The teams who sit second and third in the Premier League table meet when Manchester United host in-form Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on Saturday (12:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
The two sides experienced differing fortunes in the Carabao Cup in midweek. United won 2-0 away to Swansea, while Spurs surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 2-3 at home to West Ham. But it is the league and European competition that are the primary focuses for both.
In the league, the two teams are tied on 20 points, five shy of leaders Manchester City but four clear of the chasing pack. United’s superior goal difference sees them currently occupy second place but dropped points in each of their last two matches have made that position vulnerable.
Jose Mourinho’s side suffered a surprise 1-2 defeat away to Huddersfield last weekend. It was a poor performance, particularly in terms of chances created, and Mourinho didn’t hold back in criticising his players afterwards, saying that their poor attitude had been the primary reason for the defeat. How the players will react to that remains to be seen.
On the back of a tedious 0-0 draw away to Liverpool the week before, the loss allowed local rivals Man City to pull further clear at the top of the Premier League table. With Spurs on Saturday and a trip to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea the following week, there is the potential for what had been a highly promising start to the season to begin to unravel a little.
Man Utd are currently dogged by injuries, with Paul Pogba again expected to miss out on Saturday, as are Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini and Marcos Rojo. But given the huge amounts of money spent on the squad in recent years that would be a weak excuse for a downturn. It may, however, provide Mourinho with the little extra bit of motivation and reasoning for the negative approach he is likely to adopt against a Spurs side in great form.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Mourinho has always been happy to shut up shop against high-quality teams[/quote]
Tottenham travel to Old Trafford on the back of four consecutive league victories and four wins in their four league away matches to date. After dropping points in three of their first five matches of the campaign, their subsequent form and underlying numbers have both been very strong. They appear to again be positioning themselves for a title challenge.
Two goals in the first quarter-hour set them on route to a 4-1 thrashing of Liverpool last weekend. Even with their three primary central midfielders out injured, they were still able to comfortably outmanoeuvre their visitors. Harry Kane scored twice to increase his tally for the season to 13, while Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli also got themselves on the scoresheet.
Coming just a few days after a highly credible draw away to Real Madrid in the Champions League, it was a performance that highlighted both the quality that Spurs possess and the increased flexibility that coach Mauricio Pochettino has shown this season. In previous years, his side had rather walked into Liverpool’s trap. This time around, they adjusted their approach and easily cut through the away defence with sharp and direct attacks.
It will therefore be interesting to see how Spurs plan out Saturday’s match. As mentioned in this preview, Mourinho has always been a coach who is happy to shut up shop in matches against other high-quality teams. Even the increased attacking potency of his own side this season was insufficient to see him deviant from that tendency when playing away to Liverpool a couple of weeks ago. Pochettino must therefore strike a good balance between proactivity and caution.
With Moussa Dembele possibly in line for a start after receiving a 20-minute runout in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday and Eric Dier back to full strength after recovering from illness, Pochettino has a wider variety of options at his disposal than he did last weekend and should therefore be able to come up with a similarly good approach for Saturday’s match.
Man Utd have defeated Tottenham at Old Trafford in each of Pochettino’s three seasons at the helm but that streak is likely to come to an end this weekend. Spurs have the necessary personnel and tactical cohesion to secure at least a point from their trip to Manchester.
Our Preview’s Man Utd vs. Tottenham Betting Tips Verdict
With the preview above in mind and a keen eye on the value available with the best sports betting websites, these are our Man Utd vs Spurs betting tips:
- Back Tottenham Hotspur +0.25 on an Asian Handicap @ evens with Bet365.
- Bet on 2-3 goals on the exact total goals market @ best odds of 11/10 with BetVictor.
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