Manchester United have a brilliant record against Tottenham Hotspur and will obviously be hoping that continues today so we can reclaim our place on top of the table. Despite playing three games more, City are only one point clear at the top, so our superior goal difference means even a draw would see us move up.
Is a draw good enough?
For me, I would take a draw today. It goes without saying a win would be ideal, particularly when considering our disappointing away form this season, but Spurs are a good side with aspirations of Champions League football against next season, so to think a win can be taken for granted is a bit naive.
Only Chelsea, City and ourselves have a better home record that Spurs this season, although they have dropped points in five of their eleven home games this season.
Spurs will feel as though they have a point to prove though and have developed a siege mentality where United are concerned. They harp on about the penalty we were awarded in our 5-2 thrashing a couple of seasons ago (and ignore that Palacios should have been given a straight red for a dreadful lunge on Cristiano Ronaldo). They complain about Nani’s goal against them this season (and ignore the fact Gomes was in possession of the ball but screwed up and that there was only 5 minutes left to play, we were already 1-0 up, and they only had 2 shots on target over 90 minutes). They bang on about the Mendes goal and… oh ok, fair shout on the Mendes goal. In real time, without the aid of the replay, it was fucking obvious it was a goal. Still, they’ve allowed themselves to build up quite a complex and the fans are going to be after blood. Mike Dean will have to be strong.
The good news for United is that the team is about as strong as we could hope for, long term injuries aside.
VDS, Rafael, Rio, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Giggs, Berbatov and Rooney.
I thought Giggs was dreadful against Stoke but he redeemed himself in the Cup game against Liverpool. Whilst he doesn’t have the pace he once did, he still has ability to twist and turn to beat his man, although I am looking forward to seeing the return of Antonio Valencia next month.
We’ll be looking for Fletch to mop up and try and keep on Rafael Van der Vaart, whilst hopefully Michael Carrick will attempt some forward passes through to our attack. Rooney and Berbatov have done well when they’ve played alongside each other this season, so hopefully that will continue. Rooney will be raring to go and looking to boost his dismal goal tally this season. For all the criticism of his form and lack of goals, before his injury against West Brom he was beginning to look like the world beater of the previous season and we’ve missed the energy he instils in to our team.
Rafael had Bale in his back pocket at Old Trafford, with the Welshman who is so frequently praised in the media struggling to make an impact. He destroyed Maicon and will be looking to boost his reputation further. Fortunately for us, Rafael has come on leaps and bounds as the season has progressed and has his own reputation to think about.
I’m really chuffed with our starting XI, but then we also have great options on the bench. Anderson, Scholes and Chicharito stand out, with Evans, Owen and Smalling also there. We can see how the game is going and work out what we might need to change around. Anderson has the ability to run through the midfield to take the ball forward, Scholes can ping it about, and if we’re looking for a last minute winner, Chicharito is our man. Our strength in depth when not suffering too heavily from injuries is amazing. Can you imagine if we had Hargreaves and Valencia to pick from too?
Sir Alex Ferguson has shown his is capable of producing tactics to contain Arsenal and maybe that’s the same approach he’ll take today. The requirement today is a point and if we can take a win as well, then brilliant.
Come on reds!
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