OPPONENTS Manchester United 
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Sunday 11th December 2016
VENUE Old Trafford
Manchester United  SQUAD 1.  David DE GEA
3.  Eric BAILLY
4.  Phil JONES
5.  Marcos ROJO
6.  Paul POGBA
7.  Memphis DEPAY
8.  Juan MATA
10.  Wayne ROONEY
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
22.  Henrikh MKHITARYAN
23.  Luke SHAW
24.  Timothy FOSU-MENSHA
25.  Antonio VALENCIA
27.  Marouane FELLAINI
36.  Matteo DARMIAN
37.  Axel TUANZEBE
PREVIEW Jose Mourinho's tenure at Old Trafford hasn't really gone the way he would have wanted, as his team have been spluttering through their matches, but wit in sixth place nonetheless, even though they are six points behind us.  The side splashed out in the summer, making a world record signing in Paul Pogba, but also bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Bailly and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.  All big money signings, who have yet to reach their potential in the Premier League.

It is surprising that some players who were brought in by Louis van Gaal, who have plenty of Premier League experience, have been sidelined in favour of Mourinho's selections, who have been struggling.  Defensively, David de Gea has been left exposed, with changes in the back four leaving uncertainty when the ball is in their box.  The return of Michael Carrick has stabilised the team, as his ability on the ball is a factor in retaining possession and they will be hoping that Juan Mata comes through a late test to play, as he is one player who has the eye for a killer pass to make chances for the front men.   Their younger players have been given a chance with Rashford and Lingard up front adding pace to their attack, when some of their play has been ponderous.  In Anthony Martial and Ibrahimovic, they have two finishers of the top class, so, the back four will need to be alert to the  movement of their strikers.  Wayne Rooney has been in patchy form this season and may not be an automatic starter, but will no doubt be introduced from the bench at some stage.

The area where Spurs may have most joy is among their back four, with Jones returning to the side, but I have always wondered what the fuss about him was.  He is vulnerable to being turned and relies on his physicality to try and bully players.  If Kane can get him doing that in the box, then yet another penalty might be coming our way.  Daley Blind has never truly adapted to the English game and his positioning and his failure to keep possession make him a weak link.  Valencia and Rojo on the flanks may well try to push on to neutralise Walker and Rose, but that should leave space for Son and Eriksen to exploit.   If Dele can make the runs he made last week against Swansea again, it could cause all sorts of problems for United.

As Ben Davies has returned to the matchday squad, it allows Tottenham to mix and match a bit more, with Hull City visiting the Lane on Wednesday, so, Pochettino will probably put a full strength side out on Sunday, with changes made in midweek.  With a win taking us even further away from United and level on points with Manchester City, I believe that United will raise the level of their game and make things more difficult for them than other lesser sides who have visited Old Trafford lately, producing a draw.

PREDICTION Manchester United    1        Tottenham Hotspur    1
LAST SEASON'S MEETING For a look back at the match report, click here.
RESULTS HISTORY Click here for results, match reports and facts on meetings with Manchester United
Manchester United TEAM NEWS :
Defenders Chris Smalling and  Luke Shaw,  while Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger  and Memphis Depay are out of favour at the moment.  Juan Mata faces a late test on his fitness.
Ben Davies and Toby Alderweireld are back from injury and available for selection, with Erik Lamela (hip) and Vincent Janssen the only injury absentees.

Sky Sports 1 - (live coverage)
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Sky Sports 1 - (highlights)  Sunday 22.30; Monday 09.00; 13.00 ; 17.15; 18.15

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Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

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BBC London - click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.

Manchester United  1 (1)  

Premier League
Sunday 11th December 2016
Old Trafford
Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)

Kick off 14:15
Mkhitaryan  28m 55s None
Valencia (foul on Rose)  33 
Pogba (foul on Dembele)  65 
Mkhitaryan (foul on Winks)  77


Wanyama  (foul on Jones)  59
Walker  (shirt pull on Rashford)  79
Rose  (foul on Mkhitaryan)  83 


Crowd :   75,271 Weather :  Chilly
Referee :  Robert Madeley (West Yorkshire) Assistant Referees :  Mr. M. McDonough; Mr. M. Perry
Fourth Official :  Mike Jones  
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Stretford End in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 9 minutes.
Manchester United : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  David de GEA

25  Antonio VALENCIA      
  4  Phil JONES
5  Marcos ROJO
36  Matteo DARMIAN

  6  Paul POGBA     
16  Michael CARRICK

  Ander HERRERA  (27  Maruoane FELLAINI  90+7)

22  Henrikh MKHITARYAN         (  3  Eric BAILLY  85)
11  Anthony MARTIAL  (19  Marcus RASHFORD  72)

Unused subs: 
20  Sergio ROMERO
17  Daley BLIND
  8  Juan MATA

    1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  2  Kyle WALKER     
  3  Danny ROSE     

12  Victor WANYAMA     
19  Mousa DEMBELE  (28  Harry WINKS  67)

  7  Heung-Min SON  (17  Moussa SISSOKO  57)
20  DELE Alli
Christian ERIKSEN  (14  Georges-Kevin N'KOUDOU  83)

10  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
13  Michel VORM

33  Ben DAVIES
27  Kevin WIMMER
15  Eric DIER

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

A slow and subdued Spurs succumbed to a sedentary Manchester United side, whose slump at home stopped with this slim 1-0 success.

Tottenham had dropped Eric Dier with Toby Alderweireld returning in the middle of defence, with Dembele and Wanyama paired in front of the first choice back four.  The remainder of the side was as it had been recently, with no eye towards Wednesday night's meeting with Hull City.  With Davies back on the bench, the subs looked a bit of a stronger list than in recent weeks.

Thirty seconds into the match, Spurs could have been a goal behind. Mkhitaryan turned just inside his own half and put Ibrahimovic away down the right. His square ball picked out the run of Paul Pogba and his side-foot shot was low and firm, but not strong enough to beat Hugo Lloris' dive to his right to push the ball wide.

Spurs were passing well and Son had a chance when he broke on the left, cut inside and curled a shot but it was a fair distance wide. A few minutes later, Alderweireld tried to find Dele with a long diagonal ball beyond Jones and his outstretched arm made contact with the Spurs midfielder, but there was no infringement and the ball sailed over both their heads.

As Wanyama came in to intercept a loose ball out of the United defence, Pogba tumbled him over and Spurs had a free-kick 30 yards out. Eriksen picked out Wanyama at the far post, but his header back into the middle hit a defender. A similar position in the 18th minute brought a drive from Eriksen and de Gea had to dive to his right to push it wide. A ball into the box came out to Mkhitaryan from Carrick and his shot was blocked by Jan Vertonghen's foot and from the corner, the ball bobbled about until Alli cleared, but Herrera shot it back in, with Hugo right behind it.

Walker did well to chase down Martial after the United striker had a five yard start on him, but he then took a heavy knock from Ibrahimovic when trying to clear. Spurs were trying to use the width of the pitch, but often it was Kane who was pulled wide. Michael Carrick tried a long range effort which went too high with a flick off Wanyama, as United started to push on. The pressure lead to a goal with 30 minutes gone, when Kane's pass was intercepted and Mkhitaryan was set away by Herrera and his shot beat Lloris, as Alderweireld closed him down.

A wild challenge by Valencia resulted in a booking and Tottenham once more made nothing from the free-kick, but the possession stats meant nothing, as there was little for the United defence to be troubled by. Trying to play the ball out from the back, Rose was robbed and it led to Ibrahimovic being free to have a shot that he scuffed and Lloris saved well. Tottenham really needed Dembele to impose himself on the game and he did well to win the ball when Son had a shot from 20 yards that was powerful but straight at de Gea, who only had to push it over.

Another rash challenge by Herrera gave Spurs a free-kick wide on the right, which Eriksen took and it was simply defended, but Toby picked it up and drove in a low cross that was kicked away at the near post and was involved in the second phase, but the ball did not find a Spurs man.

United's players were showing their dissent at a large number of decisions that went against them, with Madeley doing nothing about it. When Rojo clearly pulled Wanyama's shirt at a corner, once more the ref failed to take action. When Wanyama out-muscled Pogba in midfield it was a free-kick. Strange that !!

With United's players and fans howling for a free-kick on Pogba at the Spurs end, play moved up the field for Eriksen to win a corner, but the last kick of the half failed to produce anything and United maintained their lead at the interval.

The second half started with Spurs looking comfortable on the ball, but again, they were failing to hurt United. 53 minutes had gone when Alli was put away and he played it right to Walker, who stopped it for Eriksen to crack a shot at goal, but straight at the keeper, who fisted it out. Then a free-kick found Wanyama free at the far post and his header wasn't on target when he was five yards out.

Poch brought on Sissoko for Son, being immediately involved winning a corner on a take-on down the right. From the corner Wanyama was booked for an arm in Jones' face. Moussa started to run at the defence on the right and with Alli and Dembele not effective, it was a welcome weapon to help Spurs move forward. Dembele held onto Pogba as he turned away form him 25 yards out and the free-kick was crashed against the bar by the world record signing, with shouts for a penalty when Alderweireld won the ball against Herrera, who went down easily. Lloris was at his best to save from Pogba when Mkhitaryan set him up and his shot down into the ground saw Hugo dive left to push the ball out.

Sissoko's run on Darmain saw the manager recognise that that was the weak link when Tottenham scored three in six minutes at home. Winks replaced Dembele and Valencia almost put Alli in, but he had to turn back as there was little support in the box. Kane turned Rojo, who brought him down to get a free-kick and from outside the box by two yards, Christian hit a low shot heading for the bottom corner until de Gea dived to his right to palm the ball wide.

Rashford came on to give more protection to Darmian, as United looked vulnerable there and Sissoko nearly got past the defender in the box, but Carrick came across to tackle. The game was being littered with cheap free-kicks and while United had a chance when Mkhitaryan was in the clear at the far post, the game was being fought out in midfield.

Both Spurs full backs got bookings and N'koudou came on for Eriksen, while Bailly replaced Mkhitaryan, who was stretchered off following Rose's booking. The United crowd were getting to the referee, who started giving United decisions that were borderline to say the least. It allowed the home team to slow the match down by taking as long as possible over each set-piece. Herrera was being his usual cowardly self when he fouled Vertonghen and then kicked the ball away.

It really was pantomime time when the crowd booed Rose at every opportunity, but that probably stemmed from their nerves about losing a leading position once more. Winks was doing well winning the ball and prompting Spurs forward. Rose got into the box, but was blocked out, so Mourinho's tactics to run down time, he brought on Fellaini and the game was up.

Once more a single goal settled the game at Old Trafford and Spurs failed to put in a display that caused the hosts very little concern. Kane was left without any decent service, our set-pieces were rubbish again and we failed to press United as we usually do our opponents. Despite all the bookings, there was a lack of aggression from Tottenham and it will disappoint Pochettino that the side meekly allowed a side under pressure to easily soak up pressure and hit us on the break.  The slow build up also failed to test the mettle of the United defence.

Sissoko looked good when he came on and Winks added an energy to the midfield which had been lacking, with Alli and Dembele not doing enough to move the United defence around, it left Son as the runner, who looked the most likely to have a shot. Other than that, it was the defence who were the outstanding players, preventing United getting more shots on target than they had and Hugo stopping the ones that got through going in.

Spurs will be a different side when they face Hull City on Wednesday in terms of personnel, but hopefully, in they way they play too. Having allowed United to close the gap, they need to ensure three points against the Tigers are won and in convincing style.

Peter Martins




Manchester United started their life as Newton Heath Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Football Club, named after a notorious rich patron in the Salford area, who paid the world record fee for a Class C Locomotive from Italy back in 1875.


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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Arsenal 3 Stoke City 1 Saturday
Burnley 3 Bournemouth 2 Saturday
Hull City 3 Crystal Palace 3 Saturday
Leicester City 4 Manchester City 2 Saturday
Swansea City 3 Sunderland 0 Saturday
Watford 3 Everton 2 Saturday
Chelsea 1 West Bromwich Albion 0 Sunday
Liverpool 2 West Ham United London 2 Sunday
Southampton 1 Middlesbrough 0 Sunday



League Table  2016-17
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 15 12 1 2 33 11 37 +22
2 Arsenal 15 10 4 1 36 15 34 +21
3 Liverpool 15 9 4 2 37 19 31 +18
4 Manchester City 15 8 3 3 32 19 30 +13
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 15 7 6 2 24 11 27 +13
6 Manchester United 15 6 6 3 20 16 24 +4
7 West Bromwich Albion 15 5 5 5 20 18 20 +2
8 Everton 15 5 6 5 19 19 20 0
9 Southampton 15 5 5 5 14 15 20 -1
10 Stoke City 15 5 4 6 17 22 19 -5
11 Bournemouth 15 5 3 7 21 25 18 -4
12 Watford 15 6 3 6 21 26 18 -5
13 Leicester City 15 4 4 7 21 26 17 -5
14 Burnley 15 5 2 8 15 25 17 -10
15 Crystal Palace 15 4 3 8 27 29 15 -2
16 Middlesbrough 15 3 6 6 13 16 15 -3
17 West Ham United London 15 3 4 8 17 31 13 -14
18 Swansea City 15 3 3 9 19 31 12 -12
19 Hull City 15 3 3 9 14 32 12 -18
20 Sunderland 15 3 2 10 14 27 11 -13


Position before match :  5th
Position after match :  5th
Position after the weekend :  5th


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


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