A tantalising Premier League battle is expected to ensue at the Old Trafford on Wednesday night when fifth-placed Manchester United are pitted against third-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
The Red Devils looked without answers in front of goal and were held to a goalless draw with Newcastle United at home last weekend and they will be desperate to return to winning ways. Meanwhile, Spurs, who secured a 2-0 win over Everton in their last game, will be looking to maintain their grip in the top half of the table.
Manchester United’s previous affair with Newcastle United got shrouded with refereeing controversy as both Jadon Sancho and Callum Wilson thought that they had legitimate calls for penalty kicks dismissed by referee Craig Pawson.
Despite what the 0-0 scoreline might suggest, the contest at Old Trafford wasn’t short of action by any means. Newcastle’s Joelinton struck the woodwork twice in the space of a few seconds but on both occasions, he failed to divert his header into the back of the net.
There was also a peculiar case of Cristiano Ronaldo interrupting and intercepting Nick Pope’s free-kick to put the ball into the net but the referee obviously thought differently and the move was ruled out.
The Red Devils manager Erik Ten Hag has now had to witness his side’s three-match winning run in all competitions coming to a close on Sunday following the stalemate with Newcastle. He must go back to the drawing board and inspire his men to pick up the pieces and continue from where they left off.
Manchester United have some ground to make up for in the English top flight as they are now three points behind Chelsea in fourth while league leaders Arsenal have already opened up an 11-point lead. United also trail Tottenham Hotspur by seven points going into this encounter.
While manager ten Hag believes that there were plenty of positives to take away from the showdown with Eddie Howe’s side last weekend, United haven’t been convincing recently given that their pair of wins over Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League as well as their success over Everton in England have all been won by just a single goal margin on each occasion and they also looked quite underwhelming at certain stages.
Man United’s eight-game scoring streak in the Premier League at Old Trafford was also brought to an end by Newcastle last week, but only two of their last 17 top-flight games in front of their own fans have ended in defeat, and no team has posted more than their 72 Wednesday victories in the competition.
While both Manchester United and Newcastle United would feel that they were at the wrong end of refereeing decisions and weren’t correctly awarded the penalties that they deserved, Tottenham Hotspur were on the correct end of such a penalty call as they received a second-half spot-kick after captain Harry Kane was fouled inside the box by opposition keeper Jordan Pickford.
While there were a few suggestions that the England captain had gone down too easily inside the box after making a light contact with Pickford, he banished his Champions League spot-kick woes by converting from 12 yards and giving Spurs the lead on his 400th appearance for the club.
Fortunately, there was nothing questionable about Tottenham’s second goal of the evening as Pierre Emile Hojbjerg’s shot took a deflection off Alex Iwobi into the back of the net and Spurs had put the Toffees out of their misery with less than four minutes remaining on regulated time.
Their second-half success came on the back of their persistence and patience in the first half as Antonio Conte’s side struggled to break down a dogged Everton defence. However, morale in the camp will be high after the win especially after knowing the fate of Manchester City following their 1-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield.
That defeat allowed Spurs to move level with the defending English champions with 23 points. However, Spurs are placed lower at third on the basis of their lower goal difference compared to City. They are also four points behind league leaders and arch-rivals Arsenal.
It is now three wins on the bounce for the North London club in all competitions, but rival turf has not been so kind to them, as they have only won two of their seven away matches in all tournaments this season and have just three goals to boast from their last five on the road.
Cristiano Ronaldo rolled back the years with a hat-trick to propel Man United to a 3-2 victory in this fixture last season, which came a few months after the Red Devils triggered Nuno Espirito Santo’s sacking with a 3-0 win in North London, and Conte is also at risk of suffering a fourth consecutive defeat away to the Red Devils as a manager.
MUN vs TOT, Premier League 2022/23
Date: 20th October, 2022
Time: 12:45 AM IST
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
Manchester United Premier League form:
Manchester United form (all competitions):
Tottenham Hotspur Premier League form:
Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions):
Manchester United wins: 95
Tottenham Hotspur wins: 53
Manchester United Team News:
Manchester United have struggled with injuries aplenty this season and their treatment room is still working at full capacity as they prepare to host Tottenham at the Old Trafford. Axel Tuanzebe (unspecified injury), Brandon Williams (unspecified injury), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (muscle problem), Harry Maguire (hamstring issue), Donny van de Beek (muscle problem) and Anthony Martial (back injury) all missed the draw with Newcastle at home.
While Maguire and Martial are not too far from making their comebacks to the pitch, they will not be forced into contention by this week itself. The returns of Martin Dubravka and Scott McTominay are also expected given that the pair missed out at the weekend through ineligibility and suspension respectively.
Midfield maestro Christian Eriksen is also said to be suffering from an illness and it remains to be seen whether he’s able to recover in time to face his former club. If he doesn’t recover in time, McTominay and Casemiro could form the midfield pairing.
On the other hand, Cristiano Ronaldo will aim to replicate his hat-trick in this fixture last season if he can convince manager Ten Hag to keep him in the starting lineup. Marcus Rashford will have a thing or two to say about that, though, especially after his inspired second-half cameo against Newcastle United last weekend.
Tottenham Hotspur Team News:
Going into the clash with the Red Devils in Manchester, Tottenham Hotspur have also picked up a couple of fresh injury concerns following their bout with Everton. Richarlison went down with a calf injury early into the second half against Everton, and he was pictured leaving the stadium on crutches, putting his World Cup participation in major doubt.
Dejan Kulusevski also remains doubtful after suffering a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Emerson Royal is set to serve the third and final game of his suspension, as Matt Doherty continues to deputise at the right-back slot.
Antonio Conte might be forced into making changes in the formation given Richarlison and Kulusevski’s absences because of injuries. Yves Bissouma could be introduced into a likely 3-5-2 formation with Harry Kane leading the attack once again as he aims to become the first Tottenham player in history to score in six successive Premier League games.
Kane has already record 10 goal contributions to begin the season with a bang and the only reason that there’s not enough noise about it is because of a certain Erling Haaland’s record-breaking exploits in Manchester, not too far from the Old Trafford stadium.
Conte said in his pre-game press conference that he wanted to stick with a 3-4-3, with Perisic potentially moving further forward, but it remains to be seen if that admission was simply mind games from the 53-year-old.
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia; Casemiro, McTominay; Antony, Fernandes, Sancho; Rashford
Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Romero, Dier, Davies; Doherty, Hojbjerg, Bissouma, Bentancur, Perisic; Son, Kane
In their previous encounter with Everton, the introduction of Yves Bissouma proved to be a game-changer for Antonio Conte and it allowed Tottenham to notch up two second half goals. With that being said, however, the Lilywhites have flattered to deceive on the road so far this season, and Manchester United could prove to be a tough nut to crack at Old Trafford.
While The Red Devils are expected to take confidence in the fact that they bested Tottenham in their last two Premier League meetings with them, but Erik Ten Hag’s side have been underwhelming in recent games and they must need to dig deep in order to prevail against Conte’s men. Therefore, a low-scoring draw could prove to be the most likely result of the contest.