Manchester United will be bidding to bounce back from their humiliating home defeat to Liverpool when they travel to North London in Saturday’s late kickoff to take on Tottenham Hotspur. The Red Devils suffered a 5-0 home loss to their bitter rivals in the Premier League last Sunday, while Spurs were also beaten on the same afternoon, going down 1-0 at the home of West Ham United.
Tottenham suffered back-to-back 1-0 defeats to Vitesse and West Ham in the Europa Conference League and Premier League respectively on October 21 and October 24, but they were able to return to winning ways on Wednesday, recording a 1-0 victory over Burnley to advance to the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup.
In many ways, it has been a strange start to the season for the North London outfit, who have won five and lost four of their nine league games to collect 15 points, which has left them in the sixth position, two points from fourth-placed West Ham United and one spot and indeed one position above their opponents on Saturday.
Spurs have found it challenging to show consistency this term. Still, they managed to record important league wins over Aston Villa and Newcastle United before the one-goal reverse at West Ham. The fact that the capital outfit is sixth at this stage must be taken as a positive.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side has only actually scored nine times in their nine league games this season. In contrast, Harry Kane has registered just once in England’s top flight this term, with the 28-year-old suffering a hangover following his failure to secure a move away from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium over the summer.
Spurs have only won one of their last five Premier League games against Man United; meanwhile, the capital outfit suffered a 3-1 defeat in the corresponding contest between the two teams last season.
Man United, meanwhile, was thumped at home by Liverpool last weekend, with Mohamed Salah scoring three times in a five-goal victory for the Reds, and the result piled the pressure on head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Still, it does appear that the Norwegian will lead the team against Spurs, Whether Solskjaer keeps the job on a long-term basis remains to be seen, but there is no question that there is immense pressure on the 48-year-old, who will be demanding a response from his players on Saturday after his “darkest day” at the helm.
The Red Devils sit top of their Champions League group despite three underwhelming performances in Europe this term. Still, they have now lost three of their last four league matches – collecting just a single point in the process – which has seen them drop down to the seventh position in the table.
The 20-time English champions have collected just 14 points from their nine matches and are now eight points behind division leaders Chelsea. In contrast, they have conceded 15 times, with only Leeds United, Watford, Newcastle United, and Norwich City shipping more after nine games of the 2021-22 Premier League season.
Man United lost their long unbeaten away league record against Leicester on October 16. Still, they have enjoyed themselves against Tottenham in the past, winning 36 of their previous 58 Premier League games, suffering just ten defeats in the process.
Tottenham will again be without the services of Ryan Sessegnon due to a long-term hamstring problem. At the same time, Bryan Gil is unlikely to be available, having picked up a thigh issue against Burnley in the EFL Cup on Wednesday.
Nuno has no other injury concerns at this stage, and the manager could decide to select the same team that took to the field for the first whistle against West Ham last weekend.
Kane and Son Heung-min are certainties to feature in the final third of the field, while Lucas Moura and Tanguy Ndombele should also feature from the first whistle, with Oliver Skipp lining up in midfield.
Giovani Lo Celso and Steven Bergwijn are perhaps the two players pushing hardest to break into the first XI, but Nuno could ultimately resist the temptation to shuffle his pack.
Man United, meanwhile, will be without the services of Paul Pogba through suspension, with the France international receiving a straight red card after coming on as a substitute against Liverpool.
The Red Devils could be boosted by the return of Raphael Varane, though, as the center-back has returned to training following a groin problem, meaning that he could be back into the side on Saturday.
Anthony Martial and Amad Diallo will also hope to be involved in the squad, with both players potentially overcoming injuries in time for the contest.
Solskjaer is unlikely to make wholesale changes from the Liverpool loss, but Nemanja Matic could come into the midfield. At the same time, Jadon Sancho might be handed a spot on the right, with Mason Greenwood dropping out.
Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard are both options for change. Still, it is difficult to imagine Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo dropping out of the starting XI despite the recent speculation.
Though a perennially under-pressure figure, it is pretty remarkable how quickly things have unraveled to this dire extent for Solskjaer, and it feels like just a matter of time before he is eventually relieved of his duties, regardless of upcoming results.
Rumblings of discontent from the dressing room won’t help his cause at all. The tactics on display against rampant Liverpool were awful, to put it kindly, with United’s half-hearted attempts at pressing off-the-ball alarmingly deficient and utterly lacking in cohesion.
This is undoubtedly a tough run of fixtures for United, but a trip to face this Tottenham side shouldn’t be looked at as incredibly daunting.
The oft-pedestrian hosts are a strict watch under Nuno and need to offer more in attack if they take advantage of even reeling opponents this weekend.
Our experts foresee a full-time draw that does little to help the case of either manager.