OPPONENTS Manchester United at Old Trafford
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Wednesday 4th December 2019
PREVIEW Two sides meet at Old Trafford with a lot of similarities between them.

A shared manager; both sides not playing to their maximum and both having fallen from their recent heights. So, who will come out on top ?

It’s a tough one to answer, as Spurs have been good going forward, with a late shakiness at the back allowing teams to get close, while United have not been firing on all cylinders, leaving them struggling for wins. Losing recently to Bournemouth and Astana, while drawing with Villa and Sheffield United, the pressure builds on their manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with every one that doesn’t bring three points. For that reason, he will not need to gee his players up for the visit of Tottenham.

It’s not that the talent isn’t there, just the organisation and application. The absence of Paul Pogba has been a miss, but they have the likes of Rashford, Mata, Martial, Lingard, Maguire, Wan Bissaka and Phil Jones.  Added to that Fred, Daniel James and Lindelof all cost big money.  Oh, and there is still Ashley Young.  The issue is about how they are playing together and there is something not falling into place.  That is unlikely to be James, who seems to fall at every given opportunity and Young will join him as his aging bones hit the turf time after time.  With Solskjaer keen on adding some youth into the team to inject some desire, Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams have been put in the limelight lately.

It is hard to see how Mourinho got a tune out of this bunch of players.  Winning two trophies and finishing second rank among his best achievements in the game.  It is now his job to do the same with a more desirable squad at Spurs.  It is unlikely that Christina Eriksen will be at the club to see this, so how Jose approaches his situation will be intriguing.  With a couple of weeks already gone by in which he hasn't changed much, will this game see him revert to type to ensure he doesn't lose face and lose the game at Old Trafford ?

I can't see it, as Spurs took the game to United last season and came out on top ... a result which almost done for Jose at Man U.  He will have dissected how Spurs took United apart that night.  He will have spotted the strengths of Tottenham and the vulnerabilities of United, so it could be a tactical master class.

Personally, I think that United will put up more of a performance than they have of late and a draw will be the outcome I reckon.

PREDICTION Manchester United    2        Tottenham Hotspur    2
Spurs are without long-term injured Hugo Lloris (elbow), Erik Lamela (hamstring), Michel Vorm (calf) and Ben Davies (ankle) for the trip to Old Trafford.

Paul Pogba's ankle injury rules him out, but Scott McTominay has overcome his ankle injury to be fit to play.  Nemanja Matic hopes to be fit for the game on Wednesday


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Premier League Kick off  19:30
Manchester United  2 (1)  
Tottenham Hotspur  1 (1)

Rashford  05m 58s
Rashford  (p)  48m 22s


Dele  38m 17s

Crowd :   73,252 Weather :  Mild, drizzly
Referee : Paul Tierney (Wigan) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Constantine Hatzidakis; Mr. Harry Lennard
Fourth Official :  Stuart Attwell  
Video Assistant Referee :  Michael Oliver Video Assistant Referee Assistant :  Stuart Burt
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Stretford end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 7 minutes.


Winks (foul on James) 13   


Manchester United : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  David de GEA

  2  Victor LINDELHOF
18  Ashley YOUNG  (c)

39  Scott McTOMINAY
17  FRED

21  Daniel JAMES
14  Jesse LINGARD  (23  Luke SHAW  87)

10  Marcus RASHFORD    (p)

Unused subs: 
22  Sergio ROMERO
35  Brandon WILLIAMS
  Andrea PEREIRA
  8  Juan MATA
37  James GARNER

  22  Paulo GAZZANIGA

24  Serge AURIER
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ

17  Moussa SISSOKO  (18  Giovani LO CELSO  85)
  8  Harry WINKS       (28  Tanguy NDOMBELE  70)

  7  Heung-Min SON
20  DELE Alli 
27  Lucas MOURA  (23  Christian ERIKSEN  64)

10  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
  Brandon AUSTIN
1  Juan FOYTH
  3  Danny ROSE

Manager :  Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manager :  Jose Mourinho
Sponsor :   Chevrolet Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  adidas Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

Jose Mourinho's much feted return to Old Trafford ended in a 1-2 defeat, with a pale display by Tottenham that lacked the attcking vigour of their last few matches.

Spurs fans were in good voice and out-sang the prawn sandwich brigade, but the first few minutes were nothing to shout about really. Then, out of the blue, Spurs conceded when Sanchez challenged Lingard, but Rashford picked the ball up behind him. Without a defender near him, he had a free run into the box and struck a low effort at Gazzaniga’s near post and although the Spurs keeper got a hand to it, the ball beat him into the net to give United a very early lead. Aurier might have been at fault for not tracking his man.

Tottenham had failed to hold onto the ball and there looked a sluggishness about their play. That was until the 11th minute, when Kane got a toe to the ball 25 yards just ahead of Fred and Harry stepped up to take the free-kick. Unfortunately, it went a yard too high.  Winksy got booked when United played the ball to their right for Daniel James. Harry slid in and took out the winger but knocked him into Jose Mourinho’s leg at the same time. James needed treatment; Jose didn’t. It was all about free-kicks, as United got one for Sissoko catching Fred above the knee, but VAR didn’t deem it a red card.  Rashford took it and although the ball dipped, Gazzaniga had it covered to his right and the ball went a yard wide anyway.

When James pulled a low ball back from the United right wing, it fell for Lingard and he set it up for Mason Greenwood to try a low shot and Gazzaniga reacted well to block it with his right leg and the ball went off for a corner. Rashford got closer in the 25th minute, when the England striker hit a dipping shot that cannoned off the crossbar and out. The video replays showed that Paulo did get a slight touch to the ball to put it onto the woodwork.  Tottenham could just not get anything going and it was starting to look like visits to Old Trafford of old. Even more so when Rashford bent a shot from inside the area around Aurier and Gazzaniga had to dive to push the ball aside to his left. Lingard fired a shot wide from about the same place, with Paulo beaten and this side’s performance looked nothing like the previous three. United were quickly getting everyone back behind the ball when Spurs were in possession, so it was hard for Spurs to string anything together. It was half an hour before they put together a passage of possession in the last third, but it came to nothing.

Son showed great footwork in the left of the box to get into a position to shoot inside the six yard area but had to turn away. The ball was played to Vertonghen, whose cross looked for Kane in the middle, but was too high and Aurier came in at the far post to volley low to the near post and de Gea had to keep it out with his leg. The ball went up into the air and as it spun wildly, Dele was underneath it to take a touch over his head and over Fred and Young. As the ball dropped, he swept the ball past the keeper to equalise. It was an exquisite piece of skill and when VAR insisted in reviewing it time and time again to try and rule it out for a handball, it looked as though it might have all been in vain. But they rightly viewed it as hitting his shoulder and a goal it was … eventually.

Gazzaniga had to be quick off his line to deny Rashford reaching a through ball and the United man came off worse, but he was back to his feet when Sissoko gave the ball away and he looked to break, only for Moussa to tackle him and give away a corner.

A minute and a bit into the second half, Rashford nut-megged Aurier, took on Sissoko and Moussa made contact with him to see a penalty awarded. Rashford got up to take it after the VAR review and struck it to Gazzaniga’s left as the keeper went the wrong way. 2-1 to United.

With 50 minutes on the clock, Lucas robbed Young and crossed to Son, who took it down and across  the box, as he looked for a shooting opportunity but when he did, Fred got in the way. Spurs played some nice first-time passing to give Kane a shot that took a deflection for a corner, although it didn’t get past the near post. Tottenham were looking for the long early pass, but they could not find their intended targets. Harry Kane was coming short for the ball, but it left the attack short of a player up front.

Gazzaniga made a straightforward save from James, who shot head high from 18 yards and at the other end Serge put in two crosses that troubled the United defence, but there wasn’t a white shirt on the end of them. Eriksen was brought on by Mourinho in the place of Moura, looking to hold and pass the ball better. Winks got an ankle injury when he fouled Fred and then when he was back on the pitch, he gave the ball away which was moved to  James. The Welshman struck a shot to Gazzaniga’s left, but the Argentinian dived to push it wide. From the corner, Spurs broke and Sissoko skewed a cross-field ball that ended up with de Gea, when Spurs could have worked the United defence harder. United were able to play out of defence too easily and this built pressure in the Tottenham half, seeing the ball given away cheaply. Getting frustrated by United’s time-wasting, at the centre of which was McTominay and Lingard, the home team were trying to run down time from about the 70th minute. Twice Tottenham had break-aways but the ball ended up with Aurier, whose shot and then a cross ended up in de Gea’s arms. While Christian Eriksen picked out Aurier with a good ball, often his passes were into areas where Spurs players weren’t.

Ndomebele tried a 25-yarder, but it lacked the power to beat de Gea, who saved low to his left. The home crowd started to make some noise with added time left and the corner gave United the chance to break, but they strayed offside. Then Rashford was on his own in the box, but was blocked out as he looked for his hat-trick, then Dele chested down Alderweireld’s ball in at the other end and then dug hi shot into the ground, taking the pace off it for de Gea to make a routine save.

It was fairly obvious that United were going to up their game against Spurs tonight, but it was really only one man in their side that made a difference. Without Rashford, the Manchester side would not have got the result. For Spurs, it looked like a performance from a month or so ago. Slower than it has  been and finding it hard to get through the mass of red shirts that blocked their way. We are still giving the ball away too often and too cheaply, making it hard to build anything like the sort of possession we need.

Burnley will come to stifle Tottenham's game on Saturday and we will have to find ways to break them down.  It means a few days hard work on the training pitches ahead of that game and it requires a tightening of the defence to stop letting in two goals a game.

Burton Bradstock

Match facts


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How the players did
Paulo Gazzaniga Questionable positioning for the first goal, but redeemed himself with some very good saves in the first half and one in the second.
Serge Aurier A mixed bag.  Good going forward, putting in some good crosses and some too near the keeper.  Did some good things and some bad in defence, including letting Rashford get free for the first goal.
Toby Alderweireld Solid game and tried to play the longer balls to the forwards, but it didn't come off tonight.
Jan Vertonghen Another good game against a potentially damaging opponent in James.  Kept him pretty quiet.
Davinson Sanchez Always looks a bit nervy with his legs and arms everywhere, but did OK.  distribution needs to improve.
Harry Winks Wasn't able to move the team forward as much as usual and got a bit frustrated. Picked up an ankle injury ,so hope it's not too bad.
Moussa Sissoko Strong in taking the ball forward, but final pass needs sharpening up.  Tripped Rashford for the penalty, but didn't look like a lot of contact.
Lucas Moura Didn't really get into the game or have a chance to run at the United defence.  Closed down quickly when he got the ball.
Dele Alli Another memorable goal getting Spurs back into the match against the run of play.  Worked hard and when he had the chance, he looked to put people in.
Heung-Min Son Looked on fringe of game a lot of the time, as he was stuck out left.  Showed good footwork in the box before we scored.
Harry Kane On the periphery and coming deep to get the ball.  Hardly had a goal-scoring chance.
Christian Eriksen Called off the bench to try to retrieve something from the match.  Couldn't produce the killer pass to get an equaliser.
Tanguy Ndombele Caught on the ball once, when his languid style looks like he is cumbersome, but he knows what he is doing.  Needs time to adjust to the Prem.
Giovani Lo Celso Late sub brought on to try and create something.  Little opportunity to do so.
Brandon Austin Unused.
Juan Foyth Unused.
Danny Rose Unused.
Eric Dier Unused.



What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Burnley 1 Manchester City 4 Tuesday
Crystal Palace 1 Bournemouth 0 Tuesday
Chelsea 2 Aston Villa 1 Wednesday
Leicester City 2 Watford 0 Wednesday
Liverpool 5 Everton 2 Wednesday
Southampton 2 Norwich City 1 Wednesday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 West Ham United London 0 Wednesday
Arsenal 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Thursday
Sheffield United 0 Newcastle United 2 Thursday



League Table  2019-20
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 15 14 1 0 37 14 43 +23
2 Leicester City 15 11 2 2 36 9 35 +27
3 Manchester City 15 10 2 3 43 17 32 +26
4 Frank Lampard's Chelsea 15 9 2 5 30 21 29 +9
5 Wolverhampton Wanderers 15 5 8 2 21 17 23 +4
6 Manchester United 15 5 6 4 20 17 21 +3
7 Crystal Palace 15 6 3 6 14 18 21 -4
8 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 15 5 5 5 25 23 20 +2
9 Sheffield United 15 4 7 4 17 15 19 +2
10 Newcastle United 15 5 4 6 15 22 19 -7
11 Woolwich Wanderers 15 4 7 4 21 23 18 -1
12 Burnley 15 5 3 7 21 24 18 -3
13 Brighton & Hove Albion 15 5 3 7 18 22 18 -4
14 Bournemouth 15 4 4 7 18 21 16 -3
15 West Ham United London 15 4 4 7 20 26 16 -6
16 Southampton 15 4 3 8 17 33 15 -16
17 Aston Villa 15 4 3 8 20 22 14 -2
18 Everton 15 4 2 9 16 27 14 -11
19 Norwich City 15 3 2 10 16 32 11 -16
20 Watford 15 1 5 9 9 30 8 -21

Position before match :  6th
Position after match :  8th
Position after the midweek games :  8th

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