Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s red-hot Manchester United travel to London on Sunday to take on Mauricio Pochettino’s title-chasing Tottenham as the Premier League returns.
Spurs are third in the Premier League on 48 points after 21 games, while the appointment of Solskjaer has seen the Red Devils claim four league wins in a row to bring them back into the top-four race.
Spurs will look to complete the league double over United for the first time in the Premier League era, while the Red Devils will be seeking revenge for their heavy 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford earlier this season.
*Please note this article was written prior to Tottenham’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg clash against Chelsea on Tuesday, 8th January 2019.
Man United 5/2
After ending 2018 with a 3-1 defeat at Wembley Stadium against Wolves, Pochettino’s side have started 2019 on a high, netting 10 goals in two games, having won 3-0 at Cardiff on New Year’s Day and 7-0 in the FA Cup third round over League Two side Tranmere Rovers last Friday.
The north London club have won 16 of their 21 games – one less than leaders Liverpool – but have tasted defeat five times in the league this season, twice more than Manchester City (2nd) and Chelsea (4th) have. Surprisingly, three of Spurs’ losses have come at Wembley Stadium – at the hands of Liverpool, Manchester City and Wolves. They had lost just twice from 19 games played there last season.
Pochettino’s side have had some great results this season. They’ve qualified for the Champions League knockout stages, recorded a 3-0 victory away to Manchester United – their biggest win at Old Trafford since winning 4-1 in 1972. They ended Maurizio Sarri’s 12-game unbeaten Premier League run with Chelsea, winning 3-1 at Wembley, and put six past Everton and five past Bournemouth last month.
This will be Son Heung-min’s last game before he leaves to represent South Korea at the Asian Cup. With the deadly front four of Son, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Christian Eriksen on the pitch, Spurs will fancy their chances of beating United on Sunday.
Manchester United have had a disappointing campaign in the Premier League, but the appointment of Solskjaer has rejuvenated the side. The Norwegian came in to replace Jose Mourinho just before the festive period and has had the best possible start – winning all four games with 12 points on the board, 14 goals scored and just three conceded.
Those wins, against Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Newcastle, have helped the Red Devils narrow the gap on the top four to six points, having been 11 points off the pace when Solskjaer took over last month.
Facing Spurs will be Solskjaer’s first big test so far in charge of the Red Devils and the 45-year-old knows it will be a difficult task.
“Spurs away, that’s a proper test,” Solskjaer said. “They have performed fantastically this season, they’ve got a great way of playing. There will be loads of things we need to look at.
“He [Pochettino] has got them performing really well over the last few seasons. Both as individuals and we have to look at the team unit and how we play against them.”
Not only will the Norwegian want to pass Sunday’s test, but he’ll want to beat Pochettino – who is widely regarded as United’s no.1 target to replace Mourinho – and prove to Ed Woodward that he is the right man to land the permanent job.
Spurs outclassed United earlier this season, but this time they’ll face a vibrant United side under Solskjaer, with their major attacking stars – Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in superb form.
Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Winks, Sissoko; Eriksen, Dele; Son, Kane.
Man United: 4-3-3
De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Lingard, Rashford, Martial.
Prediction: Tottenham (21/20)
Kane and Son have scored 22 league goals between them this season and they will create issues for United’s defence, which has been the leakiest among the top-six. I don’t think it will be a one-sided affair, but I fancy Spurs to come out on top here.
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