20:00 BST, Monday 27th August, Old Trafford (Manchester, England) Sky Sports
Having collected another week’s worth of negative headlines, Jose Mourinho made short work of his press conference ahead of this match. Defeat on the South Coast to Brighton has heightened fears that a long season lies ahead for the Red Devils but that could all change with a win over title-chasing Spurs.
Mauricio Pochettino has already gone a long way to eradicating the early season pessimism which surrounded his club. Looking to maintain their 100% start, victory for Spurs would be Pochettino’s 200th win with the club and Manchester United’s second defeat of the season.
With the Argentine manager yet to see his side take a point or score a goal at Old Trafford, Victory here would prove another step in the right direction for the North London club and another tricky week for Mourinho to negotiate.
Last Time Out
Brighton 3-2 Manchester United (Premier League)
Manchester United suffered their third successive league defeat away to Brighton as their lacklustre performance delivered a just result.
A relatively low-key beginning gave way midway through the first half. Brighton scored twice in as many minutes to take firm control of the match although Romelu Lukaku should possibly have scored before that.
The Belgian striker did bring an element of belief back for the visitors, however, a rash challenge from Eric Bailly restored Brighton’s two-goal advantage from the penalty spot just before half time.
While both centre backs looked short of confidence and full of mistakes, there was little quality further up the pitch to mask their poor performances. United failed to build any momentum in the game and were unable to force the tempo or their way back into the contest.
A late penalty from Paul Pogba restored a small amount of respectability to the final score but there was many problems left for Mourinho to sift through at full time.
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Fulham (Premier League)
Spurs overcame a technically proficient Fulham side with a solid a clinical display that was worthy of all three points.
Pochettino surprised many onlookers by starting Toby Alderweireld as he switched his team to a 3-5-2 formation for this match. A slow start to both halves eventually saw this give way, however, Davinson Sánchez was the defender to make way as Alderweireld put in a solid performance on his return to the team.
Harry Kane wrote the headlines by scoring his first-ever goal in August after Lucas Moura and then Kieran Trippier had gave Spurs a lead.
There was potentially a more significant appearance from another Harry when Winks came on for the final minutes after eight months since he suffered his ankle injury.
Manchester United Lineup
Mourinho could find himself boosted by the return of Alexis Sanchez, Nemanja Matic and Antonio Valencia while Luke Shaw looks set to shake off the ankle injury he picked up last weekend.
Sergio Romero (knee) Diogo Dalot (knee) and Marcos Rojo (knock) will still be unavailable but Chris Smalling may return to central defence and Jesse Lingard could make his first start of the new season this weekend.
Despite returning to training earlier this week, Victor Wanyama (knee) is Tottenham’s only injury concern although Heung-Min Son is still at the Asia Games with South Korea and will again be missing from the Spurs squad.
Mousa Dembélé and Harry Winks are likely to be omitted from the starting XI once more while Hugo Lloris is expected to start despite finding himself charged with a drink-driving charge this week. This could lead Pochettino to naming an unchanged lineup to the one used against Fulham.
Key Battle: Alexis Sanchez (Manchester United) vs Lucas Moura (Tottenham Hotspur)
Much of the threat from both teams will come from the wide areas of the pitch and their South American wingers may prove the difference for their team.
After a slow start to life at Old Trafford, Sanchez looked to have prospered from a summer holiday. His return to form in pre-season is yet to be translated into the new season but the ex-Arsenal player was the man-of-the-match in these club’s previous meeting last season.
Moura is another player who has slowly eased into his new environment. Having now scored his first Premier League goal, Moura will have the belief to add to his pacey, direct running.
The forwards defensive work was equally impressive against Fulham, however, winning four of his six tackles, both of his aerial challenges and making two interceptions to help set the tone of Tottenham’s game. Pochettino will hope that this type of work-rate can prove decisive for his team at Old Trafford on Monday night.
Lacking good intentions
Much has been written about the air of negativity suffocating Manchester United’s play and it was clearly visible again last Sunday. Despite trailing and needing a goal, there was a startling lack of urgency in their play which resulted in few shots being taken.
From their first two matches, United have recorded the sixth-highest amount of possession (55%) yet have spent the least amount of time in the opposition’s third of the pitch (20%).
At Brighton, they also became the first team finishing a match with 11 players this season to collectively run less than 100km (99.5km compared to Brighton’s 108.5km). While eight players in that team were in the quarter-finals of this summer’s World Cup, Tottenham are a club who face a similar problem this season meaning this excuse can’t be used after Monday’s match.
Deal or no deal
The summer contract negotiations involving Christian Eriksen continue to rumble quietly in the background at Spurs. Now into the penultimate year of his current deal, Eriksen has a strong hand to bargain with in trying to strike a lucrative set of terms for himself.
With the likes of Alderweireld and Danny Rose having ran their respective contracts down in recent years, there is a natural fear that Eriksen could be set to follow this unwanted trend.
Despite this, the current bonus-based system brings more good than bad to Tottenham’s set-up behind the scenes. With Alderweireld coming back into the frame last weekend, it’s entirely possible that many fans’ fears could prove ill-founded.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Recent form suggests this should be a comfortable win for the away team but these games rarely play out that way.
Top teams are at their most dangerous after suffering defeat and the Red Devils will be a wounded animal after being humbled on the South Coast last weekend. With both teams eager to secure victory, this should prove an open and attacking game of football which could end as a high-scoring draw. 2-2
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