The FourFourTwo Preview: Tottenham vs Man United
A chance for one of Moyes or AVB to get the media off their backs for a week.
Could this be Andre Villas-Boas' final game in charge of Spurs?
If you believe reports elsewhere, possibly. It would be a wildly irrational move to allow a manager to spend more than £100 million rebuilding a squad in his image only to sack him within 13 league games. But this is football, and we all know she dances to the beat of her own drum.
- Tromso 0-2 Tottenham (EL)
- Man City 6-0 Tottenham (Prem)
- Tottenham 0-1 Newcastle (Prem)
- Tottenham 2-1 Sheriff (EL)
- Everton 0-0 Tottenham (Prem)
MAN UNITED FORM
- Leverkusen 0-5 Man Utd (CL)
- Cardiff 2-2 Man Utd (Prem)
- Man Utd 1-0 Arsenal (Prem)
- Sociedad 0-0 Man Utd (CL)
- Fulham 1-3 Man Utd (Prem)
A 6-0 thumping at Manchester City last weekend was 'extremely embarrassing' as The Gruff-Voiced One himself put it post-match, but even allowing for that avalanche of Etihad goals Spurs still have one of the league's best defensive records - only Southampton, Arsenal and Chelsea are tighter at the back. Spurs' real problems are in attack, where nine goals in 12 games has seen striker Roberto Soldado come under increased scrutiny.
For the champions, more late goal heartache (aren't Manchester United supposed to be the masters of scoring late goals?!) cost them another two points at Cardiff. While few will argue that Moyes' deserved all three points, a growing inability to hang onto winning scorelines will concern those of a red persuasion.
United's 5-0 Champions League win at Bayer Leverkusen was a huge tonic for Moyes, and after taking only one point from their meetings with Tottenham last season, the Red Devils go looking for a result that would push them closer to the top four and Spurs a step nearer to those back page 'crisis' headlines.
Nemanja Vidic (concussion) and Robin van Persie (groin) are injury doubts for Moyes' boys, while Michael Carrick will miss out.
One of Marouane Fellaini or Tom Cleverley is therefore likely to return to the side in place of Ryan Giggs, whose 40-year-old legs will struggle to play in two high intensity away games inside a week. Neither Fellaini nor Cleverley covered themselves in glory during last Sunday's draw in Cardiff, so the manager has a decision to make.
Spurs are without Danny Rose (foot), Harry Kane (back) and Christian Eriksen (ankle), but having rested Paulinho, Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker, Sandro, Aaron Lennon, Younes Kaboul and Jermain Defoe for the Europa League game at Tromso, the majority of those players should feature.
Key battle: Andros Townsend vs Patrice Evra
Evra was taken off with 20 minutes to go in Germany, presumably to keep him fresh for White Hart Lane. Given the way Moyes likes to set his team up with strong emphasis on width, Evra is of huge importance to United.
The Frenchman will have to be diligent in his defensive duties against a livewire in Townsend, but the England international will have his own concerns. Evra is the most fundamental player to United's attack this season after Wayne Rooney, with 1.5 key passes per game - more than Phillippe Coutinho, Oscar and Leighton Baines.
Townsend, meanwhile, was left out of the 6-0 drubbing at City and may be recalled here. After Luis Suarez, no-one has had more shots per game in the Premier League than Spurs' 22-year-old wing sensation, but only one goal from 45 shots (a misplaced cross at that) is a poor return, and one that needs improving.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Spurs 1-1 Man Utd (Prem, Jan 13)
- Man Utd 2-3 Spurs (Prem, Sep 12)
- Spurs 1-3 Man Utd (Prem, Mar 12)
- Man Utd 3-0 Spurs (Prem, Aug 11)
- Spurs 0-0 Man Utd (Prem, Jan 11)
Late goals are often the order of the day when Moyes meets AVB. Last season, Everton scored two last-gasp goals to beat Spurs 2-1 at Goodison Park before Gylfi Sigurdsson returned the favour in the 88th minute of a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane. The season before, AVB's Chelsea knocked Moyes' Everton out of the League Cup with a late goal. In five meetings they have two wins each and one draw.
Facts and figures
- Ryan Giggs has scored more Premier League goals against Tottenham than he has against any other opponent (10).
More facts at FFT's Tottenham vs Man United Stats Zone page
Tips and trends
- Spurs suffered their worst defeat since 1996 last weekend as they got stuffed 6-0 by City.
- Spurs have won just 2 of their last 7 home games against top-six sides, with both sides scoring in each of those matches.
- Since the start of last season Man United have lost just 4 of their 19 trips to top-half teams since 2011/12 – winning 9 times.
- Ten of United’s last 14 trips to top-half teams have provided at least 3 goals.
- United haven’t lost in any of their last 13 trips to White Hart Lane.
Find the best odds with Bet Butler
This one has late goal written all over it, but which way is anyone's guess. 1-1.