A big week for Manchester United. The Mancunian derby looms large this coming weekend but before then, it’s the visit of Tottenham Hotspur for Jose Mourinho’s homecoming.
It’s fifteen years since the ‘Humble One’ sprinted uncontrollably down the Old Trafford touchline. What are the odds on him doing the same again here? Slim, at best. Or is it…?
Mourinho eschewed his defensive reputation for a second successive weekend as Spurs recorded another 3 – 2 win, this time over Bournemouth.
The question is whether this is the new manager ‘bounce’ many teams enjoy or are the Londoners back to form?
Manchester United know all about that but so far, the winning run at the start of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign is as good as it has got. And that’s not good enough for the United faithful.
But it’s a game neither side can afford to lose as they look to close the gap on the top four!
Will that bring Mourinho’s defensive nature to the surface or can Ole take the wheel and steer United to a much-needed three points.
Manchester United vs Tottenham Predictions
It’s inevitable that the circus surrounding Jose Mourinho’s appointment as Tottenham manager will reach fever pitch as he returns to Old Trafford for the first time since his sacking as Manchester United boss almost a year ago.
United are in pretty much the same shape as when he left which ought to be some kind of warning for Daniel Levy and Tottenham’s owners. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got the Red Devils off to a flyer but it’s all been much of a muchness since then.
At home, United are unbeaten since Crystal Palace turned them over in August, a run which has seen them take points off the top two (W2, D3) but fail to keep a clean sheet in the last four.
That’s the kind of detail which can hint at problems. However, United haven’t failed to score at home in a Premier League match this season.
Solskjaer’s biggest problem is that United are conceding a lot of goals recently. Three at Bramall Lane, two against Aston Villa and Astana; that’s as many as they had let in during the previous ten games across all competitions.
The absence of Paul Pogba is hurting but so too is that of Scott McTominay. United are somewhat lightweight in midfield at present.
And in front of goal, if truth be told although like Tottenham their last two Premier League games added significantly to their ‘goals for’ column.
Marcus Rashford has seven goals so far but strike partner Anthony Martial has just three and hasn’t scored since the 3 – 1 win at Norwich in October. Daniel James, too, has hit a barren run after a blistering start with three goals in August; none since.
How Solskjaer could do with unlocking the secret to better play in the same way Mourinho has with Dele Alli. The former England man has been a revelation since the Portuguese took over, doubling his total for the season with his brace against Bournemouth.
But the defence is where most of Mourinho’s concerns lie. West Ham United, Olympiakos and Bournemouth all scored twice against Spurs with the Greeks forcing a furious Mourinho into a change with less than half-an-hour on the clock. It came right for him in the end but the vulnerability was unmistakable.
That win took Spurs to six unbeaten (W4, D2) with 15 goals scored in that period. Like United, they struggle defensively in the Premier League with no clean sheets since September against Crystal Palace. Indeed, that is their only clean sheet in the league this season.
If they have serious pretensions of catching the top four, Tottenham must rectify that problem immediately, starting at Old Trafford.
Manchester United vs Tottenham Head to Head
Manchester United are clear leaders in the head-to-head, winning 92 of the previous 191 meetings. Spurs emerged victorious on 52 occasions and 49 drawn.
Last season saw the away team win both fixtures with Spurs trouncing United 3 – 0 at Old Trafford. United won the four previous home meetings, all to nil.
Nine of the last ten Premier League fixtures between United and Tottenham has seen just one team score. Only one of those finished goalless (2014 at White Hart Lane). The last goalless draw at Old Trafford was in January 2005.
Manchester United Team News
Marcos Rojo and Paul Pogba have outside chances of making this game but are more likely to be fit for Saturday’s Manchester derby. Scott McTominay should, however, return for this fixture.
Eric Bailly, Timothy Fonsu-Mensah, and Diogo Dalot are not expected to return to first team action this side of Christmas.
Nemanja Matic has not been set a return date as of yet.
Tottenham Team News
Eric Lamela and Michel Worm are not expected to return for this game. Both are seen as more likely to return at the weekend.
Hugo Lloris and Ben Davies are both out until next year.
Manchester United vs Tottenham Betting Tips
Tottenham are marginal favourites with Novibet at 8/5 while United sit at 17/10. The draw is 49/20.
The last two meetings at Old Trafford saw three goals exactly. Match goal line of 2 – 3 is 91/100 but three goals exactly? 61/20 in the Number of Goals market.
Tottenham are yet to register a clean sheet under Jose Mourinho, winning his first two games by a 3 – 2 scoreline. Three in a row? That reels in a healthy 22/1.
United haven’t kept a clean sheet in nine so doing so at 53/20 against Spurs. Mourinho’s Tottenham hasn’t kept a clean sheet in any competition. At 51/20, Novibet thinks that slightly more likely.