OPPONENTS Manchester United
COMPETITION Premier League
Wednes Wednesday 1st January 2014
VENUE Old Trafford






What used to be a home banker has become a little more unpredictable in the last few years, culminating in Tottenham first win at Old Trafford last season for the first time in the Premier League.  This season sees two teams in transition with new managers and new players integrating into the side.  It should make for an interesting game, with both clubs enjoying a resurgence in form coming into the match.

Manchester United are six games unbeaten and Tottenham three, after an uncertain start for both sides.  The previous meeting, just a few weeks ago at the Lane, saw the points shared in a  2-2 draw, with Spurs starting off at a fair lick and United fortunately equalising, but then coming on stronger in the second half.  The majority of players will feature again and if referee Webb does his job and let's the game flow, it should be a good one for the neutral.

David De Gea has proved a solid keeper since his signing from Spain and while he has his moments like all keepers, his all round game is pretty good and the only weakness is on crosses, but we have little to trouble him in the air anyway.  In front of him, Johnny Evans has been the mainstay in the middle of the back four, in the absence of Rio Ferdinand, while he has been partnered by Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling, as injuries have hit them.  At full back, Moyes can choose between Rafael and Patrice Evra, while Alexander Buttner, who does not seem the greatest defensively (and is worryingly being linked with Spurs) at left back is another option.

Antonio Valencia, Adnan Januzaj and Tom Cleverley have partnered Jones in midfield up until his injury.   There are a variety of riches that Moyes can call into the side in this area of the team.  Michael Carrick, the returning from a chronic bowel condition Darren Fletcher, the gravity challenged Ashley Young, the elderly Ryan Giggs, the over looked (although anonymous at the Lane) Japanese international Shinji Kagawa and Brazilian outcast Anderson can also be played in the middle four with Nani and Jones injured.

Wayne Rooney has been given a role to drop deep if he needs to, but he is quick enough to join van Persie in attack when required.  But if United are without both of these strikers, Tottenham are likely to face Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck.  Both possess good movement and are smart in their positioning in the box, so Spurs will need to be aware of that and be quick to get back goal-side. 

It is not unusual to see Man U sitting above Spurs in the table, but it is unusual that it is only one place and that only on goal difference.  However, the gung-ho style that Tottenham have adopted since Tim Sherwood took over might get exposed if employed on New Year's Day.  I imagine that Sherwood will play a slightly more cautious side out and while I hope Spurs can get a point, I think United's home advantage might see them through (although - like us - they haven't been great at home this season).

PREDICTION Manchester United    2         Tottenham Hotspur    1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Paulinho joins the growing injury list at Tottenham, with ankle ligament damage keeping him out for four weeks.  Also sidelined are Sandro (calf), Younes Kaboul (thigh), Andros Townsend and Jermain Defoe (both hamstring), but Kyle Walker has served his one match suspension and will return, while Danny Rose could come back in at left back.
David Moyes is hoping to have both Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie fit for the game against Spurs, but Rooney faces a late fitness test, while van Persie may not be ready to play again just yet.  Nani is ruled out with a hamstring injury, while Phil Jones (knee), Maroaune Fellaini (thumb) and Rafael (groin) are also unavailable.

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Manchester United  1 (0)                                                                      Tottenham Hotspur  2 (1)
Premier League
Wednesday 1st January 2014                                                                                                        Kick off 17:30
Old Trafford
Welbeck 67
Adebayor 34
Eriksen 66
Rooney (foul on Dembele) 41
Januzaj (simulation) 89


Dembele (foul on Cleverly 81)


Crowd :   75,265 Weather :  Wet, but mild
Referee :  Howard Webb (West Yorkshire) Assistant Referees :  M. Mullarkey; D. Cann
Fourth Official :  Neil Swarbrick -
Spurs kicked off and attacked the Stretford End in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 6 minutes.
Manchester United : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  David DE GEA

12  Chris SMALLING  (26  Shinji KAGAWA  61)
15  Nemanja VIDIC (c)
  6  Jonny EVANS
3 Patrice EVRA

25  Antonio VALENCIA
23  Tom CLEVERLY  (18  Ashley YOUNG  84)
16  Michael CARRICK  (14  Javier HERNANDEZ  61)
44  Adnan JANUZAJ     

10  Wayne ROONEY     
19  Danny WELBECK 

Unused subs: 
28  Alexander BUTTNER

  25  Hugo LLORIS

  2  Kyle WALKER
20  Michael DAWSON (c)
  3  Danny ROSE

  7  Aaron LENNON
15  Etienne CAPOUE  (42  Nabil BENATLEB  64)
19  Mousa DEMBELE     
Christian ERIKSEN 

  9  Roberto SOLDADO  (37  Harry KANE  75)
10  Emmanuel ADEBAYOR    (21  Nacer CHADLI  70)

Unused subs: 
35  Zeki FRYERS
11  Erik LAMELA

Manager :  David Moyes Manager :  Tim Sherwood
Sponsor :   AON Shirt sponsor :  Hewlett Packard
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

A torrent of rain flooded across Old Trafford as games across the country were hit by the seasonal bad weather, but it eased off just before kick off as Spurs played a slick game in beating Manchester United 2-1 with a determined performance.

Tim Sherwood re-instated Kyle Walker after missing one game through suspension and Danny Rose came back into the other full back berth. With Paulinho put out of the game by some no-name from Stoke, Etienne Capoue slotted into midfield.

But Tottenham's replacements didn't end there. Naughton dropped out at the last minute and Ryan Fredericks had to take his place on the bench, then Lennon took an early kick on the ankle from Januzaj and Dawson turned a knee when chasing Danny Welbeck in the fifth minute to a through ball that Lloris had to rush out to block. The Spurs keeper was in action again a minute later when he got behind a shot from Chris Smalling coming in from the right, but the ball squirmed through him and bounced of him, but went wide.

Hugo was in action as soon as the first minute, when a long ball through saw him come to the edge of the box to dive low and forward to punch the ball away as Welbeck looked to get on the end of it. However, he was perilously close to the edge of the box when he did so and might have been carried forward by his momentum.

Thirteen minutes in, Spurs had their first effort on goal, as they had been pinned back by United. Starting in their own box, they played the ball out with Dembele nut-megging Valencia, before the ball went left to Adebayor and then infield to Soldado as he approached the edge of the box. The Spaniard spotted a cute pass inside Evra and Lennon was in on De Gea from 10 yards out, hitting it low first time, but the keeper blocked it with his legs. Then Rose found some space outside the area on the left and blazed a shot at goal, but it was way too high.

Dawson was doing well with some good interceptions as low balls came into the box or winning headers, but Adebayor wasn't holding the ball when it went forward and that meant that United's share of the possession was ever increasing. However, in the 32nd minute, Soldado challenged Vidic and the ball dropped for Ade, who hit it with great power, but it went a couple of feet over the top.

He did even better in the 34th minute, when his header saw the ball float back across goal and inside De Gea's left post. The move started deep with Walker and the ball was worked up to Soldado. He returned it to Christian Eriksen, who had continued his run beyond the striker on the right wing and then crossed to the far post, where Adebayor hung in the air to meet the precision ball and head in to give Tottenham a 1-0 lead.  Smalling was close to Ade, but failed to get off the floor to make a challenge.

It should have been 2-0 in the 39th minute, when Adebayor took a ball down from Capoue, set Lennon away past Evra and his low cross was met at the far post by Soldado, but as he slid in the ball came off his knee and went wide. Tottenham's pace and precise passing were certainly giving United problems at the back.   The pressure on the United defence was telling when Smalling gave away a soft corner and then Rooney had to clear Eriksen's corner for another.

So, at half time, Spurs led with Adebayor's goal, but you would guess that United would be more of a proposition in the second period. Welbeck almost proved that point at the start of the half when he got on the end of a lobbed ball into the Spurs box and flicked a volley at goal, but it wasn't powerful enough to trouble Lloris.

United kept the ball in when Rose was injured, with Welbeck going into the box and going down over an imaginary leg. Webb was wise to it, but failed to book the England forward for embarrassing diving. Moyes made early switches bringing on Kagawa for Smalling, with Valencia dropping back to right back and Hernandez on for Carrick, with Rooney going into midfield. Spurs added fresh legs with Bentaleb coming on for Capoue, who had done a great job bossing the centre of midfield with Dembele.

Spurs used the existing legs in the 66th minute, when a United move broke down and Walker played it out to Adebayor, who fed Lennon on the right. His speed took him into the box and although his cross was partially blocked, it bounced up nicely into the middle of the area for Christian Eriksen to dive in and head through De Gea's attempted save.  Valencia was slow to react and didn't realise that Eriksen was making the run in on the ball from behind him, so Moyes' tactic to put a midfielder at full back had back-fired on him.

Unfortunately, the two goal lead didn't last, as Welbeck was played through on the right and he dinked it over Lloris so it was 2-1 within a minute. Not only did they concede a goal, but Adebayor was injured while the home team scored and he was carried off, with Chadli coming on to replace him.  It was like last season when United hit back after Dempsey's goal, which put Spurs 2-0 ahead.  A case of the Spurs side sleeping just after scoring and letting United back into the game.

United had the impetus behind them following the goal and Januzaj bent a shot just wide from the edge of the box. Lloris did well claiming a cross and catching the ball to give Spurs some respite, with Sherwood bringing on Harry Kane for Soldado to use the youngster's effort to pressure the Man U defenders.

Spurs survived a scare in the 77th minute, when Januzaj ran past Rose and got to the line, pulling the ball back to Hernandez, but he missed it and Lloris blocked the ball at his near post, before Welbeck fell over as he tried to get a shot in on goal. Spurs had a chance when Dembele moved left across the box, like he did against Stoke, but his shot from 22 yards out was blocked.

Lennon went on a mazy run after being put through by Kane, with a low shot straight at De Gea after he cut inside from the left side of the box. 

United's last change saw Cleverly go off with Ashley Young coming on. You wondered how long it would be before he went down easy.  Kane worked hard to close down United defenders and forcing them into fouls, but Spurs had another escape in the 87th minute, as a long ball down the left saw Lloris rush out to challenge Young in the box, but while he made contact with the lightweight winger, the ball in was headed away by Dawson and play went on. United players were going after Webb and then hitting the turf with regularity, as they sought to win things in and around the box.

With the clock approaching 90 minutes, Wayne Rooney hit a shot from the edge of the D and Lloris got down to his left to push the ball wide for a corner. From it, Lloris saved to his right to keep Vidic's header out for another corner, then Lennon stopped an effort from Evans in front of the left hand post and when the ball came back in, Vidic headed just over the bar.

The remainder of added time was played out with Spurs defending, then playing the ball out of defence to Kane, who did well to hold play up away from our end. They did well staying calm over the 90 minutes, not hoofing the ball away only for it to come back, so possession was important in holding United back.

Luckily, Howard Webb had one of his better games and got the decisions right that he needed to. United's diving didn't pay off and Januzaj got another booking for it, so I hope it gets highlighted in the media, as Bale was crucified for it when he got fouled, so when there wasn't a touch, it should be something that refs should do something about (or even the FA in retrospect).

With two quality goals, Spurs exposed holes in United's defence and there were players who did not help the defenders behind them, as they failed to track back as Tottenham attacked.

Sherwood out-tacticed Moyes, who threw on subs playing six attacking players and just four defenders. The way Spurs played the ball, it worked United's midfield and they did not get their way, unlike the usual pattern at Old Trafford for the home team. Maybe Ferguson's influence has diminished much quicker than the United hierarchy might have thought.
For Spurs, it appears Daniel Levy has made a master-stroke in appointing Sherwood. At the moment, things are going his way and as he said on Sunday, there are tougher tests to come.  But for today, it was be a good trip back from Salford for the majority of the Spurs fans !!

Paddy Kingston


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What you thought
Ted Maul Interesting that Moyes concentrated on the supposed penalties that his side should have had and that Hugo Lloris should have been sent off.  Perhaps he has selective memory loss as to a time when United got penalties all the time at Old Trafford and the decisions all seemed to go their way. 
Just two instances that spring to mind are Pedro Mendes;' "goal" that never was - even though it was yards over the goal-line and the goal United were given by Clattenburg, when Nani hand-balled it and Gomes put it down for a free-kick only for the United winger to put the ball into an empty net.
I'm sure if such things happened these days, Moyes would walk onto the pitch and protest with the referee for allowing them to happen !!
And as for the Lloris challenge, nobody has mentioned where the contact took place if it was to be punished by the referee.  Hugo failed to make contact with Young, as he jumped (like he usually does) to avoid contact and Lloris' leading leg was on the floor.  If his other leg did catch him, by then he was edging out of the area anyway.  So, commentators and the United manager needed to actually substantiate where the supposed contact took place.  Additionally, If Young hadn't jumped would he have gone down so spectacularly ?
Anyway, like our hard luck stories at Old Trafford, this is one for United and not us.
Three points are welcome to start the New Year and let's hope it's a good one !!
- -.



Other scores during this week :
Arsenal 2 Cardiff City 0 Wednesday
Crystal Palace 1 Norwich City 1 Wednesday
Fulham 2 West Ham United 1 Wednesday
Liverpool 2 Hull City 0 Wednesday
Southampton 0 Chelsea 3 Wednesday
Stoke City 1 Everton 1 Wednesday
Sunderland 0 Aston Villa 1 Wednesday
Swansea City 2 Manchester City 3 Wednesday
West Bromwich Albion 1 Newcastle United 0 Wednesday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 20 14 3 3 39 18 45 +21
2 Chelsea 20 14 4 3 38 19 43 +19
3 Manchester City 20 14 2 4 57 23 44 +34
4 Liverpool 20 12 3 5 46 23 39 +24
5 Everton 20 10 8 2 32 19 38 +13
6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 20 11 4 5 24 25 37 -1
7 Manchester United 20 10 4 6 33 24 34 +9
8 Newcastle United 20 10 3 7 29 25 33 +4
9 Southampton 20 7 6 7 26 22 27 +2
10 Hull City 20 6 5 9 22 25 23 -1
11 Aston Villa 20 6 5 9 19 25 23 -6
12 Stoke City 20 5 6 9 18 27 22 -9
13 Swansea City 20 5 6 9 26 28 21 -2
14 West Bromwich Albion 20 4 9 7 23 27 21 -4
15 Norwich City 20 5 5 10 17 33 20 -16
16 Fulham 20 6 1 13 21 42 19 -21
17 Cardiff City 20 4 6 10 15 32 18 -17
18 Crystal Palace 20 5 2 13 13 29 17 -13
19 West Ham United 20 3 6 11 19 30 15 -11
20 Sunderland 20 3 5 12 15 33 14 -19


Position before match :  7th
Position after match :  6th


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