|DATE||Sunday 28th December 2014|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
As it is just after Christmas, my time is limited to look at United
in much depth, but it is not necessary, as their team get so much
coverage all over the media. At the start of this season, it
was because they were doing so badly under new coach Louis van Gaal,
but now it is because they are wonderful and are pushing all the way
to the top.
Six straight wins have helped and they come to the Lane confident and will meet a Spurs side who are also getting themselves together after an inconsistent start. Spurs are picking up points while not playing well and while United are moving up the table, their side does not always look that convincing, especially in defence.
The return of Michael Carrick will add a resilience to their back line, as although he is not a defender, he can read the game from there and also launch passes forward to start attacks. Some of the United youngsters have prospered under van Gaal (Tyler Blackett and James Wilson), but Adnan Januzaj has virtually gone missing and will be out of this game with an injury. With some old faces such as Rooney, Valencia and van Persie in the visitors' team, they will face some players in our side they have not come up against before, such as Harry Kane, Ryan Mason and Ben Davies. While this may not phase them, it might give them different problems to ones they are used to facing when playing Tottenham. Additionally, the likes of Erik Lamela will go into this game with confidence and could be a threat to the United defence.
Rooney loves to score against Spurs and van Persie has been known to in previous years, but with Falcao in reserve and Mata can turn a game with his running with the ball and incisive passing. Ashley Young had a good game against Newcastle and might be coming into a spell of good form, so needs to be watched.
If Spurs do get as far as
getting effort son goal, they will face a keeper in good form, with
David de Gea being the obstacle between opposing teams and United
defeats a few times this season. It could take a precision
finish (and we have the players to do that with Eriksen and Lamela)
or someone to mis-hit a shot that bamboozles the Spaniard, but I am
going for a draw on the basis of both sides have strengths and
weaknesses and neither will want to lose this game.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 1 Manchester United 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Ryan Mason might start the Manchester United match after playing the second half at Leicester on Friday, while Hugo Lloris will be fit despite picking up a cut mouth form a late challenge by Jamie Vardy in the same match.
UNITED TEAM NEWS :
Angel di Maria may be missing with a pelvic injury and definitely out at Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Januzaj. Luke Shaw is fit again after an ankle injury.
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
Tottenham Hotspur 0 (0) Manchester United
Sunday 28th December 2014 Kick off 12:00
White Hart Lane
Stambouli (foul on Carrick) 26
Townsend (foul on Young) 27
Young (foul on Chadli) 50
McNair (foul on Kane) 71
Falcao (foul on Lamela) 84
Rafael (foul on Eriksen) 86
|Crowd : 35,711||Weather : Sunny, but chilly|
|Referee : Jon Moss (Leeds)||Assistant Referees : Mr. S. Bennett; Mr. S. Long|
|Fourth Official : Lee Mason||-|
|Manchester United kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 4 minutes|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Manchester United :||kit|
Hugo LLORIS (c)
18 Harry KANE
David de GEA
Chris SMALLING 72)
|Manager : Mauricio Pochettino||Manager : Louis van Gaal|
|Sponsor : AIA||Shirt sponsor : Chevrolet|
|Kit Supplier : Under Armour||Kit Supplier : Nike|
In a match that was a test of Tottenham and of Manchester United's progress this season, neither team came out on top, although Spurs rode their luck in the first half, when United's failure to take their chances resulted in a 0-0 score-line.
It was a shock that United fielded the same starting XI for the first time in living memory and even more so when Louis van Gaal's comments after the game slated the FA for the demands the Christmas period programme pouts on players. Like Wenger before him, van Gaal has come to earn his money in English football and can't wait to slag it off. Well, you knew what it was like before you came, so don't start having a go when your squad isn't good enough to cope with it. It is the same for everyone else, so tough Louis.
With Vlad Chiriches coming in for Walker and Stambouli keeping his place ahead of Bentaleb this time, it was Townsend's selection over Lamela which was the most intriguing. Erik has been showing good signs of adapting to the role expected of him, but Townsend has had a tough year and while he has pace, his end product has not always matched it.
Before the match kicked off, there was a minutes applause for the passing of our club's loyal servant Ron Henry, who was player, coach, physio and mentor to Tottenham's youngsters during his time at the club, which spanned forty years. The United fans generously joined in the applause, which was perhaps fitting on this day, as United were the club he scored his solitary Spurs goal against.
The first half saw a nervy opening by Tottenham, who had a shot by Mason in the first minute that was blocked, but failed to move the ball around with the assured presence they had of late. As United started to string passes together, Vlad Chiriches got a foot in to stop Falcao having a shot when Rooney pulled the ball back for him. When Spurs did move forward, Mason exchanged passes with Davies and got a ball into the box, but it was too high for Kane to get his head to.
Away from the football, van Persie was having a running battle with Jan Vertonghen, with the Gooner continually backing into our central defender and getting free kicks, but he also went through Jan a couple of times and somehow managed to get away with a talking to by the referee, who had a weak game. He allowed continual fouling to go unpunished, while booking McNair for his first foul (admittedly a forceful one), although he got Stambouli's yellow card right after going in late on Carrick. As it happened, Ashley Young got involved for moaning that Spurs had not put the ball out to allow treatment for his team-mate. This completely ignored the fact that United continued their attack without worrying about him. When play restarted, Townsend showed a flash of the old Andros by taking Young out with a tackle that didn't intend to get near the ball. Young got booked for a foul, but when he "collided" with Townsend in the second half, as Kane played him through with a clear run on goal, ref Moss bottled it and waved play on, when to give a free kick would not have meant a second yellow, but a straight red.
in the 19th minute, United created their first clear chance, when Mata picked out Falcao on the edge of the six
yard box, left of the middle, but as he looked like he would fire past Lloris, Fazio came out of nowhere and the Colombian striker could only spoon the ball gently into Hugo's grateful hands. It was not to be the last time the keeper would be one on one with a United man. While Kane couldn't quite get on the end of Townsend's ball to him in the box, United won a free-kick 25 yards out dead centre. Rooney and Mata stood over it, but it was the Spaniard who took the kick, deflecting off the wall and leaving Hugo standing. He was happy to see the ball bounce back out off the post, but it hit Davies, producing a scramble in front of goal, with Vlad coming to the rescue be hacking it away.
With 23 minutes gone, a Rooney corner caused mayhem in the Tottenham box, with it ending up in the air and Phil Jones heading towards goal, but a foul was given against the lanky centre-half, as Vertonghen acrobatically fly-kicked the ball off the line. Ten minutes after, Mata slipped a pass through for Falcao, who hit a shot straight at Lloris, with little power from the left corner of the box, before a brief respite saw Ben Davies race up the left an cut inside to his a shot across goal that went a couple of yards wide, but was indicative of the increased confidence he is gaining from a spot in the first team.
Five minutes before half-time, van Persie missed the most glaring opening, when he found himself alone in the penalty area, taking Jones' forward pass. Everyone stopped thinking he must be offside, but there was no flag and Hugo was on him like a flash, getting a foot to the ball and then as the Dutchman slashed at the ball, it went straight up in the air and Lloris grabbed it triumphantly. He was it it again a couple of minutes later, when Young's cross was headed won by Rooney, but luckily it was directed too far down and it took a lot of sting out of the effort, but Hugo took it comfortably.
Tottenham were allowing Young lots of space on the United left, with Chirches being dragged into the middle when play was on the other flank, with Andros not always filing back when he was caught further upfield or infield. Townsend did put in a couple of crosses that invited someone to get on the end of them, with one of them just a couple of minutes before half-time, just needing a touch from Kane's head, but it was too high. However, a minute later, Young had space that Andros had afforded him and he cut inside form the left touchline to hit a shot similar to one he scored with a few seasons back. Being right behind it, the arc of the shot was heading for Lloris' top left corner, but the keeper used his feet excellently to get him into a position where he could dive up to fingertip the ball past the post for a corner. His performances never cease to amaze and we are lucky to be seeing a goalkeeper of the highest quality playing in our colours.
In line with recent matches and half-time interviews, it was the turn of a recent player who came out to tell us about how much he enjoyed his time at the Lane. This time it was Darren Anderton, who said all the right things for the crowd to give him a good ovation. Of more concern was how Spurs would approach the second half. They had been given a bit of a run-around and needed to stabilise things to get back into the match.
Spurs did that, but could not create many clear chances to score, but United suffered similarly, with a stuttering second half performance. Early on, Evans headed Mata's corner onto the roof of the net, but the ref thought it had taken a touch off a Spurs head and the second corner saw Hugo come and claim it confidently. Somehow, Federico Fazio found himself in the box at the attacking end, getting on the end of Kane's low cross in, but Jones just managed to divert it away for a corner. However, form it, United broke away and Mata crossed form the right wing for van Persie to volley at goal, but it was not well controlled and it flew over the top of the goal by some distance.
Twenty minutes into the half, Christian Eriksen almost played a fine pass in to Kane running into the box, but de Gea got there just before him and then, in our next attack moments later, Andros let fly with a shot from 28 yards out to the right, forcing the keeper to dive and hold the ball. United had brought on Rafael for Valencia at half-time and his low ball into the area from the right dead-ball line picked out Juan Mata ten yards out, but the midfielder leant back and his shot flew over the bar when he should have hit the target.
United's composure was being lost as they failed to break through and the yellow cards mounted up, with petulant fouls and lots of moaning at the match officials. This coincided with Tottenham putting in a strong finish to the match. While Fazio had been dominating in the air at the back, he was finding time to get forward and had he made a more solid connection with Vertonghen's low ball into the box, he might have claimed his first Spurs goal. Spurs were looking for passes through the United defence, which weren't quite finding their intended targets, but we were building a bit of pressure on the away team's back four. Jones was going down every time he was tackled like he had been hit by a bus and Moss fell for it. There were tired legs and all three United subs were defenders coming on, as van Gaal tried to stem the flow of the match towards their goal.
Vertonghen got on the end of an Eriksen free-kick, but couldn't direct his header at goal, then Christian took a trademark free-kick from 25 yards out that dipped over the wall and had de Gea diving to his right to push the ball away from goal. Tottenham's best chance came eight minutes form the end, when Kane won the ball inside the centre circle in his own half, then ran forward with three red shirts around him. It looked like he had nowhere to go, but at the edge of the area, he played a reverse pass between the men around him to Ryan Mason, running past them to his left. The area opened up for him ,but from a tight angle, he tried to go for power and the ball rose over de Gea's goal, when he should have made the keeper work.
With Dembele and Lamela adding fresh legs in place of Chadli and Townsend, Spurs were still able to keep the pressure on the United final third. Fazio got his head to a couple of balls into the box from Eriksen, but couldn't hit the target, leaving time to run away and the points to be shared.
United undoubtedly took the first half, while the second half was more even. Maybe the effort the Red Devils put into the first 45 took it's toll, but the tactic adopted in the second half of shutting United down higher up the pitch worked well, with Carrick's influence on the game becoming much reduced. Tottenham's superior fitness in the second half made it a lot tougher for United, who were visibly tiring. It also left the visitors frustrated and their temperamental attitude was exemplified by their captain. A beetroot faced Wayne Rooney, who might have done better saving his puff for running around rather than consistently moaning at the referee. Even Juan Mata, a player blessed with great skill, took to diving to try and win a free-kick when he is better than that. At least Moss spotted that one.
There were some very good performances, with Fazio, Vertonghen, Davies, Chiriches, Kane and Eriksen all putting in good efforts, while Stambouli and Mason were probably under the radar of most fans, but they did a lot of work in front of the back four. As always, the highest praise should be reserved for our keeper - Hugo Lloris - who did more to earn us a point out there today. It wasn't the best performance of late, but it was an important one, as it showed that Pochettino's teachings are sinking in. Except perhaps for those players who weren't featured in the match-day eighteen today, some of whom we might not see in a spurs shirt again.
Chelsea next and a new year will be upon us. A point here was a decent enough result. The same on Thursday would be most welcome.
Manchester United were
very much not that when they first began, with a group of their
players so disenchanted with the club they broke away to form their
own side in the City of Manchester. Lead by one of their
players called Bobby, they called themselves West Didsbury and
|Match ball sponsors||-|
|Match programme sponsors||-|
|Match shirt sponsors||-|
|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Hull City||0||Leicester City||1||Sunday|
|Stoke City||2||West Bromwich Albion||0||Sunday|
|West Ham United||1||Arsenal||2||Sunday|
|6||West Ham United||19||9||4||6||29||23||31||+6|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||19||4||5||10||18||28||17||-10|
Position before match : 7th
Position after match : 6th
Position after the weekend : 6th
* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.
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