Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
Manchester United will look to bounce back from what was arguably their lowest moment under Jose Mourinho when they face Spurs at Old Trafford tonight. United fell to a 3-2 defeat at Brighton in what was an awful performance from the Red Devils. Captain for the day, Paul Pogba, conceded afterwards that the team didn’t have the desire or effort to match the hosts and that has inevitably angered and bemused fans. That came on the back of an unconvincing opening day victory over Leicester and means that even at this early stage, United are in something of a crisis, with the future of Mourinho dominating many of the back pages.
For Spurs, there’s no such panic and they head to Manchester with maximum points, however, it’s fair to say that they haven’t hit their best heights yet either. They were very fortunate to defeat Newcastle on the opening day and won an entertaining game against Fulham. Yet, they know all the pressure is on the hosts and it could suit their gameplan.
This game will see two of the ‘big six’ face off and with so much at stake for United it’s one that no football fan will want to miss and should they suffer another defeat then Mourinho will be facing serious questions.
Manchester United vs Tottenham Prediction: Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham
There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a game that United will feel as though they have to win. It will quieten the press and stop the headlines that are becoming very regular. And, despite their struggles at the AMEX Stadium last week, they are a very talented squad. Mourinho, despite what he often says, has some superb individuals and at Old Trafford they should never be underestimated.
The fans are likely to get behind the team initially and there won’t be as much pressure on Mourinho’s side to attack as they face a top four challenger. That will suit the manager and in a one-off game there will not be many writing off Mourinho. We certainly won’t, and feel that Spurs’ dismal record at Old Trafford will continue.
Our recommended tip: Manchester United Win
Firstly, it’s going to be a very hard game for United as you can see the quality that Spurs have. Harry Kane is a top striker and can decide games, whilst they have equally impressive players all over the park. Yet, the major criticism of this team is that they don’t deliver when it really matters, at title rivals and under the spotlight.
That could be the same again and it’s worth noting that United will have a squad that cost significantly more than the Londoners. And, we think that will tell. They have some big-game players who know that the world is watching, know they need a win and even though it most certainly won’t be pretty at all, it could be effective and is exactly what Mourinho thrives under.
This is a regular fixture in English football and will be the 190th meeting between the two sides. Unsurprisingly, given United’s recent history, it’s a fixture they have dominated, winning 90 and losing just 48 of the previous games. Whilst that’s impressive against a good side, what’s alarming for Spurs is their record at Old Trafford. They have lost at that ground more than any other, which includes five successive defeats in their last five. Going back over a longer period, it’s 22 defeats in the past 28 and it could have a bearing on tonight’s encounter.
For Spurs, it’s a similarly bad record at many of the top teams and that is why their mentality is questioned, so it’s something they will have to shake off over the coming years if they are to challenge for the title. Interestingly, of the five successive defeats at Old Trafford, they’ve failed to score, which is surprising given the talent they have in the tea.
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Players to watch: Paul Pogba & Harry Kane
The World Cup winner had a fantastic time in Russia and was influential as the French recorded their second World Cup. Given that, many expected big things from Pogba in the Premier League after what was an inconsistent first season back in England. However, that hasn’t happened. Instead, his relationship with Mourinho is what has dominated the headlines and there was even speculation surrounding his future. Given that, all eyes will be on him tonight and he will need to step up. His talent is undoubted but fans and pundits will want him to deliver on the big occasion and inspire this team in a big game.
Few would argue that Kane is one of the best strikers in the world, however the one criticism, even if slightly unfair, is that he doesn’t deliver enough in the big games, particularly away from home. Old Trafford has not been a happy hunting ground for the player where he has struggled to perform as well as score. This is a chance for him to silence those doubters but more importantly to secure a massive win for his team. Spurs will want to compete for the title again and they are going to need to pick up results at venues like this if they are to be genuine challengers and fulfil the potential that many feel the side has.