After their 3-2 defeat to Brighton last time out, all eyes will be fixed on Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United when they face Tottenham Hotspur on Monday.
Despite it being a fixture that United have dominated at Old Trafford, winning their last four encounters, Mauricio Pochettino’s men hold the tools to hurt the Red Devils if they don’t turn up.
In what is just the third of game of the season, it is expected to be a tense and feisty affair.
Here are four key battles that could affect the outcome:
Mourinho vs Pochettino – Old vs new?
Both Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino face a tough season after failing to be backed by their respective boards during the transfer window.
A lack of recruits means that both will be deploying players from a familiar-looking squad to last season, particularly Spurs, who spent no money in the summer transfer window for the first time in their Premier League history.
Since arriving in the Premier League, Pochettino has worked wonders with his Spurs team. With their pacey wingbacks, fluid attackers and the lethal Harry Kane, Tottenham are one of the league’s strongest teams going forward.
In contrast, Mourinho’s United side currently hold a reputation of grinding results out, as oppose to blitzing teams away. Their 4-3-3 system is not getting the best out of United’s attacking stars and it would not be a surprise to fans if he were to alter his setup in a bid to counter Tottenham’s weaknesses.
All eyes will be on Mourinho and his United side who have to put in a solid display. It will be intriguing to see whether the Portuguese sticks to his traditional play style or experiments with something new.
Harry Kane vs Eric Bailly – A chance for redemption?
After breaking his ‘August voodoo’ with a goal against Fulham, Harry Kane will head into this fixture full of confidence, especially after seeing Eric Bailly’s woeful display at Brighton.
Kane is already the hot favourite to win the golden boot this season but Old Trafford is just one of two Premier League grounds that Kane has never scored at. If this run is to continue, then Bailly will have something to do with it.
The Ivorian is undoubtedly United’s best defender but he will feel as though he has some making up to do against Tottenham on Monday. The clash will be an intriguing spectacle as both players are key to their sides success or failure.
Kane will rely on his intelligence and movement in the box if he is to grab a goal against United as he won’t have the pace or legs to sprint past Bailly on or off the ball.
Kieran Trippier vs Luke Shaw – Battle of the English full backs
In the modern game, full backs are arguably the most important position on the footballing field.
For Tottenham, Trippier is their main threat down the right flank and boy is he a threat. The Englishman holds one of the best deliveries in the league and Pochettino will target that right-hand side of the pitch to gain some early encouragement in the game.
Faced with the unenviable task of stopping Trippier will be Luke Shaw, a man with a point to prove this season. Going forward, Shaw is United’s best option down the left but his defensive frailties will be put to the test this Monday.
The Trippier and Kane linkup play is one that United need to restrain if they want to keep their first clean sheet of the season.
Paul Pogba vs Moussa Dembele – The big midfield clash
When Paul Pogba shows up, United look a completely different side. The Frenchman has the ability to transform United’s attacking build-up play and, similar to Dembele, can carry the ball forward with ease.
The Belgian will be tasked with pressing Pogba and restricting his influence on the ball. If Dembele does his defensive job effectively, then United may have a tough day at the office in regards to creating opportunities.
Mourinho and Pochettino should make for a fascinating tactical clash and this fixture could be settled by who prepares their side for the occasion best.
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