Wednesday 31 January 2018

Match preview: Tottenham v United

From the humble and inauspicious surroundings of Huish Park, United make the trip to the glamorous stage of Wembley as the Reds head to the capital and Tottenham Hotspur's temporary home as attention switches to Premier League affairs. United are, of course, no strangers to the national stadium, with this our 50th match to be played at the venue. For the first time in our history, though, United will play a league match at Wembley, where Spurs reside this season, while their new ground is built on the site of the old White Hart Lane. 

United maintained our peerless start to 2018 with a comfortable 4-0 FA Cup win at Yeovil last time out - a result that yielded a fifth consecutive victory coupled with a sixth successive clean sheet. That miserly record will be tested to the fore by the exploits of Spurs ever prolific striker, Harry Kane, who again leads the race for the Golden Boot with 30 goals this term in all competitions. It was he who rescued Spurs from FA Cup humilitation at the hands of lowly Newport on Sunday as his late equalier salvaged a replay and ensured the two sides will meet again at Wembley.
Kane missed October's reverse fixture at Old Trafford through injury, a top of the table clash settled by substitute Anthony Martial's late winner. That put United three points ahead of Mauricio Pochettino's men, a gap that has now turned into an eight-point advantage. Having finished third and second in the last two campaigns, Spurs have found themselves off the pace this season and come into this tie in fifth place, five adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool - the Reds will move eleven points ahead of our hosts with victory here.

Alexis Sanchez is in line for his first league start against his former side's fiercest rivals, with the Chilean have impressed on his debut in Somerset. As an ex-Gunner, Alexis is set to receive a hostile reception on a stage fitting for his Premier League bow. Michael Carrick returned to action at Yeovil after almost five months out, and could feature against his former side. There are no new injury worries for United, with Eric Bailly still sidelined and Zlatan Ibrahimovic - linked with a move to the MLS - also not yet ready for a comeback.  Spurs are boosted by the potential returns of key duo Hugo Lloris and Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen. Toby Alderweireld (hamstring), Erik Lamela (muscular injury), Serge Aurier (calf) and Harry Winks (ankle) are all expected to miss out for Tottenham.

Jose said that although Spurs are not title contenders this time around, they will still provide a stiff challenge for United.
He said: "Spurs are one of the top teams in the country, they will not challenge for the league title because they are too far away, but I say honestly that they are a Champions League contender, they for sure can reach that level. They have some of the best players in the country, a very good manager and are a very difficult opponent for any team. 
"It is a really big game, important, the difference between Spurs and us is seven or eight points, but the reality is they are top team in terms of their quality and ambitions, and a team on our level, so it is a big match. It is in an amazing stadium and one for us to enjoy." 

Form guide: Tottenham W D W W D D  United D W W W W W 
Match odds: Tottenham 13/10 Draw 13/8 United 6/5
Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)

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