On Sunday (4.30pm), there is a juicy Premier League clash at Old Trafford as Manchester United host Tottenham. The visitors look to stay in the race for the title, while the hosts will be looking to edge closer to the all-important top four. Both teams will arrive fresh off the back of FA Cup wins, but can either get what they want here?
After yet another disappointing Premier League defeat, losing by two goals to one away against Nottingham Forest, the Manchester United players were once again looking to bounce back as they took on League One’s Wigan in the FA Cup on Monday night in what was very much a banana-skin tie. Fortunately, they avoided further embarrassment and got the job done, much as a Premier League side should, and will now be looking to kick on.
After beating Bournemouth on New Year’s Eve, making up for their rather tame effort at Brighton a few days earlier, Spurs found themselves playing on a Friday night. They took on fellow Premier League side Burnley in the FA Cup. Despite not playing particularly well, they came through unscathed, thanks in no small part to a thunderous strike from Pedro Porro, whose 78th minute effort was enough to secure the win. Can Postecoglou’s men now make it three wins on the spin?
MUFC problems at both ends
For much of this season, Sunday’s hosts Man Utd have struggled to get going in the final third. They have often struggled to impose themselves, while they certainly lack an out-and-out goal scorer, as is illustrated by the fact that one-time defensive midfielder Scott McTominay, who has reinvented his game this term, is their top scorer in the league with five goals. MUFC only have three other players who’ve scored two or more league goals this season, with Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho netting three each. Such a stat won’t exactly strike fear into the heart of the visitors.
Not only have the Red Devils struggled in the final third, especially compared to other top-half teams, but they have also started to find life tough at the back. Last time out in the league, Erik ten Hag’s men conceded twice in defeat to Nottingham Forest, ceding two or more goals for the third game in a row following doing so against both West Ham and Aston Villa. Even at home, they have struggled to keep teams quiet of late, giving away five goals in their last two home games, while they have kept a clean sheet in just one of their last nine home games in the league, conceding at least twice in five of those nine.
Tottenham continuing to offer plenty going forward
The visitors, Spurs, under a manager who is clearly intent on playing an attacking brand of football, have also been quite open of late and they too have found clean sheets hard to come by, but unlike their hosts here, they have scored lots of goals throughout the campaign. Even when they were second-best against Brighton recently, they still scored two goals, while they once again thrived offensively when notching three against Bournemouth on New Year’s Eve.
Playing on the road has hardly hindered their offensive progress either. In fact, Postecoglou’s men are the Premier League top away scorers at this stage of the season. They have scored 22 goals in 10 away games, netting two or more in eight of those ten. Such a stat bodes well ahead of a game against a Man Utd side that has found it very tough to keep things tight of late, even when surrounded by the comforts of home.
Home teams on top in this one
In recent times, the home side in this fixture has thrived. None of the last four renewals have been won by the visiting teams, while three of those four have gone the way of the hosts. When the teams met earlier in the campaign, on match-day two, Spurs won by two goals to nil in front of a home crowd. When the pair last met at Old Trafford, it was United who won 2-0, while they won the meeting before that 3-2.
Visitors THFC easy to side with at the prices
In the betting with the bookmakers, there are a few angles of attack worth exploring ahead of this fixture. At the early odds ‘Tottenham Draw No Bet’ is tempting, as is ‘Tottenham to Score Over 1.5 Goals’. Though maybe just backing them to win is the more straightforward option at better odds.
In terms of offensive quality, there is clearly a big difference between the two and that could be telling on Sunday. While Manchester United have huffed, puffed but ultimately failed to blow down any houses of note in the final third, averaging just 1.1 goals per game, the visitors have thrived in the final third. THFC have made promising headway against almost every team that they have encountered, averaging a very pleasing 2.1 goals per game.
Sure, Spurs will be without the influential Heung-min Son, who has left temporarily to represent his nation at the AFC Asian Cup, but they have several other influential offensive players to call upon. New signing Timo Werner offers plenty of counter-attacking pace, which could come in handy against a dodgy United back-line.
As the league table suggests, there is a relatively sizable gap in quality between the pair overall, while it is Spurs who have simply had more to offer offensively. This may be an away game, but they have thrived away from an attacking point of view this season, while they have the pace in that forward line, with Werner adding to the lightning quick strides of Brennan Johnson, to hurt this United team on the break, much like other teams have done of late.
Take the early value and bet on the visitors to enjoy themselves at Old Trafford at what can only be described as eye-catching odds:
Bradley Gibbs is an experienced football writer. He is an expert analyst on Premier League, and all global football leagues & tournaments, for Just Bookies. Bradley has been published by many respected outlets, including USA Betting and the Racing & Football Outlook. He has also written betting strategy guides.