OPPONENTS Manchester United 
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Wednesday 31st January 2018
VENUE Wembley
2.  Victor LINDELOF
3.  Eric BAILLY
4.  Phil JONES
5.  Marcos ROJO
6.  Paul POGBA
7.  Alexis SANCHEZ
8.  Juan MATA
9.  Romelu LUKAKU
11.  Anthony MARTIAL
12.  Chris SMALLING
14.  Jesse LINGARD
16.  Michael CARRICK
17.  Daley BLIND
18.  Ashley YOUNG
19.  Marcus RASHFORD
20.  Sergio ROMERO
21.  Ander HERRERA
23.  Luke SHAW
25.  Antonio VALENCIA 
27.  Marouane FELLAINI
31.  Nemanja MATIC
36.  Matteo DARMIAN
39.  Scott McTOMINAY
40. Joel Castro PEREIRA
PREVIEW Anyone who has been following football for a while will be aware of the tactic of "parking the bus".  Once a way of approaching a game which brought derision form Jose Mourinho, the way of playing is now used by him when needs demand.  Not that he was averse to employing it before, as his Porto side beat Glasgow Celtic to win the UEFA Cup.

Will Mourinho pull United back into their shell or try to out-play Spurs ?  He is canny enough to know that a draw will keep his side out of reach of the chasing pack, with easier games on the horizon, while for Spurs this is the start of a two week period that will show what domestic success might be forthcoming this season.

United have been bolstered by the saga signing of the winter in Alexis Sanchez, who is guaranteed to get the pantomime booing.  It will be interesting to see how he fits into the United side, with a number of higher profile players in the team and with his ability to not get involved in the game.  With Lukaku, Rashford and Martial all vying for forward spots in the line-up, Sanchez will need to justify his move to Old Trafford, otherwise, he might find himself side-lined.  With a number of  midfielders all fighting for starting positions, United might find some disgruntled players come the summer, as they will want to be playing.  Mata, Matic, Lingard, Herrera, Carrick, Pogba and Fellaini might be looking to move on, but where United will be by then is anyone's guess. 

Much depends on their defence, which is suspect, despite a lot of clean sheets lately.  De Gea in goal is a fine keeper, but there are weaknesses in the back four, with Lindehof never really settled since he moved in the summer, Smalling and Jones have never realised the potential United bought them for and Darmian and Valencia have deficiencies when they are keen on attacking, but leave spaces in behind them.  Young has been playing at full back, but is not a natural and if you get at him, there are options to go past him, while Shaw is in and out of the side while Mourinho makes his mind up about whether he is sure about the left back.

Trying to grab something on the break, United will squeeze the life out of the game and having struggled to get a draw at Newport County, it will be tough for Tottenham to break Man U down, although a few more first teamers will be back to strengthen the Spurs side.  Eriksen has the passing and vision to open them up, but a key player could be Son, whose ability to go at players and commit them, opens up space for himself and for others. 

I don't expect an open, slowing game and it might be a bit like the last game at the Lane, hopefully, with the same outcome.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    1         Manchester United    0
LAST SEASON'S MEETING For a look back at the corresponding match report from last season, click here.
RESULTS HISTORY Click here for results, match reports and facts on meetings with Manchester United
Tottenham will still be missing Serge Aurier (calf), Harry Winks (ankle) and Toby Alderweireld, as he is not yet match fit, but Danny Rose, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Hugo Lloris all return to the first team squad after missing a few games each with various injuries or illness.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly are both ruled out by injury.

BT Sport 1 - (live coverage)
Match of the Day 1  (BBC 1) - Wednesday 22.45 (highlights)  Also available online.

For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.

Radio :  
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Commentary may be found on
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TalkSport (DAB or 2nd89 MW)
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If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne)
SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 15.00 matches
Australia (Sydney) 
Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
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South Africa 
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Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean) 
Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Wednesday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :
The THFC Official website   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London -  Live commentaries listed down the page.
TalkSport (DAB or 2nd89 MW)

Tottenham Hotspur  2 (2)                                                                       
Premier League
Wednesday 31st January 2018
Manchester United  0 (0)

Kick off 20:00
Eriksen  0m 11s
Jones (o.g.)  27m 48s
Dembele (foul on Lingard)  13
Dele  (foul on Sanchez)  85


Jones  (foul on Kane)  38
Young  (foul on Son)  73


Crowd :   81,978 Weather :  Cold, dry
Referee :  Andre Marriner (West Midlands) Assistant Referees :  Mr. S. Ledger; Mr. S. Beck
Fourth Official :  Graham Scott  
Spurs kicked off and played towards the East Stand end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 7 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Manchester United : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  2  Kieran TRIPPIER
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
33  Ben DAVIES

15  Eric DIER
19  Mousa DEMBELE       (12  Victor WANYAMA  90+1)

  7  Heung-Min SON  (11  Erik LAMELA  88)
20  DELE Alli       (17  Moussa SISSOKO  88)
Christian ERIKSEN 

10  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
13  Michel VORM

  3  Danny ROSE
18  Fernando LLORENTE

    1  David de GEA

25  Antonio VALENCIA  (c)     
4  Phil JONES   
12  Chris SMALLING
18  Ashley YOUNG     

  6  Paul POGBA  (  8  Juan MATA  63)
31  Nemanja MATIC

11  Anthony MARTIAL
14  Jesse LINGARD  (27  Marouane FELLAINI  63  [21  Ander HERRERA  70])
  7  Alexis SANCHEZ

  9  Romeu LUKAKU

Unused subs: 
20  Sergio ROMERO
23  Luke SHAW
  5  Marcos ROJO
19  Marcus RASHFORD


Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  Jose Mourinho
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  Chevrolet
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   adidas
Match report

What looked on paper like a match that would fail  to ignite, in reality saw Spurs turn the key and go from 0 to 1 in 11 seconds, while Jose Mourinho was still thinking about parking the bus and his team were clearly not on board with whatever directions they had been given.  The road must have seemed even longer when Phil Jones drove a Trippier cross past a stationary de Gea, with the majority of the match featuring one-way traffic towards the United goal.

2-0 was a score-line that flattered Manchester United - a bit like the highlights on Match of the Day, but for those who were there, it was another Real Madrid moment.  Not just recording a win, but comprehensively playing United to a standstill, where, at the end of the game, Tottenham were passing the ball for fun around dead on their feet red shirts and throwing in some nutmegs and back-flicks.  The early goal obviously helped, but United's players failed to carry out the basics of the game.  And that helped Spurs.

United's team looked set up to attack, with a three behind Lukaku that included Martial, Sanchez and Lingard.  However, Mourinho's mistake is playing Pogba as a defensive midfielder, where he fails to shine, being a more effective player in the space behind the main striker.  But even then, his poor passing and lack of marking heaped pressure on the back four, who had somehow kept six straight clean sheets.  With Jones and Smalling, you always have a chance and that is what Spurs had obviously been working on.  Before the game, one of the drills is for a player to pass forward, another to stop it and a third to shoot at goal.  Normally this is set up for right foot shots, but they threw in a session with players coming in from the right to hit a left foot shot at goal and curl it past the keeper.  They all mainly did this very well.

So, when the game kicks off, Jan hits a long diagonal ball up to Kane, who beats Jones in the air to flick the ball on.  Dele gets to it first on the right of the goal, flicks it back inside him with a neat back-heel and Eriksen hadn't been tracked, leaving him alone on the edge of the six yard box to curl the ball into the wide open space to de Gea's right and to put Spurs ahead in 10.9 seconds.  The curler with his left foot had been drilled into him in that pre-match session and the goal raised the roof, although many were not inside to see it due to problems on the Underground.

It was a start that Tottenham couldn't have dreamed of, but United tried to get back into the match with Young swinging a cross in from the left and Lukau missing it with a stretching foot, although he was offside and then Pogba slid Lingard in, but a crucial touch by Vertonghen took the ball into the air and when the United midfielder got onto it, Hugo was on top of him and diverted his foot wide with his foot.  Then, before five minutes clocked up, Son went past Jones, but was prevented going any further by de Gea rushing out of his box. 

Even this early in the game, Andre Marriner showed a remarkable leniency, to which he added inconsistency later on.  Valencia went through Son from behind with a rough tackle, but the ref didn't even see this as a free-kick, let alone the booking it deserved.  As United tried to push on, the spurs defence were dealing very well with passes into the forwards, but the pressure applied further up the pitch was forcing a lot of over-hit passes that the United players were hitting.  Jones managed to block shots by Eriksen and Son, before the visitors broke from a Spurs corner and Dembele got booked for his first tackle bringing down Lingard just inside the Spurs half.

From Tottenham's next corner, Trippier had his foot stamped on by Young long after the ball had gone and  very close to the penalty box, but once more Marriner awarded nothing, so when Kane did much the same to Sanchez as he broke away, it was a free-kick.  The decisions he wasn't making were getting under the players' skin. 

Back to the action, Lukaku managed to stumble through a challenge into the box, so Hugo rushed out to meet him.  Wary of giving a way a penalty, he stopped before he got to the Belgian striker, who had tried to back-heel it for Martial behind him, but he only managed to stop the ball and Lloris pounced on it to prevent any danger.   Martial himself had a good chance 20 minutes in, as he came in from the right hand side, but he wildly shot over the bar as he came inside 15 yards out and wasted the opening.  Tottenham were the more fluent side, using the width of the pitch to pull United out of  their positions, with most of the attacking coming down Kieran Trippier's side.  Dele passed the ball right to Christian Eriksen, whose first time pass was forward into Kane, who took a touch and an early low shot, but it didn't have enough power in it to squeeze under de Gea.  Then Dele almost set up Heung-Min, as Tottenham broke away, but his square ball from the right of the D took a flick off Jones' heel to prevent reaching Sonny.

It was only brief respite, as a fine passing move worked the ball from the middle of the pitch, through Dembele, Eriksen and Dele to Trips on the right wing, from where he played an early ball in low with pace with the intention of finding Kane coming into the six yard box in the middle.  Phil Jones had done well to deny Harry his 100th Premier League goal, but he succeeded in clinically ramming the ball past De Gea at his near post and putting Tottenham 2-0 into the lead.  It was some finish, as it was hard to see how he hadn't managed to put it off for a corner, but he used his right foot, the one nearest the ball and still managed to find the net.  It was just reward for such a powerful performance by Spurs.

Immediately, United tried to get a goal back, with Martial taking on Sanchez, but this time he went for the near post and Hugo was alert to get a strong hand to the ball and push it into the side-netting.  There was another chance from the resulting corner, as it was headed back across goal to Pogba, who was standing alone, but he seemed unwilling to go in where the boots were flying and ended up prodding a shot ten feet over the bar.  It was all attack with little play bogged down in midfield, as Trippier picked off a loose pass and ran straight at the heart of the United defence. As he got to the edge of the box, he played the ball forward for Dele to get on the end of it, but he was upended by Valencia, looking all the world like a penalty, but without VAR, the referee waved play on.  Ben Davies was reading the United passes very well and was intercepting them, heading one forward to Harry, who played Son through, but he fired his effort way too high.  Marriner angered the Spurs section of the crowd, when Dier won the ball in the United half with a tackle on Pogba, but even though the ball did not run to a United player to play advantage, he pulled it back for a foul as late as some of the United tackles in the second half.  Surprisingly, he did book Jones, who went through Kane but then let Young get away with kicking Eriksen and Trippier in the same phase of play and only gave a free-kick.  Eriksen picked out Eric Dier's head with it and the Spurs midfielder got to it first, heading powerfully, but off target.

United's main tactic seemed to be to scare Son off with some rough treatment and Valencia again escaped punishment for a tackle that left the Korean on the floor needing attention.  Added time of two minutes was to be played and it might have been 3-0 at the break, but Kane's burst between Smalling and Jones could only produce a low shot that de Gea got down to keep out.  One of my friends said it wouldn't be a good idea to be 4-0 up against United at half-time after what happened back in 2001, but this side is a pale shadow of that team and while the next goal in the game would be crucial, the way they were playing showed a massive disconnect between all sections of their team.

Then it was time to draw breath.  Out new 23 million pound man was introduced to us at half-time, having signed a five and a half year deal, with a free Spurs scarf thrown in it would seem.  Hopefully, he will be able to add something different to the side and deepens the quality in the squad.

The weather was turning distinctively chilly as the second half kicked off, but the way Spurs were playing warmed the cockerels of your heart.  Even the beauty of a superbly timed tackle wasn't going amiss, as Jan prevented Martial getting a shot off in the box with a well judged foot in.  On 48 minutes, Dele produced his first nutmeg of the night with Matic the victim, as he has been in the past.  The Spurs midfielder made an even more telling contribution with a cute ball through to Harry Kane, whose heel took the ball back into the path of Son, but his shot was dragged wide and his next major involvement in the match saw United vainly appealing for a penalty, when Alexis Sanchez headed the ball down and it hit Son's hand.  Tottenham were starting to hit on the break, with Jan stepping out with the ball and after running 50 yards with it, laying it off to Dele.  He picked out a really good pass to Kane and he swept a shot at goal, but it went about a yard wide across de Gea's goal.  

At the other end, Lloris had the hardest save for him to make all might, as Davies held Lukaku up, but couldn't prevent him shooting at goal across Hugo from the left of the goal.  Lloris' reactions were quick enough to get a hand to it and get the ball up and over the bar with an excellent stop.  Mourinho made a double switch, with Fellaini and Mata coming on for Pogba and Lingard.  At this stage of the match the tackles began to fly.  Ben Davies seemed to have had enough of being Mr. Nice Guy and was ferocious in his challenges on Sanchez in the centre circle, while the former Arsenal man seemed fair game for a heavy challenge - many of which his theatrics turned into free-kicks.  It is a long time since I have seen one player on the other side given such a hard time and although he was ineffective for the large part of the game, he disappeared cone the going got tough and was left throwing his hands in the air when he was the only one chasing down Spurs players on the ball.

Eriksen fizzed a drive from 25 yards out inches wide of de Gea's right hand post and Davies strode forward to hit a low effort straight at the keeper.  Kane had a shot when Dee's pass to Eriksen was left for the goal-machine, but he again failed to get much meat behind it.  Another passing movement opened United with Eriksen putting the ball on a plate to Son, who chose to shoot and see the ball bounce off de Gea's arm that was down by his side, as he stood up to the shot, but Harry was free square in the middle and wanted a pass to finish off the match.  There was still 20 minutes to go and time to see out, but United options were limited, when Fellaini had to go off with an injury he picked up shortly after coming on just seven minutes before.  injured was what Son was lucky to not end up, when Young for the umpteenth time in the match, left a Spurs player kicked after the ball was nowhere to be seen. 

Tottenham were controlling the game and even when United did get into out back third, they failed to threaten.  a corner saw Eriksen break and set up Kane, but he again shot over the bar,  while he was denied a shot on target by Smalling's sliding  block.   Son was spared any more treatment from the United defenders as Lamela came on for the final ten minutes and he fitted in straight away, with some neat passing and a nice line in back-heels, as Spurs passed United to death.  Dele had a free kick and not the sort the referee gives, as he swung at the ball and got Alexis Sanchez instead.  It provoked the ex-Gooner to square up to him ,but Lamela got in between the quickly to ensure things didn't develop for the worst.  It was the last thing Dele did in the game, as he was substituted shortly after, with Sissoko coming on in a good move by Pochettino. 

Kane was brought down by Valencia from behind (again no yellow), but he got up to take the free kick, but ballooned it over the bar.  After that it was keep-ball by Spurs, as they ran the clock down and the legs off United, with "Oles" ringing around Wembley as the away section emptied as they went off to get the Tube home to various locations around the South-East.  Dembele went off to a well-deserved reception as he had his best game of the season, looking like the Mousa we know and love.  United had one last attack, but Lukaku, who looked less than dangerous all night, fouled Ben Davies to snuff out that opportunity.

The 2-0 result was just what Spurs need to close the gap, with both Arsenal and Chelsea losing, but more than anything it was the performance that I hope will give them great confidence for the upcoming games at Liverpool and at home to the Goons.  It was such an energetic and dominant display that United had nowhere to go and their mental strength must be very fragile if they were knocked back by Tottenham's second goal.  Frankly, if it had been 8-0 Mourinho couldn't have complained and to give him his due, he didn't whinge too much in his post match interview and he did stay until the final whistle to embrace Poch.

There were fine performances throughout the team.  The back four were superb; getting in before the ball got to United players and when it did, producing telling tackles to ensure they didn't get much further.  Lloris didn't have much to so, but made two very good saves, a couple of quick interventions and one rush to the edge of his box, when he had the presence of mind to punch the ball as he slid out rather than handle outside the box (although it was mighty close).  Dembele was immense and Dier gets a lot of criticism, but his importance with his tackling and taking the ball forward can be over-looked at times.  Eriksen was the hub that everything revolved around tonight, with Son and Dele both giving United numerous problems with their movement and  interplay.  Up front Harry might not have scored, but he shattered the confidence of the two centre-halves, who barely won much fairly against him.  It was a fine team performance and the chest bumping before the game showed that they were up for the win tonight.

Most of all Pochettino tactically got the better of Mourinho, who failed to effect a change to the team. almost as though he was resigned to being defeated.

It was another great Wembley night to remember and Spurs are finally "home" there.  They need to keep that form going at home and translate it away, as a win in our next game would be very useful.

Stanford Rivers

The attendance of 81,978 was a record for a Premier League match and a record for a Spurs home league game.

Christian Eriksen scored his 50th Spurs goal and it was the third fastest in Premier League history.




Manchester United once went a whole season of their Premier League history without spending GBP50 million in one of the transfer windows on new players.


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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Huddersfield Town 0 Liverpool 3 Tuesday
Swansea City 3 Arsenal 1 Tuesday
West Ham United London 1 Crystal Palace 1 Tuesday
Chelsea 0 Bournemouth 3 Wednesday
Everton 2 Leicester City 1 Wednesday
Manchester City 3 West Bromwich Albion 0 Wednesday
Newcastle United 1 Burnley 1 Wednesday
Southampton 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Wednesday
Stoke City 0 Watford 0 Wednesday


League Table  2017-18
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 25 22 2 1 73 18 68 +55
2 Manchester United 25 16 5 4 49 18 53 +31
3 Liverpool 25 14 8 3 57 30 50 +28
4 Chelsea 25 15 5 5 45 19 50 +26
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 25 14 6 5 49 22 48 +27
6 Arsenal 25 12 6 7 46 34 42 +12
7 Burnley 25 9 8 8 20 22 35 -2
8 Leicester City 25 9 7 9 37 34 34 +3
9 Everton 25 8 7 10 28 40 31 -12
10 Watford 25 7 6 12 33 44 27 -11
11 West Ham United London 25 6 9 10 31 43 27 -12
12 AFC Bournemouth 25 7 7 11 28 36 28 -8
13 Crystal Palace 25 6 8 11 23 37 25 -15
14 Huddersfield Town 25 6 6 13 19 45 25 -22
15 Newcastle United 25 6 6 13 23 35 24 -12
16 Brighton & Hove Albion 25 5 9 11 18 34 24 -16
17 Swansea City 25 6 5 14 18 36 23 -18
18 Stoke City 25 6 6 13 25 50 24 -25
19 Southampton 25 4 11 10 25 36 23 -11
20 West Bromwich Albion 25 3 11 11 19 34 20 -16

Position before match :  5th
Position after match :  5th

* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone might think so.


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