Man Utd host Tottenham at Old Trafford in the English Premier League on Saturday evening. This is a key match in the race for the top four with a draw not suiting either team. The Red Devils won this fixture 3-0 earlier in the season at Spurs’ stadium but come off the back of a humiliating derby defeat. Spurs have won 4-0 and 5-0 in their last two league matches and will hope to face an open Ralf Rangnick setup.
Man Utd Form
United have done okay in league action since Ralf Rangnick took over, losing just twice in 14 matches (at Wolves and in their last match, 4-1 to Man City). In all competitions, the results and performances have taken a dip in the last eight matches with just two wins.
After throwing away 1-0 leads to draw three times, United beat Brighton 2-0 and Leeds 4-2 away. Their next match saw a really poor away performance, but a good result, as they drew 1-1 at Atletico Madrid. A 0-0 home draw with Watford followed where some very presentable chances were missed. Their 4-1 home loss to City last time out proved humiliating after a decent first 30 minutes.
Man Utd Team News
Luke Shaw and Raphael Varane are back in training after COVID-19 and both are pushing to start – Alex Telles and Victor Lindelof could drop out, but Harry Maguire is another option in his current slump.
Cristiano Ronaldo remains a major doubt with a hip injury but Edinson Cavani is fit again and could lead the line. Rangnick is probably going to revert to a 4-3-3 of sorts with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba in the midfield three. If Cavani and Ronaldo can’t start, then maybe he uses Pogba and Bruno as two false nines again.
Man Utd Motivation
This is a huge match in the race for the top four. Man Utd need to get back to winning ways and their fans will demand a much more front-foot and determined display. Many thought they gave up in the final 25 minutes against City and their pride will be wounded.
United are a point behind Arsenal having played three more matches, making this a must-win match.
Spurs have been wildly inconsistent of late. Against teams who sit deep and concede possession, they look short of ideas. Against open opponents, they can be deadly on the counter-attack. Their last 13 matches in all competitions have brought six wins and seven defeats, with no draws. The side have not won consecutive matches (including cups) since Christmas.
In the league, a nine-match winless run after Conte arrived was followed by three defeats in a row, causing their coach a mini-meltdown. They were beaten 2-0 at Chelsea and at home by Southampton (3-2) and Wolves (2-0). A sublime 3-2 win at Man City followed but they then lost 1-0 at Burnley, keeping up their trend of beating open teams and losing to defensive ones. Their last two matches saw a 4-0 win at Leeds and a 5-0 home win against Everton as they revelled in the space afforded to them.
Tottenham Team News
Spurs have a few smaller injuries to contend with. Japhet Tanganga is out in defence and Oliver Skipp is still not fit in midfield. Ryan Sessegnon did his hamstring against Everton so Sergio Reguilon will come into the XI.
The rest of the side picks itself right now with Rodrigo Bentancur preferred to Harry Winks and Dejan Kulusevski keeping Lucas Moura out of the XI.
Spurs are three points off Arsenal in fourth (one more match played) and two points off Man Utd (two games in hand). A win here would be a huge result and they will play for victory.
This feels like a must-not-lose or the teams above them could pull away somewhat, especially if Arsenal win their match this weekend. Spurs will play on transitions in this one, allowing United plenty of the ball.
Man Utd have won 2 of their last 8 matches in all comps
United have lost 1 of their last 9 PL matches
Man Utd have won 3-0 and 3-1 in their last 2 matches against Spurs
Spurs have won 3 of their last 4 PL matches (12 goals scored)
Tottenham have lost 7 of their last 13 matches (all comps)
Tottenham have won 4 of their last 6 away PL matches
Spurs have kept 1 clean sheet in their last 5 away PL matches
This is a tough match to call. If United leave themselves open, they could play into Conte’s hand. Spurs have won at Man City and put over 3.4 xG vs Liverpool so they enjoy these open big matches. They could be a good call to win at Old Trafford and pile misery on Rangnick.