OPPONENTS Manchester United
COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Sunday 4th March 2012
VENUE White Hart Lane






So, with Scott Parker missing, we are required to take on the second club in the league and the reigning champions.  Without him earlier in the season, they enjoyed a 3-0 home victory over Spurs, but that was without Modric, Saha and Adebayor.  Will their presence make it more difficult for United or will their winning mentality further dent our aspirations ?

If Bale, van der Vaart and Walker are all fit, it might be an even match, as United will be missing players through injury too.  But United are on a good run and Spurs are starting to stutter with just six points from the last eighteen.  The team need to pick up the tempo of their game to that which shocked Newcastle and put in the hard work that has seen them deny and frustrate opponents all over the pitch.  Without Parker, Livermore or Sandro will have to fill in for his role in chasing and harrying all over the pitch.

United have some old timer sin their side, but they are proving their worth with their eagerness to perform and their experience brings cool heads when the pressure is on.  The return to action of Paul Scholes has been a boon for Ferguson and Ryan Giggs keeps going into what is his 21st Premier League year.  Neither quite has the legs they used to, so they might commit the odd cynical foul as they can't keep up with then likes of Bale and Walker any more, but they can still pass the ball well and both can finish.

Wayne Rooney returns after having a throat condition and he is playing very well, scoring and  creating goals, so in attack, he will have to be watched and the mobile Danny Welbeck might start alongside him to add a different dimension to their options.  The young England forward played very well in the game earlier this season, but Ferguson could chose to go with the tricky Nani, who is another who can drop deep or wide to put balls into the box and can pop up in danger areas to score - from close in or from distance.

In midfield we find an ex-Spurs player in Michael Carrick, who excels at taking the ball, looking up and keeps the ball moving on to his team-mates.  he is unspectacular, but we know from his time at the Lane, he does a lot of tracking back too.  With Phil Jones being pushed into midfield, he is able to get forward and support the attack, but his natural defensive instincts are sometimes forgotten and with the pace in the Spurs side, he might quickly find himself out of position.

With defensive injury worries, United might field Patrice Evra, Johnny Evans, Rio Ferdinand and Rafael in front of David De Gea.  There is experience in that back four, with Rafael and Evans being the weaker links of the four, so it might allow Louis Saha's movement and Adebayor's tendency to drift away from a central position to pull their markers out of position, leaving space for the midfielders to move into and make the most of.

In reserve, United's resources are looking a little pale in places, with Fabio their only recognised full back, although Jones could drop back into defence is needed, while midfield contains a few well known names who may not start - Anderson, Ji-Sung Park and Ashley Young - and up front our former Bulgarian forward Dimitar Berbatov would be keen to show us why he left for Old Trafford, along with Javier Hernandez, who is a live wire striker, who can find the net from almost any angle and might get the nod over Welbeck if Ferguson thinks that he may be tired after his England game in midweek.

The attack is the strong part of the United side and the back four will need to be switched on a lot more than last week.  The midfield will need to work hard to deny their United counterparts any opportunity to launch attacks putting pressure on them to hurry their passing and for the Spurs strikers to take the chances that come their way. 

Never an easy game and one that usually produces goals, apart from last year, I think the points will be shared and that might just suit both sides after results elsewhere.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    2         Manchester United    2
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Tottenham are hopeful that Gareth Bale will be picking up a hamstring strain in midweek with Wales and that Rafael van der Vaart and Kyle Walker (both ankle) will both be over their knocks.   Ledley King faces a late fitness test, while Scott Parker is suspended after being sent off last week.  David Bentley (knee), William Gallas (calf) and Tom Huddlestone (ankle) are all long term injuries.
Wayne Rooney comes back into contention after a throat infection, but not likely to play are Tom Cleverely (ankle), Chris Smalling (head) and Antonio Valencia (hamstring).  Darren Fletcher is out for the rest of the season with an ulcerative colon and Richie de Laet's has a shin injury that rules him out for the remainder of the campaign.  Knee injuries to Nemanja Vidic and Bebe rule them out long term, with Michael Owen joining on the injury list them with a thigh strain.

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Tottenham Hotspur  1 (0)                            Manchester United  3 (1)
Premier League
Sunday 4th March 2012                                                       Kick off 16:10
White Hart Lane
Defoe 87 Rooney 45
Young 60
Young 69
Sandro (foul)


Evans (foul)  
Jones (foul)


Crowd :   36,034 Weather :  Wet, cold
Referee :  Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire) Assistant Referees :  C. Breakspear; M. Mullarkey
Fourth Official :  Andre Marriner Match Delegate :  Simon Morgan
Professional Game Match Observer : W. J. Norbury
Manchester United kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Manchester United : kit
24  Friedel

28  Walker
26  King (c)
  4  Kaboul
32  Assou-Ekotto

  7  Lennon (25  Rose 84)
29  Livermore
30  Sandro     (21  Kranjcar 80)
14  Modric

15  Saha (18  Defoe 80  )

Unused subs: 
20  Dawson
33  Nelson
17  dos Santos

    1  De Gea

  4  Jones     
  5  Ferdinand (c)
  6  Evans     
  3  Evra

17  Nani (13  Park 79)
16  Carrick
22  Scholes  (11  Giggs 61)
18  Young   

10  Rooney 
19  Welbeck

Unused subs: 
40  Amos
20  Fabio
21  Rafael
  8  Anderson
14  Hernandez

Manager :  Harry Redknapp Manager :  Alex Ferguson
Sponsor :   Aurasma Shirt sponsor :  AON
Kit Supplier :  Puma Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

For a match that Spurs player reasonably well in, a 1-3 defeat was a disappointing outcome as they lost to a second Manchester club at home this season - the only two home league defeats so far.  And United showed the lethal finishing that is the mark of a side who have been there and done it before, while Spurs had the lions' share of possession, but failed to trouble calamity keeper De Gea often enough until it was too late.

Starting the game without Scott Parker and Gareth Bale, it was almost like the return fixture earlier in the season, with not a full strength side out.  Since we narrowly lost out at Eastlands, the wheels have come off the Spurs bandwagon a bit - other than the home win over Newcastle and how the difference from that day was noted, as Tottenham failed to beat Manchester United for the 26th time in succession.

But this time, they bettered United for about an hour, but had still gone into the half time break a goal behind.  In the past, we have been two or three goals up and ended up losing, but this time it was us on the end of a defeat that was not totally reflected by the score-line.  But that is what history will judge us by and that is what counts in the end.  However well we played, it was not good enough.

From the first moments, Spurs were at United.  Closing down and putting their midfield under pressure to give the ball away, but by the middle of the second half, this had evaporated and United were playing out a practice match.  Saha and Welbeck put shot sin on goal in the first five minutes, but neither was that threatening, then Adebayor shot over and Sandro's tough tackle on Scholes saw the little midfielder react unhappily.  Louis Saha once more struck a shot that was fairly straightforward for De Gea to save and then, when Spurs has hustled United into turning the ball over, Adebayor fired in a low shot that the United keeper had to dive full length to his left to push put.

United players had been slyly leaving their foot in tackles and an early incident saw Jones go over the ball on Assou-Ekotto, so when he fouled Saha on the edge of the area, he got a yellow card and Spurs got a free-kick, which was touched aside to Kaboul, who struck a low effort that came off a leg in the wall and could have gone anywhere, but went wide for a corner.  That was after half an hour and it was five minutes before United had their first effort on goal from their first corner.  Rooney won a touch on the ball and it went straight to Friedel, but when Spurs went forward in the next attack, it looked as though they had taken the lead.

A move on the left with Lennon skipping past Jones with great ease ended with his low ball to the near post, where Saha shot at goal and it hit Adebayor on the line, but he reacted quickly and back-heeled the ball into the net, but straight away Atkinson pointed to disallow the goal in the 37th minute.  But at the time, nobody knew quite what for.  Was it another Stevenage where the Spurs player was offside on the line ?  Not this time, as it transpired that the red had given handball.  Harsh, as why would Ade stop it with his hand if it was going in, but the referee said he did so to bring the ball down and score.

Anyway, a couple of minutes later, Sandro was penalised for a foul on Ashley Young on the left wing, earning a booking to go with it too.  Worse was to follow, as it ended with the free-kick going for a corner and Young curling it into the six yard box, where Rooney got ahead of Walker and had a free header from a couple of yards out to beat Friedel and Tottenham were a goal behind.

There has been a fair number of decisions going United's way and they were getting away with a lot, as almost every ball forward saw Ferdinand and Evans have two hands or an arm in the back of our forwards, but little was awarded.  it is surprising that the linesmen didn't see anything.  But with the interval over amid the more persistent rain that was falling, Spurs made no changes at the break, so the team started in much the same vein as the first half.

Five minutes into the half, De Gea pulled out another good save by diving to his right to push away a shot from Livermore from just outside the box that Adebayor had touched on the way through.  Spurs were pushing for an equaliser and Rio Ferdinand was forced into heading the ball over from Lennon's cross and then, when a foul was given outside the box for a foul by Evra, Benny stepped up to curl it over a wall that looked nowhere like ten yards back, but he managed to get it down, but not enough and it glanced off the top of the bar, with De Gea seeming to have had it covered.  That was the closest Spurs got to United, as on the hour the visitors took a 2-0 lead.

A quickly taken thrown in on the United right wing caught Spurs napping and Nani was allowed lots of time in the Spurs penalty area, near the dead ball line to play it low into the goalmouth.  Walker was on hand to try and clear, but his hurried attempt scooped the ball up in the air and Ashley Young set himself to hit a falling volley from the left side of the goal back into the corner on the other side.  It was a well executed technical finish to leave Tottenham chasing the game, when they didn't really deserve to be.  But two sloppy bits of defending, following on from last week's incidents, had seen us punished again.

Spurs looked deflated and when Luka Modric hit a free kick from the right over the heads of everyone in the box, it looked like the game was up.  Benny had a volley from outside the box that went straight into De Gea's midriff before the game was up.  Picking up the ball about 30 yards out, Young ran at the Spurs defence, who backed off in the fashion of our defenders from days gone by.  Getting to a point about 22 yards out, he picked his spot expertly to curl a shot around Friedel and inside the keeper's left hand post as his despairing dive was not up to the shot.  It was reminiscent of a flipped over version of van Persie's goal the week before.

3-0 was a shocking score-line considering how the game had gone and showed the importance of taking your chances.  With twenty minutes still left, you started to wonder how many it might end up, as Tottenham looked shell-shocked and were starting to look ever more vulnerable in defence.  Harry brought on Kranjcar and Defoe for Saha and Sandro in what was a little more of an attacking move, but Kranjcar looked like he was on one of his couldn't be bothered days.  United were happy to play keep-ball and it looked once more like the previous week, as we chased shadows.

Then, out of the blue a goal came.  United presented Spurs with the ball when a wayward pass infield from their right by Jones to Defoe in the middle of the pitch near the centre circle in United's half gave him space as well as possession.  Jermain strode forward and from 25 yards hit a fierce drive that De Gea must have been unsighted for, as he stood and watched the ball go in past him to his right and Spurs had a goal back.  Coming three minutes from the end it was only veer going to be a consolation.

Not much more happened in the game apart from a long-awaited booking for Evans, but the United fans celebrated like they had won the league whereas they had just stopped us having any slim chance of doing so and put our third place under pressure.

Not a bad performance, but when you look at our defending, it hardly constitutes a good one either.

Must do better boys ... and fairly soon after this run we are currently on.  Only a turn around in fortunes can fight off the challenge for third and while Chelsea and Liverpool lost, we need to string some results together for the run in, where a lot of our games are winnable ... but not if we defend like this.

Burton Bradstock


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What you thought



Other scores during this week :
Blackburn Rovers 1 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2 Saturday
Manchester City 2 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Queens Park Rangers 1 Everton 1 Saturday
Stoke City 1 Norwich City 0 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 1 Chelsea 0 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 0 Swansea City 2 Saturday
Fulham 5 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Sunday
Newcastle United 1 Sunderland 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 27 20 3 3 69 19 66 +50
2 Manchester United 27 20 4 3 66 27 64 +39
3 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 27 16 5 6 52 33 53 +19
4 Arsenal 27 15 4 8 55 38 49 +17
5 Chelsea 27 13 7 7 47 33 46 +14
6 Newcastle United 27 12 8 7 39 39 44 0
7 Liverpool 26 10 9 7 30 25 39 +5
8 Fulham 27 9 9 9 37 36 36 +1
9 Stoke City 27 10 6 11 27 38 36 -11
10 West Bromwich Albion 27 10 5 13 34 35 35 -1
11 Norwich City 27 9 8 10 38 44 35 -6
12 Sunderland 27 9 7 11 35 31 34 +4
13 Everton 26 9 7 10 27 28 34 -1
14 Swansea City 27 8 9 10 32 36 33 -4
15 Aston Villa 27 6 12 9 30 35 30 -5
16 Queens Park Rangers 27 5 7 15 28 46 22 -18
17 Blackburn Rovers 27 5 7 15 38 60 22 -22
18 Wolverhampton Wanderers 27 5 7 14 30 56 22 -26
19 Bolton Wanderers 27 6 2 19 29 56 20 -27
20 Wigan Athletic 27 4 8 15 23 52 20 -29


Position before match :  3rd
Position after match :    3rd
Position after the weekend :  3rd


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