Manchester United v Tottenham: Van Gaal ready for top-four 'rat race'

Two rivals for the UEFA Champions League places meet when Manchester United host Tottenham as the race for the top four intensifies.

Louis van Gaal has urged his Manchester United side to take their positive reaction to FA Cup defeat into the "rat race" for the Premier League's top four - starting against fellow UEFA Champions League hopefuls Tottenham.

United's last hope of silverware this season went up in smoke on Monday as Danny Welbeck returned to haunt his former employers with the winning goal in a 2-1 triumph that sent holders Arsenal into the FA Cup semi-finals.

That was only United's second defeat in their past 11 matches in all competitions and followed back-to-back league victories over Sunderland and Newcastle United.

Rather than be downbeat about United's chances of clinching a top-four berth, manager Van Gaal has seen a good reaction in training.

But the Dutchman is aware of the need to maintain momentum in the league with just five points separating third-placed Arsenal and Southampton in seventh.

"I have the same confidence [of reaching the top four] as before," he said. 

"I'm very pleased with the reaction and I hope we can show that against Spurs - the first of 10 matches in the rat race."

United must once more make do without striker Robin van Persie (ankle), although Marcos Rojo (knock) should be fit to play.

If Rojo is unavailable it will leave Van Gaal short at the back as fellow defender Jonny Evans starts the first game of his six-match ban for spitting at Newcastle's Papiss Cisse. Angel di Maria is also suspended after being sent off against Arsenal.

Tottenham travel to Manchester seeking a third-consecutive victory over United at Old Trafford, which would move them level on points with Van Gaal's men.

Before those successes Spurs had not triumphed at Old Trafford since 1989 and head coach Mauricio Pochettino insists his team have the right mentality to return to London with the points.

"We believe we can win," he said. "You never think before a game that it is possible to lose. 

"You are always focusing on getting the three points and are never thinking about losing.

"Our pressure is inside us, in the group. We want to win every game.

"Maybe Manchester United has history, but our mentality is to compete and try to win the game. Man United is not my problem."

Pochettino, whose team have won back-to-back matches since losing the League Cup final to London rivals Chelsea, has no new reported injuries to contend with.