Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur
Venue: Old Trafford
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Referee: Craig Pawson
August’s bank holiday plays host to a cracking Monday Night Football fixture as Spurs travel to a turbulent Old Trafford in the hopes of making it three wins out of three.
With major speculation arising from the United camp about the relationship between self-proclaimed ‘head coach’ José Mourinho and his players, as well as those above him on the board, a win for the Red Devils would be invaluable in easing some of the tension that has been building up since their 3-2 defeat to Brighton last weekend, not to mention the confidence that would come with emerging victorious from their biggest test of the new season. However, a defeat will certainly fuel the fire and questions will continue to be asked of Mourinho, despite the board stating their faith in the Portuguese manager.
Tottenham on the other hand have the chance to win their first three Premier League fixtures since 2009. Although unconvincing at times, the performances of Pochettino’s men against Newcastle and Fulham were enough to grab three points from each. Another victory on Monday will show the rest of the league that Spurs still mean business, despite the absence of any new arrivals at the club. Beating United at Old Trafford is perhaps not expected of the Lilywhites but doing so could initiate the beginning of rising expectations at the club.
This is no doubt an important match for José Mourinho. Some fans are doubting the ‘Special One’ as the concept of the third-season syndrome looms in their minds. Keeping key players such as Paul Pogba at the club is seemingly more important than keeping their manager, and this week’s Monday Night Football is a chance for Mourinho to undermine this idea, especially against a team that is often cracked by clever tactics rather than individual performances.
Along with many of his French teammates, Paul Pogba shined whilst in the spotlight during the World Cup. The excellence he displayed in the tournament is something we were all aware of but it’s fair to say it hasn’t been completely transferred to life at Manchester United. As a captain, his performance versus Brighton left much to be desired, despite scoring the late penalty to take his goal tally to two. Whether this poor display is down to being unsettled at the club or simply just a dip in form is up for interpretation, but fans will be looking for an improvement when he lines-up vs Tottenham.
Manchester United supporters will be anxious to see if Alexis Sánchez will be fully fit and available for Monday’s clash, but for now the Chilean remains a doubt after his absence in the match against Brighton. A return for Nemanja Matic and Antonio Valencia is on the cards, following their pre-season injuries, while Marcos Rojo, Sergio Romero and Diogo Dalot remain unavailable.
Harry Kane grabbed his first ever August goal last weekend and will be eager to make a habit of it on Monday. Despite his August breakthrough, Kane looks to be still gearing up for hitting his top form after a shorter than usual summer break. You get the feeling that a goal for the Englishman will set him up nicely for the string of difficult fixtures coming up, as well as the upcoming international break.
Victor Wanyama’s ongoing knee injury will keep him out of this fixture, while Heung-Min Son is unlikely to feature even if South Korea were not to reach the next stages of the Asian Games.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw; Fred, Pereira, Pogba; Mata, Martial, Lukaku
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dembélé, Dier, Moura, Eriksen, Alli; Kane
Score Prediction: Manchester United 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1
When it comes to this fixture, the result usually favours the home side. Spurs haven’t taken a point away from Old Trafford since New Year’s Day 2014 and for that reason I think the away side could once again struggle to win, despite being the side in the best form.