Sir Alex Ferguson’s men will once again seek to close the gap at the head of the Premier League, with the Reds facing a daunting trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. Manchester City side pulled five points ahead after beating Bolton Wanderers at home on Saturday, ensuring that Ferguson’s men travel south knowing a result is essential at White Hart Lane.
The omens bode well though, with United having won at the Lane seven times in the past decade, and Harry Redknapp’s side reeling from the thumping handed out by Arsenal last weekend. Indeed, with Ferguson welcoming back Wayne Rooney to the fold following a fortnight’s absence, United arrive in north London in fine spirits and reasonable health.
Despite Tottenham’s surge up the Premier League table under Redknapp’s management the side’s fortunes have suffered in recent weeks. Dropped points against Arsenal, Liverpool and City have eliminated Tottenham from the title reckoning, even if qualification for the Champions League is likely. Whether Spurs’ stuttering form is related to manager Redknapp’s trial for tax evasion, and subsequent status as favourite to take over the England job, is a valid question.
Yet, Ferguson still counts the trip to White Hart Lane as United’s “hardest” away game in the remaining dozen Premier League fixtures. With United also travelling to face City at Eastlands on 30 April, the not-so-subtle dig will have been heard in east Manchester.
“Tottenham is always a tremendous highlight for us. It’s always a tremendous game given the history of both clubs,” said Ferguson on Friday.
“It’s a very important game for us. Look at the rest of the season. You can certainly say we’re building up to what could turn out to be a title decider with Manchester City. This is our hardest away game, no doubt. Hopefully we can navigate it.
“Harry Redknapp’s added lot of players and changed things around. Kyle Walker is a tremendous full back. He has great pace going forward and there’s pace on the other side from Gareth Bale, while Rafael van der Vaart has cleverness off the front. As for Luca Modric, everyone realises what a tremendous player he is. So it’s a team full of talent and they’re having a great season.”
However, Ferguson has some tricky selection decisions to navigate, with many of his squad having played internationals during the week. While Rooney is a certain starter, both Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernández appeared for their countries.
Meanwhile, Tom Cleverley definitely misses out through injury and Goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard is still some way from being available despite reports to the contrary during the week. Chris Smalling, who took a blow to the head during England’s loss to Holland, travelled but may not be risked. Winger Antonio Valencia is in the match party.
“Chicharito’s match in Miami kicked off at 1am our time on Thursday morning so we’ll have to see what he’s like when he gets back,” Ferguson told MUTV.
“He’s got another day [to recover] on Saturday, which is good news but he will still have played four games in 10 days so it’s quite a task for the lad. Danny Welbeck played almost the full game for England too, Nani played 80 minutes for Portugal and Ashley Young had a full game. Jonny Evans played for Northern Ireland so there were quite a few in action on Wednesday but we have the extra day’s recovery as we’re playing on Sunday so that helps us.
However, Ferguson may be able to call on Michael Owen, who is back in full training. The 32-year-old striker has played just four games this season, scoring three goals in the Carling Cup. Injury has once again restricted the former England international’s role at United; a pattern familiar to fans of the striker’s many previous clubs. Sir Alex is having none of it, blaming Owen’s injury record on bad luck.
“Michael has had very good preparation,” added Sir Alex of the striker who has scored just five Premier League goals in three seasons with United.
“He’s done a lot of work with the physios and is ready to join us. It’s good news. I hope he has a bit of luck. He needs that as he’s not had a lot. When he has an injury it always seems to be a long one. Hopefully he’ll be back for the rest of the season, which will help us.”
Meanwhile, Tottenham manager Redknapp should be able to call on key players Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart, Kyle Walker and Ledley King after the quartet picked up injuries in the heavy defeat to Arsenal. It is a huge boost to Spurs, with the side having picked up only eight from a possible 18 points through a difficult run of fixtures. The north London side faces Chelsea next week, before nine winnable games conclude the domestic season.
However, new England captain Scott Parker is missing after being sent off in the 5-2 defeat to Arsenal last weekend.
It should make for an open encounter, with both sides desperate for the win. Indeed, former Spurs midfielder Michael Carrick, who has excelled through the winter, says that United’s last-minute win over Norwich City last weekend has lifted the team ahead of the trip south, with the team also taking confidence from a strong record at the Lane in recent years.
“It is always a good game when we go to Tottenham; it is two teams that play good football and try to play the right way,” admitted Carrick, who played over 60 games for the Londoners.
“Over the years, there have been some classic games. We have a decent record down there. It doesn’t count for much on Sunday but, over the years, we have done quite well. At this time of the season, it starts getting serious. Wins and draws can make a huge difference. You saw last week how we responded and won the game and what it meant to everyone. We will be looking to do the same again.”
With anything less than a win handing the title initiative to City, Carrick understands as well as any the need for professionalism at White Hart Lane. Accusations of complacency, made so loudly after United’s lacklustre performance at Carrow Road last weekend, must not be heard again come Sunday evening.
Yet, the hosts have managed just six draws from the last 25 meetings with United since the Londoners last win in 2001. This is no time to change that record.
Tottenham Hotspur versus Manchester United, Premier League, White Hart Lane, 4 March 2012, 4pm.
Tottenham (4-4-2): Friedel; Walker, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Modric, Sandro, Bale; van der Vaart; Adebayor. Subs from: Cudicini, Rose, Kaboul, Kranjcar, Nelsen, Livermore, Khumalo, Luongo, Dawkins, Defoe, Saha.
United (4-4-1-1): de Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Nani, Scholes, Carrick, Young; Rooney; Welbeck. Subs from: Amos, Rafael, Fabio, Fryers, Smalling, Giggs, Park, Pogba, Valencia, Hernández, Berbatov, Owen.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (Bradford)
Assistants: C Breakspear, M Mullarkey
Fourth Official: A Marriner
Reds seek to close gap at Spurs(107 posts) (17 voices)
youngs been such a great signing I'm not sure if I want him or park to playLKHM
Rooney should be full of running... I'd play him ahead of Berbatov... they haven't always worked together as a pair, but I think this game would suit them"Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don't need badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching' tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you."
My preferred team would be
Rafael, Rio, Evans, Evra
Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Young
Rafael will do well against Bale, Valencia can help too. I'm not worried about Bale and BAE as long as we have Rafael and Valencia playing, Bale will mostly end up closer to the Tottenham goal most of the game.
On the left I don't mind either Young or Nani, but Nani hasn't had been in form lately. That can easily change on Sunday.
Dealing with Adebayor will be a challenge, Evans is on top form but not the most powerful, Rio doesn't usually like a jostle either. United will most likely lose that battle so unless United boss the midfield to limit Adebayor's frame time, we'll concede.Sir Ryan Giggs? No no no. Sir Paul Scholes say.
what the fuck? cleverley is injured again? the kid can't get a break
Alfonso Bedoya said:
Rooney should be full of running... I'd play him ahead of Berbatov... they haven't always worked together as a pair, but I think this game would suit them
Is Rooney fit though or are we still pretending he has a sore throat
If Evra returns I hope he's remembered how to defend, because if he plays like he did before he was rested then we're gonna get done down the left and it will result in at least one goal
Posted by unregistered user: Herbie Simms
Tottenham are burnt out. Easy 3-0 to United.
Posted by unregistered user: max
I have a funny feeling that Berbatov will start up front with Rooney considering that Welbz + Chicharirito had toupg games in midweek for their countries. Come on U RED DEVILS! UNITED!!!!!
berba is being rested again for some vital game in June ffs
what a waste of a talent by SAF
ideal game for him to show his flair but i doubt he will get a look in until the 85th minute
Posted by unregistered user: 19 and Counting
Um…Valencia is injured so sorry to burst your bubble. I think SAF might play Park in MF as we could get run over by Lennon and Bale on the wings. I’m a bit worried about Evra as he’s been caught out many times this season.
Playing Berba might not be a bad idea.
Posted by unregistered user: ichiro
worried about Adebayor and Saha up front.
Berbatov is too slow. Hernandez up top (if fit) with rooney just behind
No Bale for Spurs
Not that he would have made much difference
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, King, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Livermore, Sandro, Modric, Adebayor, Saha. Subs: Cudicini, Giovani, Defoe, Dawson, Kranjcar, Rose, Nelsen.
Man Utd: De Gea, Jones, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Scholes, Young, Rooney, Welbeck. Subs: Amos, Anderson, Giggs, Park, Hernandez, Fabio Da Silva, Rafael Da Silva.
No Rafael in the first XI. Interesting.
think taggart just doesn't like not having jones in the side wherever he's playing, I agree
Have to win. No option.See that Ando has made the bench so when we want to close out the game he can join the Scholes and Carrick.Dear Sir Alex Ferguson, the 4-4-2 formation with two strikers and two central midfielders is DEAD. Please stop playing this. Thank you very much sir. Regards,
A Loyal Fan.
Can't believe they are starting King though. They are so lucky Valencia is injured as he would have them on toast this afternoon for sure.
Anyway guys, all the best. Am already feeling sick.
need to start upbeat
that wet pitch will speed up the ball
i just hope nani is going to have 1 of his more focused games today otherwise we will be cursing the loss of tony v even more - it doesnt take much of a brain to understand the order of look up and cross as opposed to the opposite which he has been doing of late
Come on United.MANCHESTER IS MY HEAVEN- SIR MATT BUSBY
just seen that the ref is atkinson......hmmmmmmm
116205 is a good stream
Hi Han, here we go again.
hi mad red
nail biting stuff for sure
What a stunning first touch from Nani
Sandro is all over Scholes
they are all over us not just scholes
This is not going to end well today.....
Welbeck up front..... FFSThe difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.....
Need to do better in possesion, but they're almost going man to man and not letting em play
That Sandro plays the hard man tenacious tackler role, but he's wearing gloves. Keane would do his nut
You must log in to post.