It`s Ok Lads ?????.it`s Only Tottenham!
So was the famous pre-match comment of Sir Alex before a game at Old Trafford against Spurs. As Gary Neville used to say “Spurs were always “flakey” at OT. Well we`ll see how confident United are against us this season. The dynamics have changed and the shift of footballing ability has seen us win 2 out of our last 3 matches against United which shows that Poch knows how to play and beat Jose. In fact Jose has only won twice against the top five teams (Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, City & Liverpool) home and away since he took charge at United last year. United play noticeably better at home, winning all four Premier League games at Old Trafford and keeping a clean sheet in each one and that`s without some of their most influential players but, when they do get back, United will be a handful so now is probably a good time to play them at the Theatre of Dreams. United have endured a spate of injuries in the last month, leaving their midfield short and with a suspect defense. Pogba- Ibrahimovic -Carrick – Rojo and Fellaini are all missing Eric Bailly will be back as will be Jones and they will need them as Smalling has been left to do all the heavy lifting recently.
This one will be all about tactics especially if Harry Kane is not fit. If we win this one it will be one in the eye for Pep who thinks we are all Kane and no Spurs. We have seen recently that having all the possession does not provide us with goals. We proved against Dortmund, Real Madrid and Liverpool that we can give the opposition the ball and hit teams on the counter! Let`s face it, United are still seen as a soft touch at the back to a quality attack! Spurs by contrast have a more solid defence, if you don`t count losing a 2-0 lead to West Ham!
There is nothing between us in terms of our respective PL records this season, we have both lost once, we have both drawn two and we have both won 6. On paper this should be a draw but then there is the Kane factor and whether he can play if he does he will get in between Smalling and Jones. As long as there is the space at the back for counter attacks we should win it but if Jose decides to have 9 at the back and 1 up front we`ll struggle! Despite 80% possession at Huddersfield United only got 3 shots on target and Mourinho told his players that their attitude stank! I doubt the United team will need booting up for this one so it`s all about how we contain United and whether Poch comes to United with the intention of stealing the game as he did against Real Madrid.
Huddersfield won because they wanted it more and they matched United for passion and aggression. We can show aggression and we can show United that we want it more but we have to be solid at the back. Lukaku has either scored or assisted in eight of his last 10 Premier League games (eight goals, two assists), but, when you look at his goals, many have come at the end of a match when the game has been pretty well won. Don`t get me wrong Lukaku will need handling and Verts and Alders will have to make sure he doesn`t get room in the box. Lukaku won`t go back and get a ball though, he waits for the service which means we have to cut off his supply. Valencia is a power house and his runs along with Youngs gives United a lot of width Herrera and Mata in Midfield are the engine room and you have to wonder whether Poch would rather play Winks than Dembele whilst he nurses Dembele back to some level of fitness.
Herrera and Martial were singled out by Moaning Mourinho because of their poor performance against the Tykes so that midfield paring may change. Herrera has not been a regular for United so far this season, with summer signing Nemanja Matic taking his place in the first-team, Rashford has pace and, as a team, you would say United have more pace than us but can they get past Aurier and Davies? Rashford can be brilliant and quite naïve at the same time and does run himself into cul de sacs. Liverpool raised their game against United and that game was a shut out so hopefully Poch will look at that and pick up some early clues. We can`t afford to go to sleep like we did on Wednesday night. Although beating West Ham would have been nice, in the grander scheme of things getting into the quarter finals would have added a huge fixture congestion for us in December so maybe that defeat was supposed to happen!
Expect a back 5 of Aurier Verts Alders Sanchez and maybe Davies over Rose with Dier sitting in front and Winks taking the ball to the box, the question is whether Poch will play Kane or start Lorente and Eriksen just behind or tinker around with the midfield to try and outnumber United in Midfield and drop Dele deeper. Poch only needs a win or a draw Mourinho has to win to send a message, and to do that in these kind of games, means the best form of defence will be attack. A fast start for us would be ideal. Mourinho has failed to win all 19 Premier League games in which his side have been two goals behind. If we can hold the mighty Real we can certainly get more out of this United game, especially if we show the same concentration levels as we did at the Bernabéu then we must come away with some kind of result. COYS!