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Sunday 16th January 2011

Unbeaten so far this season, with the consensus being that Manchester United are not playing that well, it seems like they will go on to some sort of success this season should they hit their true form. 

When that will be is hard to say, as some of their players are still in and out of their peak performances, but the mix of players available to Alex Ferguson allows him to keep the team on their tows with fresh legs coming in to provide some variation in the side.

With Edwin van der Sar and Tomasz Kuszczak sharing the gloves, I think the Dutchman will probably be favoured in this match, as Ferguson would have gone for experience to try and keep their unbeaten run going if not for illness to strike the Dutchman down.  The Polish keeper has been waiting to be given the chance to shine, but Spurs could adopt a shoot on sight policy (not literally) to keep Kuszczak on his toes.  A good shot stopper, but one who is not always comfortable in the air and needs to regain his position quickly or he could be caught out with a well placed shot.

In defence, Spurs have been linked with veteran Wes Brown, but this sometimes happens around transfer window time, especially when teams are about to play each other.  I don't think that there is much behind it, with Gallas already in place, Spurs can't really afford to take on another older central defender, with Khalumo coming in already.  With Gary Neville calling it a day at the end of the season and Rio Ferdinand having suffered absences through a bad back, Patrice Evra has been the main stay of the back four, but Rafael had deputised and might be used to counter Bale, while Evra might have a busy afternoon should Aaron Lennon be on form.  Vidic will be fit to return alongside Ferdinand and United will be happy that their first choice central defensive pairing are able to turn out together.  Vidic has been a thorn in the Spurs side with good performances at the back, clearances off his own line and goals at the wrong end as far as Tottenham are concerned.  He ends to be tied up (not literally) at the United end of the pitch to keep him away from the Spurs goal and then his effectiveness at set pieces will be limited.

The midfield is an area where United are very strong, with the likes of Darren Fletcher, Ji-Sung Park, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Nani.  A mix of wide players, but shorn of the strong running talent of Antonio Valencia and hard-working, industrious midfielders in the middle of the pitch, United try to be string, but have the capacity to get up and support the front two.  Scholes may be reaching the veteran stage, along with Giggs, who could make his 600th league match here, but they use their knowledge of the game to good effect and while Scholes is not the best tackler (see his sending off here last season), he still disrupts any forward movement by the opposition.  Giggs is another well-preserved specimen (not literally) and he can still use his reading of his team-mates movements better than some others, such as Nani, who can produce the stunning, but also is let down by his final ball sometimes.  Fletcher  will cover every blade of grass and probe beyond the midfield if he gets a chance ... to look for a chance of a goal.  Unfortunately for United, Park is missing as he is in Qatar on Asian Cup duty.

Wayne Rooney looks like he might be fit and is a major player for United, taking the game by the scruff of the neck last season here and turning it in United's favour.  A former Spur partners him up front and Dimitar Berbatov will be looking to hit back at the boo-boys who voice their displeasure that he left Spurs for the money of United, but the Bulgarian forward is class and he needs to be tightly marked to snuff him out (not literally) of the game.  On the bench, Ferguson will keep Hernandez until the game is won or he needs a goal.  The little Mexican has shown that he is full of beans and can jump above taller players to score goals from numerous angles.  Nippy and a player in the right place at the right time, he will be a different type of threat to the other two strikers.

A tough task for Tottenham as United are looking to keep their position at the top of the table, but Spurs are up to it these days ... but it needs to be the right one of these days.  With home advantage (but meaning  nothing in terms of getting decisions), Spurs might be able to get something from this game to keep their own ambitions intact ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur    1      Manchester United    1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (out - groin); Tom Huddlestone (out - ankle); Jamie O'Hara (out - back); Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin); Gareth Bale (hopeful - back); William Gallas (hopeful - hamstring); Robbie Keane (doubtful - leaving); - (-); 

MANCHESTER UNITED :  -  Wayne Rooney (doubtful - foot); John O'Shea (doubtful - calf); Paul Scholes (doubtful - groin); Antonio Valencia (out - broken ankle); Edwin van der Sar (out - ill); Owen Hargreaves (out - hamstring); Ji-Sung Park (out - international duty); - (-); 


Sky Sports 1 - (live coverage)
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 (live coverage)
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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 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney)  Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
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Internet :   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London -
click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.


Tottenham Hotspur   0    Manchester United   0      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 16th January 2011
Kick Off :  4.10 p.m.
Crowd :   35,828
Referee :  Mike Dean (Wirral)
Man U kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Grey, mild, drizzly rain.
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

  2  Hutton
13  Gallas
20  Dawson(c)
32  Assou-Ekotto

  7  Lennon
12  Palacios      (18  Defoe 78)
14  Modric
  3  Bale

11  van der Vaart     

15  Crouch

Unused subs: 
23  Cudicini
19  Bassong
  8  Jenas
  9  Pavlyuchenko
21  Kranjcar

Manchester United :

  1  van der Sar

  3  Evra       
  5  Ferdinand
15  Vidic (c)       
21  Rafael               

24  Fletcher 
16  Carrick
17  Nani    (  8  Anderson 61)

10  Rooney       
  9  Berbatov      (14  Hernandez 78)

Unused subs: 
12  Smalling
23  Evans
18  Scholes

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Manchester United
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur


Manchester United


Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

van der Vaart (kicking the ball away)  21
Palacios (foul)  37



Manchester United

Rafael (foul)  28
Fletcher (foul)  45+1
Evra (foul)  57
Rooney (dissent)  74

Rafael (second yellow - foul)  74

Match Report : -  
It is not hard to see how Manchester United have gone unbeaten so far this season.  With all the decisions they got and all the dissent they got away with for those that went against them, they must think they are invincible ... even if come May they prove to have been beatable on the pitch.

This 0-0 draw was against a pale shadow of previous United teams that have visited the Lane and the red shirted players were involved in more physical and more cynical play than we have seen from some lesser sides this season.  Time wasting from the ninth minute, van der Sar took an eternity on each goal-kick and there was little that passed by without comment to an official from Ferdinand or Vidic.

But Tottenham just went about their own game with the attacking relish we like to play with.  Bale was restricted by his back injury and van der Vaart seemed a little off the pace, with Crouch not getting much joy up top, it was left to Luka Modric to show United the midfield artistry and creativity that they are missing.  His endeavour to start forward move after forward move saw him deep in his own half to pick up the bal and then be up around the United area trying top open a way through the massed defence they put up to defend their goal.  He covered huge expanses of the pitch and took every kick a United player made on him and still came back for more.  He truly is a remarkable player.

From the first minute, when bale skinned Rafael and put his cross into van der Sar's arms, it looked as though it would be a game where Spurs had to find the right pass.  And while they plugged away at finding different ways through the United back four (or later to be back three), they could not break them down too often.  Within a minute, it looked like the first of many chances United might created happened.  Spurs sat off Berbatov, who slipped a pass into the right hand channel into the box and the England striker Rooney got onto it, cut inside Assou-Ekotto, as so many do and evaded a challenge from William Gallas, but pulled his shot across the face of goal from the corner of the six yard box.

Still inside the first five minutes, Spurs had a nice move on the left between Modric and Bale that was blocked or a corner and from it, Dawson almost made connection six yards out.  Tottenham's neat passing, inter-mixed with some direct running at the United defence caused them to panic and concede free-kicks around their own box, but they need not have feared, because although Spurs got their shots on target from the dead balls, they failed to sufficiently trouble van der Sar.

The game was quite open and United benefitted from Tottenham allowing them space to play.  Berbatov set up Rooney for a curling effort that Gomes took plunging to his left, while a minute later with nine minutes gone, Hutton's break up the right wing ended with a low cross played into the near post area, with Crouch getting onto the end of it and flashing a volley a foot wide of the post with van der Sar flat-footed.

The Spurs defence got behind the ball pretty well and then the defenders read the play to nip in and break up moves before they developed, but when United did play through balls they inevitably ran through to Gomes or off for a goal-kick, as the defence squeezed United further up the pitch.  Conversely, when Spurs went forward, they were still unable to find the killer ball, with Bale's low cross across the face of goal being too far ahead of Crouch's run for a touch to be had on the ball that would have taken it into the goal.

Halfway through the first half, an opportunity was made in similar fashion to that earlier, with Berbatov putting Rooney in, but once more Gomes did well to beat away the striker's curler, although his view was partially impeded player sin front of him.  Just after this Rafael over-ran the ball and he flew in on Palacios, who took a bit of evasive action to make sure he didn't get caught too heavily, but the Brazilian full back still caught him and got a yellow card.  Ten minutes later when the roles were reversed, the United player sat on the floor waving an imaginary yellow card to tell the ref what to do.

Three minutes before half time, Spurs had a good chance to take the lead, with Dawson driving a pass out of defence to Bale, who touched the ball around Rafael and left him for dead, before putting in a pacy cross to the near post where van der Vaart got his head to it, but was too far in advance of the post to bend his neck to get the header on target and it rippled the side-netting as it flew at pace towards the crowd.

Half time entertainment included a chat with Pat Jennings about his goal against United in the 1967 Charity Shield at Old Trafford and a fan, who managed to get up to the box used by Sky TV and hold up a banner about not wanting to move to the Olympic Stadium.  He was carted off while the banner stayed in the Park Lane for the second half and will be featured on TV situated behind the goal that United were attacking.

But there was little of that really.  Giggs had a volley well off target and Carrick got a header to a corner that went through the six yard box, but did not threaten the goal.  Six minutes into the half they had their best effort, with Rooney not closed down outside the box and his low shot brought out a fingertip stop by Gomes who pushed the bal just wide to his right.

Modric made a perceptive run inside and took the ball from the right wing and shot, but scuffed it, putting the ball two yards wide and Palacios hit a shot wide and then one way over, as he tends to do.  just after the hour there was a worrying moment when Benny let Rafael get past him by lifting the ball over his head tight to the line, but his shot was hit into the ground and Gomes got behind it to hold it at the second attempt.  Spurs were using the width of the pitch and got the bal into the box, but more often than not United players got a leg in the way to knock it out, but when it did get through to van der Vaart, he had trouble getting it o0ut of his feet or losing the attention of a number of players huddled around him.

With 73 minutes gone, Spurs broke down the left wing, as Bale slipped the ball inside from tight on the sideline for Assou-Ekotto to run into space.  Rafael was running with him and bundled over the Spurs full-back, with Mike Dean moving towards him, already reaching for a card.  having already been booked, it could only mean a second yellow and a red, but he was apoplectic and raged in the referee's face, while Rooney hurled abuse at the official and Ferdinand came and gave his two-ha'pence worth.  Rooney got booked, Ferdinand didn't and United were down to ten men.

Spurs could have played more on Evra, who had been booked and Fletcher, who took Rafael's place at left back, but they tried to play their way through the United side, with neat passing and good running.  Crouch had a shot blocked by Gallas and then put the rebound over the top, while the opening that might have won it for Tottenham came ten minutes from full-time.  Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart played a short corner routine that was helped by Hernandez's mis-kick that left VDV in, but with a lot of players around him, he lifted his shot over the bar, as he tried to bend it into the far top corner from the right of the goal.

Into added time, Giggs took the ball down and got to the edge of the Spurs box, but the ball just ran away from him allowing Gomes to take it off his toes, while at the other end Rafa got the chance to have a last shot, only for Vidic to throw himself in the line of fire to stop the effort getting to the goal.

In the end, a point was perhaps the equitable result, as United defended well and Spurs attacked well, but there was only one team really interested in getting a result.  United perhaps realised that Tottenham are serious title challengers and that a point at White Hart lane was a good result for them.  While the radio phone-ins were full of Spurs fans criticising Crouch and saying Redknapp could have done more to change things, perhaps this is a sign of the changing expectations that exist at Spurs now.  Whereas once a draw with United may have seemed a good result, now we go home disappointed at only a draw. 

With the league showing some odd results already, there might still be a long way to go until the final table in May.

Steve Peacock


Fan Reaction : -



Blah-di-blah ... Ryan Giggs played his 600th league game for United.  Yes and it is time for him to go, as he should have done in this game.  Rafael van der Vaart gets a yellow card for kicking the ball away as the whistle blew.  Giggs did exactly the same in the second minute of the game, but no punishment.  Giggs did two bad tackles, but no yellow card, unlike a number of his team-mates, who picked up cautions for similar offences.  Giggs handles the ball ... blatantly TWICE ... no yellow card.  Giggs kicks the ball away again ... guess what ??  No yellow card.

One set of rules for one and another set for the others ??

There seemed little consistency in the refereeing to tell the truth.  Evra's overhead kick that almost decapitated VDV went without even a free-kick and yet, a foot up by Bale was a free-kick at the other end. 

I failed to see how a free-kick wasn't given for Carrick's foul on Modric, but if in the ref's view it wasn't a foul, then why didn't he book the Croatian for diving ... something Nani should have been picked up on early in the game.

And why Dean went for Rafael's card wagging to book Palacios without then booking the Brazilian for asking for the yellow card, I don't know.  I thought this was supposed to be being stamped out.

United certainly brought out a very ugly side of their nature that has not been seen for a long time.

Just like Chelsea when they don't get their own way, they bitch and moan at the ref and linesmen and Vidic set a fine example as captain by slagging the linesman off as he went off after treatment and then harassed him after the game and then went o have a go at the ref too.  Ferdinand abused the ref when Vidic got cramp and Rooney's outburst when Rafael got sent off was outrageous,  The Brazilian might yet be in trouble for putting himself in the ref's face after seeing the red card.

How poor United were was reflected in the on-pitch lack of respect for the officials and by Ferguson's Wenger like comments aimed at deflecting any focus on how crap his side had been.

Berbatov had a day we saw too many of towards the end of the time he spent with us, when he doesn't look interested and Rooney looked a fat shadow of his former self.  Fletcher was subdued, but that was because Modric made him look like the workaday player that he really is, while we might have seen the best of Carrick while he was at WHL, as apart from one block and a header across the Spurs goal, there was little else from him that was of any note.

Unbeaten they may be, but this is not a quality United side.  Perhaps that reflects the whole of the Premier League this season, but it will be a poor season if this lot win it.

Sparky Marky






Other scores this weekend :
Chelsea 2 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
Manchester City 4 Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 Saturday
Stoke City 2 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 3 Blackpool 2 Saturday
West Ham United 0 Arsenal 3 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 1 Fulham 1 Saturday
Birmingham City 1 Aston Villa 1 Sunday
Liverpool 2 Everton 2 Sunday
Sunderland 1 Newcastle United 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 21 12 9 0 45 21 45 +24
2 Manchester City 23 13 6 4 37 19 45 +18
3 Arsenal 22 13 4 5 45 22 43 +23
4 Chelsea 22 11 5 6 38 19 38 +19
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 22 10 7 5 32 26 37 +6
6 Sunderland 23 8 10 5 26 23 34 +3
7 Bolton Wanderers 23 7 9 7 34 31 30 +3
8 Stoke City 22 9 3 10 28 26 30 +2
9 Newcastle United 22 8 5 9 35 32 29 +3
10 Blackpool 21 8 4 9 32 37 28 -5
11 Blackburn Rovers 23 8 4 11 29 37 28 -8
12 Everton 22 5 11 6 25 27 26 -2
13 Liverpool 22 7 5 11 27 31 26 -4
14 West Bromwich Albion 22 7 4 11 29 41 25 -12
15 Fulham 22 4 11 7 23 25 23 -2
16 Birmingham City 21 4 11 6 21 26 23 -5
17 Aston Villa 22 5 7 10 24 39 22 -15
18 Wigan Athletic 22 4 11 7 19 34 22 -15
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 22 6 3 13 24 38 21 -14
20 West Ham United 23 4 8 11 22 41 20 -19


Position before the match :  4th
Position after the match :  5th
Position after the weekend :  5th


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