Reds face sternest test at Spurs

Manchester United face the biggest test of an unbeaten Premier League season at White Hart Lane, in full knowledge of Tottenham Hotspur’s renaissance. The Londoners’ progression under Harry Redknapp has ensured Spurs remain an outside bet for this season’s title and comfortable qualifiers for the Champions League second round.

Indeed, Spurs’ growth under Redknapp portends a return to the heights the club last experienced in the 1960s, save for the odd cup final. Unlikely winners of the Premier League perhaps but United’s manager Sir Alex Ferguson is more than aware of the threat now posed.

“Tottenham are one of the traditionally really good clubs with the proper philosophy of the game,” said Ferguson on Friday.

“You have to look back to 1960-61 under Bill Nicholson, the first club to win the Double in the post-war era, who were an incredible team and had exciting players like Danny Blanchflower and Dave Mackay. It was an incredible spell. That will always be the standard Spurs have to set for themselves.”

Yet, for all Spurs recent form it is United that remains favourites to land a 19th domestic title, if Ferguson’s team can negotiate trips not only to White Hart Lane, but Stamford Bridge, the Emirates and Anfield before the season is out. Unbeaten but generally poor away from home this season, the Reds will have to improve if Ferguson’s outfit is to maintain its current unbeaten streak.

United’s current run of 25 Premier League matches unbeaten is just four short of the club record top-flight of 29 games achieved in 1998/99.

Yet, much as there is to be admired about Spurs’ style and particularly the lavishly talented midfield Redknapp has assembled very little cost, it is Ferguson’s outfit that has all run-in experience. It’s a fact the Scot tellingly notes with a warning to Sunday’s hosts.

“The bigger challenge is coming up for Spurs: whether they can stand that test of combining the Champions League, FA Cup and Premier League.

“I cannot remember Spurs challenging for the league in my time at United, so that is the change of fortunes under Harry. He’s playing very positively: 4-2-4 in some games.

“He’s certainly having a go. He’s got width. They have some exciting players like Bale, Modric, Van der Vaart and Lennon.

“But the best contribution has without doubt been Bale, who’s got 11 goals, a really good return for a wide player. Bale has tremendous speed and is a great crosser.”

Chalkboard v SpursFerguson has plenty of weapons at his disposal for the trip though, with Wayne Rooney ready to face the Londoners following a fortnight out with an ankle injury. The Scot must decide whether to deploy the Scouser as a lone front-man or retain Dimitar Berbatov for the trip to the Bulgarian’s former club.

Perhaps more radical – perhaps even probable – Ferguson could push Rooney to the left-wing slot the striker fulfilled at Birmingham City in December.

Captain Nemanja Vidic should make the trip after missing the FA Cup tie with Liverpool last weekend, while Edwin van der Sar will return in goal following an illness that kept the Dutchman on the sidelines for a fortnight.

However, it is potentially Rafael da Silva, United’s young Brazilian right-back, who might be key at the Lane, with Bale so dangerous this season. Ferguson admitted that United did bid for the Welshman four years ago, with no success. The Reds loss perhaps, but an even contest given the Rafael’s rapid progression.

“His form this season has been absolutely brilliant,” said Ferguson.

“He’s only 20, just a young boy. But he has learned. His concentration levels have improved. The thing about Rafael is that he’s not making any rash decisions.

“He was quite an impulsive young boy last season. The game against AC Milan away, for instance, he over-ran the ball in the middle of the pitch, they got their second goal and made a game of it. In the second leg against Bayern Munich he had a slight tug on the player and got sent off.

“You don’t expect young defenders to be consistent but he has been this season, really consistent.”

Meanwhile, Redknapp can boast an almost fully fit squad, with only Tom Huddlestone and Ledley Kind missing from the 63-year-old Londoner’s squad for United’s visit. He’ll need it, with Spurs having failed to beat the Reds in a decade.

Tottenham has failed to win any of the last 23 meetings with United in all competitions. Typical of the Londoners’ poor record against United – Spurs beat United 3-1 on the final day of the 2000/01 season; United had already wrapped up the title by more than 10 points.

However, there will be no David Beckham in Redknapp’s team despite Spurs’ attempt to sign the former United midfielder on loan. LA Galaxy and Tottenham have failed to agree terms for the loan and Beckham is likely to return to the US in March.

Opposition
Spurs – 4411 – Gomes; Hutton, Dawson, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Modric, Jenas, Bale; Van der Vaart; Defoe. Subs from: Pletikosa, Pavlyuchenko, Palacios, Bassong, Corluka, Keane, Kranjcar, Crouch, Giovani, Kaboul, Sandro.

United
United – 433 – van der Sar; Rafael da Silva, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Fletcher, Anderson, Giggs; Nani, Berbatov, Rooney. Subs from: Kuzszazk, Amos, Evans, Fabio da Silva, Brown, Smalling, Carrick, Gibson, Owen, Bébé, Obertan, Hernández, Obertan.

Officials
Referee: Mike Dean
Assistant referees: Stephen Child & Simon Long
Fourth official: Andre Marriner

Form
Spurs – DDWWWL
United – WWDWWW

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Comments

  1. herbie simms says

    Van der Vaart is the top performer in the premier division. No other player has made an impact in the league this season like Van der Vaart. His ability to play close to the striker has earned him nine goals. He is playing at a level that has all spectators in awe.
    Next, in a close second behind Van der Vaart is NANI. Skillful,flamboyant and ever so talented. Nani has scored six goals from a wide midfield position to go along with nine assists. He is a constant threat to defenders and can cross and shoot with both feet.
    The game with Tottenham will be thriller but United will come away 3-1 winners.

  2. bman says

    I feel certain that at least one of Scholes and Carrick will start, and perhaps Rooney up top instead of Berba. Hmmm.

  3. jay says

    To say it will be a no contest is ridiculous, at Old Trafford as soon as Vidic scored you defended almost all the second half, the Nani goal was something that cant be explained, the spurs fans will really get on his back and it will be interesting to see how he handles it.
    I agree with the previous comments all this talk about Bale is irrelavant as if we win it will be down to van der vaart he is soo dangerous and the best player I have seen down at the lane for years.
    Even you have to admit with the teams you have had down the years this one isnt as good and you dont really justify going a season unbeaten, it will come to an end and it just feels like this will be the game, you will be entertaining as ever and I can see a 3-2 spurs win

  4. says

    media think that we will get cunted in this. fergal has hit back in today’s papers sayin that those cunts who expect perfections shld fuck right off – reckons he is up to silence the critics

    if ever there was a game that rooney needed bum the fuck out of the opposition this is it – we will this, this will be an awesome message

    dont care if the ball bounces of raphaels cock, so long as we win

    think we will nick it 1-2

  5. Ashish says

    This is going to be an important test for the team.

    If we lose,then the rest of the teams will get a great incentive.

    If we draw,we’re still on course for the title even though I’d be disappointed.

    If we pass today’s test by getting all 3 points,I will be very happy with the lads and that puts us in pole position to win the league.

    If we pass today’s test with distinction by hammering Spurs…..absolutely no doubt we will win our 19th league title….there’s no way in hell we won’t win it this season.

  6. joe says

    WRONG! Spurs beat Utd when Pedro Mendes scored the winner, but as usual the ref wanted the Mancs to win and claimed he didnt see it!

  7. says

    Do you keep Carrick in reserve due to reported injury? If not, his non-selection is a strange one; He’s first on the team sheet for this no doubt…

  8. Bill says

    Will be interesting to see if United fight fire with fire and go 4-4-2. I would guess it would be 4-5-1 though with Berbatov on the bench. Rooney is yet to fire and Fergie could motivate him with a “big players in big games” talk pre-match. He has a lot to prove and this could be his stage.

    I’d go with a central midfield 3 of DF, OA, MC with RG and LN on the wingers. Rooney up top on his own. Back 5 picks itself.

  9. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    Man Utd
    01 Van der Sar
    03 Evra
    05 Ferdinand
    15 Vidic
    21 Rafael Da Silva
    11 Giggs
    16 Carrick
    17 Nani
    24 Fletcher
    09 Berbatov
    10 Rooney

  10. han says

    aye and i suppose the ref wanted united to win 2 seasons ago when the cocks were 2-0 up at h/t by giving a dodgy penalty to united…
    should really be up for this game this afternoon
    ken dodd has got them playing well and found a gem in fanny fart so all to play for
    come on reds

  11. says

    1529: Tottenham v Man United line-ups:
    Tottenham: Gomes, Hutton, Dawson, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Palacios, Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart, Crouch.
    Subs: Cudicini, Jenas, Pavlyuchenko, Defoe, Bassong, Kranjcar, Corluka.

    Man Utd: Van der Sar, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Fletcher, Giggs, Berbatov, Rooney.
    Subs: Kuszczak, Owen, Anderson, Smalling, Hernandez, Scholes, Evans.
    Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

    come on cunt!!

    loser pool neverton 2-2

  12. says

    han said:
    aye and i suppose the ref wanted united to win 2 seasons ago when the cocks were 2-0 up at h/t by giving a dodgy penalty to united…
    should really be up for this game this afternoon
    ken dodd has got them playing well and found a gem in fanny fart so all to play for
    come on reds

    yep Ando shit unless there is space to run so if we are the first to go up, then he is the man – this looks as if Taggart means business. if we are gonna get bummed, then better not to supply the Nivea and tissues.

    let’s cunt these imposters up big time

  13. Bill says

    Should be a good game, especially with United fighting fire with fire. Scholes could do some damage late off the bench, as can Hernandez.

  14. Sidsidney says

    The lads are fucking whinging a lot

    It tells me we’re in for a draw, or a loss and a moan at the ref afterwards

  15. han says

    if this game stays 0 – 0 and we have 11 players on each side at the end, i’ll be fanny fucked by a tranny – (no not u knobheadffs)

  16. says

    What exactly is the point of Ryan Giggs in this match. Absolutely useless he has been. We might as well get Chicharito on and send Rooney wide left.

    We have to get Rafa off and get Smalling in at Right-back cause I do not see the brazillian finishing this match. The idiots in the Spurs crowd are baying for blood anytime he goes into a challenge and I can see Dean caving in and sending him off. Fletcher is allowing Modric to dominate him while Carrick has again shown how flaky he really is. We need start getting the ball to Nani and let him get on with it. Trouble is that Assou-Ekotto is in fabulous form. Can’t say the same for Rooney though.

  17. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    han said:
    if this game stays 0 – 0 and we have 11 players on each side at the end, i’ll be fanny fucked by a tranny – (no not u knobheadffs)

    oh you mean captain

    MANCHESTER IS MY HEAVEN- SIR MATT BUSBY

  18. says

    To be honest am not sure why our manager decided to go for a shoot-out in this match. We are too open and with Carrick not being able to tackle anything and Fletcher headless – in the last 20 minutes at least – we seem to be there for the taking.

  19. sheesh says

    han said:
    fletcher and carrick both need to grow a pair of bollocks instead of sucking each others

    What will it take for Fergie to fuck these 2 cocksuckers off? The gulf in class between the Spurs midfield and ours is so obvious it’s fucking embarrassing.

    Get Anderson on FFS.

    Rooney has been utter shite. He’s been getting away with some utter shite performances of late. Laughable to think that some people thought he was getting back to his best.

    I’ll be amazed if we get anything out of this game. We should be well behind, regularly getting raped on our right hand side. Rafael will get sent off as well.

  20. han says

    cal i think ur wrong about taking rafa off
    smalling couldn’t handle bale at all and the cocks will see more crosses if rafa is subbed
    i reckon we need to send our ginger prince on so at least he can start spreading the ball a little
    fletcher and carrick have been wank so far

  21. Sidsidney says

    Calvino said:
    What exactly is the point of Ryan Giggs in this match. Absolutely useless he has been. We might as well get Chicharito on and send Rooney wide left.

    He’s the only player who tries things from central midfield

    Most of them don’t come off, and you fucking moan like usual, but if he didn’t try we’d be relying on Carrick & Fletcher to have some ideas, which is asking too much

  22. Ted says

    Thought i’d get fed up of saying it but Carrick is by far and away the worst regular midfielder we’ve ever had. I say again! what the fuck does he offer us that some cunt from Aldershot or fuckin huddersfield could’nt. He is fuckin rubbish. No bollocks, no pace, can’t tackle, can’t shoot, far too casual in posession. Fletcher is also struggling, he’s another on borrowed time. The game is too quick at the moment for Berbatov, i’d give him another 10 minutes then hook him. Rooney on his own is not enough to stretch their defence, we need to get Chicken Tikka on and get amongst’em.

    Giggs is not in it, looking his age today. Spurs look a bag ‘o; nerves at the back.

  23. han says

    fletcher and carrick have truly been exposed so far this season for the utter shite they serve up in a red shirt
    i am still hopeful they will turn their performances around this half but gone are the days when both were automatic first choice on any team sheet

  24. sheesh says

    han said:
    cal i think ur wrong about taking rafa off
    smalling couldn’t handle bale at all and the cocks will see more crosses if rafa is subbed
    i reckon we need to send our ginger prince on so at least he can start spreading the ball a little
    fletcher and carrick have been wank so far

    Rafael is on a yellow card. We will get hammered if we go down to 10 men.

  25. says

    Sid, you and the rest can live in the past all you like but from this game am watching Giggs has not been in it. No pace to get beyond Hutton any how, can’t catch Lennon going the other way too and yes the things he is trying are not coming off too. So how is that different from Carrick and Fletcher?? At least those two still have the energy to get about. And he is not playing in central midfield! He just drifts there and wastes balls as usual.

    Han, I see what you are saying but I really fear for Rafael. I really do. We can not beat this Spurs side with 10 men!

  26. Sidsidney says

    They’re gonna attack more now that we’re not as threatening on the break

    Fergie settling for a point, like we did from kick off really

  27. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    We won’t score…don’t want to I think.

    Spurs will get that one chance….an they’ll score it! We need more creativity!

  28. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    The problem is I remember the attacking teams of the 90′s….breathtaking at times…this drivel shite is minging!

  29. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Looks to me like Ferguson’s playing for a point now.

    That’s the way he always plays away from home!

  30. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Fuck it… I’ll take the point.

    We weren’t great going forward, but what a defensive performance.

    Vidic… What a monster… MotM.

  31. han says

    sweet pea was class in the 12 mins he had
    rooney unlucky not to get a goal
    defence was immense – cocks had most of the game in united’s half but vidic and rio were superb
    rafa unlucky with the 2nd yellow by all accounts but to go to north london and coming back with a point after the sending off is a good point

    • mongoletsi says

      Word. A good point all things considered. We’ve still got Dippers, Chelski, and Arse away. So essential not to drop away to another “big” team. I don’t get the Spurs knocking; Harry’s turned ‘em into genuine top 4 contenders.

      Again, an acceptable result.

  32. says

    Did not think Rafael will end the game and so it proved. At least Scholes did not come on to add to the burden that Giggs became!! Carrick grew a pair in the second half defensively.

    Rio and especially Vidic were immense afterall the aeriel bombardment from Spurs. Crouch is always a problem for a team as the tendency is always to look for him. Satisfied with a point although 10 years ago am sure Giggs would have made a much better fist of that last attack when we broke on them.

    We should never have started 4-4-2 anyway.

  33. sheesh says

    Rooney was fucking awful. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. Anyone thinks he has any right to ask questions of the ambitions of our club should have his head examined. £250,000 a week for another dogshit performance.

    If anyone offered us £40 million for that fat Scouse gobshite, I would snap their hand off.

    Another shite performance, roll on the next game.

  34. han says

    cal
    giggs is at least using his brain – i know he is slower than he was but he at least offers something which sadly to say, i really cant say the same for the rest of that midfield and nani was poor today as well

  35. sheesh says

    Fucking hell, you’d these wankers would be able to do simple things like keep hold of the ball, find a player in a red shirt with a simple pass instead of hoofing it anywhere.
    That was an absolute piss-take, a complete joke of a performance.
    I don’t know what it will take for Fergie to do something about this midfield.

  36. dozer says

    sheesh said:
    Rooney was fucking awful. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. Anyone thinks he has any right to ask questions of the ambitions of our club should have his head examined. £250,000 a week for another dogshit performance.

    If anyone offered us £40 million for that fat Scouse gobshite, I would snap their hand off.

    Another shite performance, roll on the next game.

    After that opinion you’ve put forward, you still want 40m for him?

  37. sheesh says

    dozer said:
    After that opinion you’ve put forward, you still want 40m for him?

    If City can shell out a fuckload for the likes of James Milner and Gareth Barry, I’m pretty sure they’d find £40 million for Rooney.

  38. bman says

    The most important things Spurs could do is get a decent striker. What a waste to have a useless lump like Crouch at the top of that midfield

  39. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    sheesh said:
    Fucking hell, you’d these wankers would be able to do simple things like keep hold of the ball, find a player in a red shirt with a simple pass instead of hoofing it anywhere.

    That was an absolute piss-take, a complete joke of a performance.

    I don’t know what it will take for Fergie to do something about this midfield.

    Spot on.
    We are dire to watch these days and that’s depressing me the most, Spurs are so much the better attacking team!

    Cal….BORING.

  40. han says

    the young giggs would have ripped the cocks apart
    shame nani was too busy fanny fingering today
    and collectively shorn of ideas
    need valencia back as soon as possible if we want to win this league because without him, united will be always missing the consistency

  41. Ted says

    Big mistake starting with Berbatov today (as i predicted earlier). It had to be Hernandez and Rooney. Berby was always going to struggle because thay are that much quicker than us all over the pitch, Hence why he never got a kick. Though i’m big fan of Rooney’s, i can’t make my mind up if he’s “slowly” getting back to his best, or he has actually lost a few yards. Vidic Wobbly gob and Rafeal played well today, the rest of ‘em never really turned up. The game passed Nani by again…(another worrying trend)
    and as for Fletch and Carrick words fail me……………..complete passengers again!!

    It was crying out for Scholes and Chicken Tikka after 20 minutes. Berby off Carrick off, instantly more craft, more attacking threat.
    I have’nt seen a United midfield so devoid of ideas and fight for a long long time.

    How the fuck we are not getting punished to the max on a regular basis god only knows.
    Surely someone us going to shoe us for 5 or 6 very soon.

    Poor today, not helped by poor/wrong team selection, and 60 minutes too slow to react to it.

  42. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    Ted said:
    Big mistake starting with Berbatov today (as i predicted earlier). It had to be Hernandez and Rooney. Berby was always going to struggle because thay are that much quicker than us all over the pitch, Hence why he never got a kick. Though i’m big fan of Rooney’s, i can’t make my mind up if he’s “slowly” getting back to his best, or he has actually lost a few yards. Vidic Wobbly gob and Rafeal played well today, the rest of ‘em never really turned up. The game passed Nani by again…(another worrying trend)
    and as for Fletch and Carrick words fail me……………..complete passengers again!!

    It was crying out for Scholes and Chicken Tikka after 20 minutes. Berby off Carrick off, instantly more craft, more attacking threat.
    I have’nt seen a United midfield so devoid of ideas and fight for a long long time.

    How the fuck we are not getting punished to the max on a regular basis god only knows.
    Surely someone us going to shoe us for 5 or 6 very soon.

    Poor today, not helped by poor/wrong team selection, and 60 minutes too slow to react to it.

    Spot on Theodore!

  43. says

    sheesh said:
    Fucking hell, you’d these wankers would be able to do simple things like keep hold of the ball, find a player in a red shirt with a simple pass instead of hoofing it anywhere.

    That was an absolute piss-take, a complete joke of a performance.

    I don’t know what it will take for Fergie to do something about this midfield.

    spot on – and the same about White Pele, what a crock of manky cunt

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