Can United keep up with the pace?
Man City’s relentless home form continued yesterday, with them making it 14 wins out of 14 wins at Eastlands and opening up the gap on their cross town rivals to 5 points. Sir Alex Ferguson has stated that he’ll be happy to be within striking distance (2 points) for the Manchester derby at the end of the season, however to make that happen they’ll need to match City’s results. Whilst City arguably have a tougher run-in after this game, if United don’t manage to win today they’d be relying on other teams to do them a favour, which is never a comfortable position to be in. As such United will be certainly looking for the 3 points today, and I expect them to go on the attack as they look to get the goals they’ll need.
Will Spurs end another hoodoo?
In recent years Spurs have managed to end long winless streaks against both Chelsea & Arsenal, however they’ve struggled to break the hold Man Utd have held over them, having failed to beat them in their past 21 league encounters (and only picking up 5 draws in that streak). However this is arguably the best team Spurs have had in this period, and at White Hart Lane they’ll be confident of taking the 3 points today. They’ve overwhelmed the majority of teams they’ve faced at home this season, winning 10 of their 13 home games and conceding only 10 goals in the process (the joint 2nd least in the league). Whilst this is undoubtedly one of the toughest tests they’ll face, it’s not a vintage United team and if they play to their potential they have the quality to take the spoils.
Key Men: Manchester United
Wayne Rooney returns from illness after missing the past 2 games and will likely be the key man if United are to win today. For an experienced player he is still a bit inconsistent in big games and is almost as likely to be the worst player on the pitch as the best. However, when on song he’s unstoppable, and he’ll be keen to remind the football world just how good he can be.
Paul Scholes has been instrumental in keeping United in the title race and Ferguson will once again be relying on his ginger maestro to keep things ticking over in the midfield. Whilst no longer possessing the box-to-box running ability of his former years, he still has the experience & knowledge to make sure he’s usually in the right place at the right time. If he has a good game today United will feel confident of getting a positive result.
Key Men: Tottenham Hotspur
Gareth Bale has arguably had a better season this year than last, when he claimed the PFA player of the year. He’s a serious threat on goal, scoring 9 goals in the Premier League this season, and if given time and space to run with the ball will scare any defender. His participation in this game is still under doubt, but if he makes it onto the pitch he’ll certainly be one to keep an eye on.
Luka Modric will be fielding an extra responsibility in this game with Scott Parker missing through suspension. The defensive side of his game is often overlooked, but he hasn't been afraid to put his foot in where necessary during his time in England. Much of Tottenham's play goes through him, and when he's on form he's capable of making his whole team play better.
Despite the history of this fixture, or perhaps because of it, I fancy a Spurs victory tonight. I’m still not convinced about this current United team and feel that if Spurs attack them from the off they’ll be able to grab an early goal and make Rooney’s return a frustrating one.
Spurs 2 Manchester United 1