting against a decent side this season. The key will be the service and support to lone striker Jermain Defoe and this means that the midfield have to function as two units, with the two in front of the back four mobile enough to break forward and the three in midfield just behind Defoe needing to appreciate that their tracking back will be important to help out the defensive half of the team.
I am sure that AVB will go with the 4-2-3-1 formation away from home, despite the success of the switch to 4-4-2 at half-time against QPR at home, so the team need to still develop into the system, but do so quickly. If we allow United the possession we afforded Rangers last weekend, we could find ourselves considerably more than one down at the break.
United have not been firing on all cylinders yet this season, with a torpid first half against Liverpool and a not too convincing 2-1 home win over Newcastle on Wednesday in the League Cup. This may be a good time to play them, but then again, for Tottenham, is it ever a good time to play them at Old Trafford ?? The players have to regard them as just another team and go into the match with no preconceptions about what might happen, as United can be beaten there as teams (admittedly not many) have won there over the years.
With Rafael a player who is over-coming a knock and Evra/Buttner on the other flank at full back, attacking through these areas may test their resolve and the Spurs defence will need to be alert to the movement of the United forwards, with Welbeck, Chicarito and van Persie all capable of dropping deep or wide to get the ball.
With a good performance, Spurs could get something out of this game, but United are used to grinding out wins or getting the rub of the green (especially against Spurs) at Old Trafford, so a narrow victory for United is the most likely outcome.
|PREDICTION||Manchester United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
Knee injury victims Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic are all side-lined for this game, along with Chris Smalling (foot) and Antonio Valencia (ankle).
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Still out for Spurs are Scott Parker (Achilles), Kyle Naughton (foot), Younes Kaboul (knee), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee), Emmanuel Adebayor (hamstring) and Jake Livermore (groin), but Kyle Naughton (leg) hopes to be able to be selected at left back.
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Manchester United 2 (0)
Saturday 29th September 2012
Venue : Old Trafford
Tottenham Hotspur 3 (2)
Kick off 17:30
|Crowd : 75,566||Weather : Dry, mild|
|Referee : Chris Foy (St. Helens)||Assistant Referees : A. Garrett, A. Lennard|
|Fourth Official : Mark Clattenburg|
|Tottenham Hotspur kicked off and played towards the Stretford end in the first half.|
|Manchester United :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
18 Jermain DEFOE (20 Michael DAWSON 90)
|Manager : Alex Ferguson||Manager : Andre Villas-Boas|
|Sponsor : Aon||Shirt sponsor : Aurasma|
|Kit Supplier : Nike||Kit Supplier : Under Armour|
For once at Old Trafford, fortune favoured the brave Tottenham and how ironic that the man who denied Spurs a win back at United's home in 1999 when he failed to award Pedro Mendes' goal - Mark Clattenburg - was the fourth official to see how things could have been had he been on his game. And that is what Tottenham were today, working all over the pitch and enjoying a slice of luck here and there as they put in a hard-working second half to ensure they came away with a 3-2 win.
The fact that Spurs took the game to United from the start was the way we should play more often. There was a realisation that United had not been performing to the top of their form so far this season and the slow starts they have made caught them on the hop as Spurs took a second minute lead. Having kicked off the first touch United had was when Jonny Evans flung himself to the floor and deflected the ball via his arm past Lindegaard to give Spurs a flying start. Jan Vertonghen got the ball at left back on the halfway line, swapped passes with Gareth Bale and ran from 30 yards out at the United goal. With Carrick and Rafael unable to get a foot in on the Belgian as he ran towards the box, he had a little luck as his touch looked like it might get away from him, but Rio Ferdinand wasn't quick enough to get across to him. Making the most of the opportunity, Jan struck a low shot that would have gone to Lindegaard's left, but the deflection (which must have been a penalty if it hadn't gone in) took it past him on his right to make it 1-0 after 84 seconds and bring wild celebrations in front of the stunned Stretford end.
To say Spurs couldn't have hoped for a better start is an understatement, but we have been here before with Man U and there is always some outrageous decision waiting to trip us up. However, the way that Tottenham dominated possession and moved the ball around in the first half was almost as big an embarrassment to United as the score-line. The chances were coming too, with Dembele setting up Dempsey to shoot just wide and then Lennon went on another run into the heart of the United defence from right to left and his shot was deflected wide by Ferdinand's intervention.
The home team had chosen to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench, so one of our other nemeses was leading the United line, but van Persie's effectiveness was limited after a crunching 12th minute tackle by Gallas when the former Arsenal striker was about to shoot from eight yards out left him needing treatment and he looked as though the knock affected him for the rest of the game.
A period of about twenty minutes saw both sides getting forward, but the quality of the crossing and finishing meant that there wasn't a serious threat on goal. However, that was interrupted when a United attack on the left side reached the edge of the box as the ball went to van Persie, but Sandro wrapped a leg around him to cleanly take the ball. It went to Mousa Dembele, who had been a pain in United's side when Fulham played there on the opening day of the season. He ran out with the ball and fed it to Gareth Bale on the halfway line. Seeing an opportunity to run at what had been a nervy Reds defence, he moved forward with the ball as they backed off. He was running down the middle of the pitch, but as Jermain Defoe took Jonny Evans away to the left with a good run, it opened up the right hand channel for Bale to ease past the lumbering Ferdinand. Making the penalty area, Gareth took an early shot with his right foot and while not connecting as cleanly as he might have hoed, the ball was wide enough of Lindegaard's right hand as it went across him to find the bottom corner of the net to make it 2-0 with 33 minutes on the clock.
United looked deflated, as their defence had opened up and couldn't live with the pace that Tottenham had. The partnership between Ferdinand and Evans was leaving Spurs with space to make the most of and that is just what they did. The only real worry Spurs had was a few minutes before the break, when the bal reached Paul Scholes in the penalty area and he lobbed the ball over his head to where Nani was running. Vertonghen went with him, but seemed to be pulling at his shirt and the Portuguese winger hit the floor. Sandro booted the ball out for a corner and that was what referee Chris Foy gave. Interesting in two aspects, as Foy denied Spurs a win at Stoke last season with some bizarre decisions, with Nani scoring a dodgy goal at Old Trafford a couple of seasons ago when he had handled the ball, but Clattenburg didn't give it - waving play on and he nicked the ball off Gomes, as he put the ball down for a free-kick. Perhaps there is some justice, but we are still owed a fair bit of that at the Theatre of Screams.
A goal then might have changed things, but the half-time whistle brought a chance to regroup. When the sides came out again, Spurs had to face Wayne Rooney, who had replaced the aging Giggs, who failed to make any impact in the game. United looked a different proposition, with more attacking intent and a new impetus that pushed Spurs back. While Rooney couldn't get on the end of Scholes long pass into the box early in the half, it was five minutes in when he did have a part to play. Spurs were sitting a little deeper and when United moved the ball out right, Rooney was there to put in a low cross towards the near post that took Vertonghen out and where Nani got in ahead of Gallas to volley past Freidel from close range. Making it 2-1 was a little harsh, as Brad had little to do before the goal.
It seemed like the tide might be turning against Spurs, much as it had done so many times before at Old Trafford. But as United attacked, the ball came out to Sandro, who played a fine raking 60 yard pass from deep in his own half on the right to Defoe up on the left. Bringing the ball down, with Ferdinand behind him, Jermain was on his own up top. However, Bale surged forward to support him and as Defoe moved infield, he played a cute reverse pass into his path just inside the left hand corner of the box. With Dempsey up with him and square for a pass, Bale smashed a shot low to Lindegaard's left and although the keeper did well to dive to save the effort, his parry took the ball straight into Clint's path and he had the simple task of side-footing the ball into an empty net. So within a minute, Spurs had restored their 3-1 lead and it looked like a win might be on the cards after 23 long years.
Those thoughts were put on hold as a third goal in 140 seconds pegged Spurs back to 3-2. Once more, United had lots of space in front of the Tottenham box and van Persie picked out Shingi Kagawa's run into the area and with Walker on his wrong side, he side-footed low to Freidel's left and the ball went in off the post to narrow the margin once more. It was a blow after just scoring and proved that both sides were vulnerable just after scoring.
After all the excitement, you wondered if it could carry on at this rate, but after exchanging off target shots, the next chance came from United when they got a free-kick on the hour after a foul on Kagawa right in the middle of the pitch about 25 yards out. Rooney stepped up to hit it over the wall and with Brad stretching, the ball came back off the post and was cleared away.
A couple of minutes later, United had a goal disallowed when van Persie was well offside, but Spurs were inviting United onto them and historically, this has not been a good tactic. A corner was bouncing around as Sandro turned around to find the ball, it popped up onto his arm and the Norwich supporters in the crowd howled for a penalty, but like last week, when Shaun Wright-Phillips did the same, the shouts were waved away. At last some consistency between referees. Rooney shot wide after a sharp turn about ten yards out, as Spurs had rare forays into the home side's half and when they did, they amounted to nothing.
With twenty minutes to go, it looked like all the hard work might b for nothing, as van Persie was played through in the left side of the box on his own by Carrick, but his shot went well wide to the other side of Brad's goal. Having survived that Freidel had to dive forward to save low from a Nani snapshot, the the winger put in a dangerous cross to the far post from the right, forcing Gallas to head away and collide with the post in the process. Spurs were defending with great courage and Steven Caulker, making his first Premier League start was winning most things in the air. Freidel did well to get behind a viciously swerving shot from 30 yards from Scholes, beating the ball out and the loose ball was hacked away to prevent any red shirt seizing on it.
Tottenham had another lucky break with five minutes to full time, as a corner was helped back into the box and Michael Carrick, who glanced a header on and it looped over everyone's head to bounce back down off the bar. A minute later there was an even better chance to level things, when Rafael crossed from the right and Evra ran in unmarked to have a header at goal, but he put it straight at Freidel.
Into added time, Spurs took the bal into the United half a couple of times, but there was an almost one way traffic flow towards the Tottenham goal, but only a sky high shot from Nani threatened the fans high in the Stretford End as they let out a collective groan.
This was in stark contrast to the Spurs end when the last whistle of the match sounded. An explosion of joy that signalled a result which had been waited for by so many for so long. A relief that the result went our way after all that has gone on at Old Trafford in previous years, but also that we have a good result against one of the top three ... not just away from home, but anywhere. This is what Villas-Boas had been brought in to do. Challenge against the teams who finished above us and while the first few games might have cast a little doubt, this result would signal that the Tottenham players are taking on board his ideas and now need to put them into practice on a regular basis.
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Stoke City||2||Swansea City||0||Saturday|
|Aston Villa||1||West Bromwich Albion||1||Sunday|
|West Ham United||-||-||-||-day|
|Queens Park Rangers||-||-||-||-day|
|6||West Bromwich Albion||6||3||2||1||8||5||11||+3|
|10||West Ham United||5||2||2||1||5||4||8||+1|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||5||0||2||3||3||11||2||-8|
Position before match :
Position after match : 5th
Position after the weekend :
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