With a loss against newly-promoted Huddersfield last weekend, Manchester United will be looking to regain their early season form. But—currently sitting directly below United in the league—third-placed Tottenham Hotspur are nipping at the Red Devils’ heels. A win for Spurs at Old Trafford would see them leap frog United into second place. The current statistics, however, point towards a pretty even game this Saturday. The sides go into Saturday’s game with identical records: 20 points from 6 wins, 2 draws and 1 league loss this season. Furthermore, in the sides’ 11 meetings since March 2012, each won 4, lost 4 and drew 3. There has only been one goalless draw within those fixtures, and, with United and Spurs home to the number 2 and 1 top goal scorers in the league respectively, fans should be in for an exciting game.
Mourinho’s tactics against ‘The Big 5’
Before their Premier League game against Liverpool, on 14th October, many argued Mourinho’s men had yet to face their first test. We got a glimpse then at how United might fare against ‘The Big 5’ (Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester City) when they faced the Reds at Anfield, and it certainly wasn’t anything for United fans (nor the neutrals for that matter) to cheer about. In true Mourinho style, his tactics disregarded United’s historic attacking philosophy and instead the side seemed happy to let Liverpool play whilst they sat back. It was clear that Mourinho was looking for a draw and—as a consequence—his men looked boring and lacklustre. Not the Manchester United that fans had been used to seeing earlier on this season. To make matters worse, Spurs managed a 4-1 win when they faced Liverpool at home last Sunday.
On a positive note for United fans Mourinho’s men will be the home team this Saturday and so fans will be expecting a more exciting, attacking style of play. The Red Devils will look to dominate possession and test Hugo Lloris, who has currently made the second least amount of saves in the league. Spurs have the highest number of crosses (216) and most number of corners taken (67) in the league and United will need to prepare for that and prevent the likes of Dele Alli and Harry Kane from winning aerial duels in the box.
United vs. Kane
And if there is one man who United’s defence will certainly be preparing to stop this Saturday it is Harry Kane.
Pep Guardiola recently described Spurs as the ‘Harry Kane team’ which—although it caused some demurral from Pochettino—might be somewhat accurate. With the absence of Kane in the starting 11 and from the bench on Wednesday, Spurs failed to beat West Ham. That loss eliminated them from the Carabao Cup. Kane, however, is yet to miss a Premier League appearance so far this season and the statistics show that he really is Spurs’ key man.
The man who Real Madrid are reportedly after is currently the Premier League’s top goal scorer (8). As well as that, he has had the most shots at goal out of every player in the league (57), has hit the woodwork the most (5), and has the highest amount of man of the match awards (4). Another stat that doesn’t bode well for the Red Devils this weekend is that Kane has scored three times as often away as at home (6:2). On the other hand, David De Gea has been in fine form this season, producing saves that have kept United in games, and it’s no surprise that he’s kept the highest number of clean sheets in the league (7).
Will United be able to tame Kane at Old Trafford or will they suffer a Kaning?
Tottenham Hotspur starting XI: Lloris; Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Sanchez; Davies, Aurier, Winks, Dier; Eriksen, Alli; Kane.
Score: Tottenham Hotspur to win 2-1