OPPONENTS Manchester United
COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Saturday 8th August 2015
VENUE Old Trafford






With most clubs wanting a flying start to the season, Spurs have been handed a trip to a venue where they have not historically had a great record, but they have won there twice in the last three years.

Manchester United have spent a huge amount of money in trying to exert some pressure on Chelsea and Manchester City, with the promise of more to come.  Their big money signings Schneiderlin, Darmian and Depay will start to make their competitive debuts, but Schweinsteiger is not fit, with Marcos Rojo also missing.  Somewhat more modestly, Tottenham will hand a debut to Toby Alderweireld and Dele Alli and Kevin Wimmer could be on the bench, with other new boy Kieran Trippier.

The onus will be on United to come out at Tottenham, which could leave them suspect to the counter-attack, but Spurs must move the ball quicker than last season and make more of the possession they might have, as they did against AC Milan in the recent Audi Cup, but didn't against Real Madrid.

Mauricio Pochettino might have to display that he has the tactical nous to out-wit an old fox like van Gaal, as last season, the use of Fellaini on Kyle Walker was the decisive duel in the match, leaving Spurs struggling after going behind to two quick goals.  With more defensive additions, the aim will be to try and keep United at bay for as long as possible, but the fact that we still only have one true first choice striker (with Adebayor out of favour, Soldado being touted around Europe and Shaquile Coulthirst not even taken to Germany), the only other option would be Josh Onomah in what would be his first taste of Premier League action.  A more likely option would be to push Chadli up alongside Kane if the need arises.

With United losing Rafael and Angel di Maria, there are changes, but the gaps have been filled by incoming players and there is money from Paris St. Germain that may allow them to buy again, with Barcelona's Pedro a rumoured target, as well as the unrealistic bids for Harry Kane.

The lack of firepower cost Spurs at Old Trafford last season and without any back-up for Harry, I think United may just edge it although a good, resilient defensive display might earn a point.

PREDICTION Manchester United    2         Tottenham Hotspur    1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Ryan Mason, Hugo Lloris, Andros Townsend and Roberto Soldado all face late consideration for the game at Old Trafford.  Alex Pritchard is still out with the ankle injury picked up playing for England Under-21s in the summer.
Goalkeeper David de Gea is set to be left out and United could include new signing Sergio Romero, Anders Lindegaard or 18 year old Sam Johnstone between the sticks. Sebastian Schweinsteiger and Marcos Rojo are not fit to feature and Marouane Fellaini is suspended for the match.

BT Sport 1 - (live coverage)
Sky Sports 1 -  Game of the Day -  Saturday 20.20
Match of the Day  (BBC 1) - Saturday 22.20 (highlights)   [repeated at 07:40 Sunday]  Also available online.
Goals on Sunday (Sky Sports 1) - Sunday 10.30 (repeated at 21.00)
Match of the Day 2  (BBC 1) - Sunday 22.30 (highlights)  Also available online.

For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152  (live coverage)
Commentary may be found on
>   BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW
TalkSport (DAB or 1089 MW)
Absolute Radio  (1215 AM/MW)

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne)
SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney) 
Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
South Africa 
SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean) 
Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London - click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.

Manchester United  1 (1)                                                                      Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)
Premier League
Saturday 8th August 2015                                                                                                                 Kick off 12:45
Old Trafford
Walker (o.g.) 21m 42s
Schweinsteiger (foul on Chadli)  69m
Mata (foul on Mason)  90m  


Vertonghen (foul on Mata)  27m
Dier (foul on Young)  76m
Alli (foul on Young)  91m  


Crowd :   75,261 Weather :  Sunny, warm
Referee :  Jon Moss (Leeds) Assistant Referees :  Mr. J. Brooks; Mr. E. Smart
Fourth Official :  Andre Marriner -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Stretford end in the first half.
Game time : -  90+6 minutes.
Manchester United : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
20  Sergio ROMERO

36  Matteo DARMIAN  (25  Antonio VALENCIA  81)
17  Daley BLIND
23  Luke SHAW

16  Michael CARRICK  (31  Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER 60     )
8  Juan MATA     
18  Ashley YOUNG

10  Wayne ROONEY  (c)
  7  Memphis DEPAY

Unused subs: 
33  Paddy McNAIR
44  Andreas PEREIRA
14  Javier HERNANDEZ

  13  Michel VORM

  2  Kyle WALKER  (o.g.)
  5  Jan VERTONGHEN  (c)     
33  Ben DAVIES

15  Eric DIER       (20  Dele ALLI  77     )
  6  Nabil BENTALEB  (  8  Ryan MASON  53)

19  Mousa DEMBELE  (11  Erik LAMELA  68)
23  Christian ERIKSEN
22  Nacer CHADLI

10  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
  1  Hugo LLORIS

27  Kevin WIMMER

Manager :  Louis van Gaal Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   Chevrolet Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  adidas Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

Entering a new season full of hope is often a situation Spurs fans should treat with extreme caution.  However, entering a new season with just one striker means that all hope is not lost, but is temporarily shelved until the end of the transfer window.  So a 0-1 loss at Old Trafford might not have been unexpected, but there was a mixture of good and bad, but still a little hope to see us through to the end of May.

The sun unusually shone down on a perfect looking pitch in Manchester and Tottenham had Michel Vorm in goal, with Hugo Lloris not sufficiently recovered from his wrist injury, whole there was a debut start for Toby Alderweireld in defence, while Eric Dier shifted into the defensive midfield unit with Nabil Bentaleb.  There was no Danny Rose, so Ben Davies came in for him, while in front of him Eriksen, Chadli and Dembele formed the attacking midfield behind Kane as the lone striker.  It wasn't the worst defeat in the world, but with a bit more guile, Spurs could easily have left Lancashire with a point.

The problem is our one which keeps cropping up.  We have lots of the ball, control the game, but fail to make the breakthrough.  Then the oppo get a goal and the game changes, where we are then chasing it, but the impetus has switched to the other side, who then turn the tables on us.  The first part was true up until United scored, then they closed Spurs down higher up the pitch and we found it difficult to get the ball moving forward as we had in the first twenty minutes.

In that time, Tottenham created a good chance inside five minutes, when Kane was fed the ball in a central position 25 yards out, but with men in front of him, used his ability to lift the ball with a scooped pass into the run of Christian Eriksen.  The Dane took the ball on his head and as it dropped he tried to lob it on the volley over the advancing debutant goalkeeper Sergio Romero.  Unfortunately, his attempt was a couple of feet too high and the ball landed on the roof of the net instead of in it.

Spurs were pressing the United defenders and midfielders on the ball and winning possession, with Kane being put in by Chadli, but his touch allowed Smalling to get a block in and the ball went for a corner.  Alderweireld nodded the ball down from the edge of the box, but there was only a red shirt there to hammer it away.  Spurs were using the big diagonal ball to try to get in behind the United full backs, much as the home team had done last season.  Although this did not always find success, they did manage to play in Kyle Walker in the box, as Shaw slept and as he burst on at an angle, Romero came out to block the shot at goal by the Spurs right back.

When Tottenham won the ball in midfield, they were getting up to support Harry Kane, as Dembele took the bal off Schneiderlin and knocked it to Kane before running on to get the return pass, but the linesman (perhaps harshly) flagged him offside.  For all the good work winning the ball, Spurs did have a bad habit of giving it back cheaply.  Unfortunately, one of the main culprits, unusually, was Nabil Bentaleb, who passed straight to a United player in midfield and before you knew it we were a goal down.  Mata played it wide right to Ashley Young, who had switched wings.  He played a low cross to the penalty spot, where Rooney was free in front of goal.  Vorm came out to meet him, but Walker raced back to challenge, Rooney lost control and the ball hit Kyle's standing foot and trickled past the prone Vorm, going slowly into the bottom right corner of his net.

It was a blow after looking the better side for the best part of the 21 minutes until the goal.  From that point, things changed.  United started swarming over Tottenham when they had possession and were either winning the ball or preventing Spurs from finding space to play an out ball resulting in long balls punted forward, which United tended to win too.  Young moved back to the left and Toby had to clear his low cross into the area, Vertonghen dived in on Mata to get the first yellow card of the Premier League season, but the Spaniard could only hit the wall from 22 yards out.  Spurs were luckier when the same player had two bites of the cherry when Dier passed the ball to Depay, who sent Mata in from the right and although his first shot was blocked, the ball sat nicely for him to connect with the rebound.  The connection was not good though and he dug his shot into the ground and it bobbled a yard wide.  It looked like it could be a long afternoon at this point.

Depay was looking a handful at this point, but nothing came from his work.  He had one shot blocked by Toby and then a cross into the box knocked away by Jan, as the Belgians stood firm in the middle of our defence.  Then, just before half-time, Spurs found their pressing mojo again.  Kane closed down the new United keeper, who could only find touch and anyone watching will realise that he is not that confident with the ball at his feet.  Spurs won a free-kick just before the break on the right wing and Eriksen put it into the box, but it cleared most players and dropped at the far post for Toby to hit a shot at goal.  It wasn't the hardest shot and Romero got behind it to hold it chest high.  At least we were giving him something to do.

Anyway, the players trooped off with United not having had a shot on target, yet going in 1-0 ahead.  The Tottenham contingent had been noisy throughout, with the United fans only excited by the goal and generally sitting quietly, expecting their team to win without their help.  Spurs needed to hold the ball better and move into space to create openings, but there seemed a tiredness about their game when they conceded.  Whether that was a result of the games in the Audi Cup or what, I don't know, but things had to change.

The same 11 started the second half and they looked a bit sharper, winning the ball in midfield, but the first effort of the half was a Depay shot that flew over from distance.  Spurs did put together a good move when Eriksen put Chadli into the box on the right hand side and he tried a back-heel to pick out Walker who was coming in behind him, but it fell behind Kyle and the ball was hacked away.  Bentaleb then made way for Mason, no doubt a result of his loose passing and to add some more energy to the defensive midfield pairing.  United were getting some soft decisions, while Schneiderlin was producing a string of niggly fouls without punishment.

When a free-kick was awarded to Spurs for a raised foot on Eriksen by Danny Blind, the Dane swung it in from the right, 30 yards out and Dier was close to getting a head on it, with Romero having come out behind him to claim the ball.  If he had got something on it, there was nothing between Eric and the goal.  van Gaal tried to change things, with the tide turning against United, by bringing on Schweinsteiger for Carrick to retain possession better and it worked for a little while, as they strung passes together across the middle third of the pitch.

Michel Vorm was finally forced into a save in the 65th minute, when Rooney crossed from the right wing and the ball dropped to Young at the far post.  He cut inside Dembele and hit a low shot through a crowd of legs, which Vorm got down to quickly and grabbed at the second attempt on his goal-line.  When Tottenham got forward, they almost replicated United's goal, but Dembele's low ball in from the right was grabbed on the floor by Romero, with Chadli waiting behind him.  It was Dembele's last action before he was replaced by Lamela and Chadli was the victim of a cynical foul on halfway by Schweinsteiger, which earned the German a yellow card.   Rooney almost produced an action replay of his acrobatic overhead kick against City a few years ago, as he threw himself upwards to meet Darmian's cross, but he failed to make a decent contact and the ball flew out wide.  Ashley Young was up to his old tricks in simulating and Eric Dier was not impressed when he got a yellow card for hardly touching the "flying" winger.  He let Young know about it in no uncertain terms too !!

Dier was replaced by Dele Alli, who came on for his debut and did well in the fifteen minutes he had.  He shows an athleticism and confidence that will serve him well.

Tottenham were at last getting runners in positions advanced of the person on the bal and Davies made a burst into the box that brought a tackle from Smalling that won a corner.  Not a lot has changed with our corners, as this one was headed away at the near post.  But as the game came to the closing stages, Tottenham seemed to find a second wind.  Alderweireld played Eriksen in for a shot from an acute angle on the left, but Romero gathered it, although minutes later he did less well with Kane's header that flicked off Smalling and forced the keeper to parry the ball wide, when he might have been able to hold onto it.  The ball was still alive and Lamela pulled it back for Christian to shot at goal and the Argentine international keeper could only push it straight out into the middle of the penalty box.  Unfortunately, no Spurs player was on hand to get there first.

Bookings for Mata and Alli were exchanged before Toby went on a marauding run into the right wing position and his cross was just too high for Alli, who had made a late run into the box.  United were reduced to hanging onto the ball in the corners to run down time, as they held on for the win.

It wasn't a great Spurs performance, although good in parts.  It showed up some of our shortcomings and there were decent debuts for Alderweireld and Alli, but Eriksen went missing from action for periods of the match and Bentaleb needs to sharpen up his passing.  Kane battled away on his own up front and this allowed the United defence time to snuff him out with two players closing him when he got the ball.  Another player closer to him is essential to give the other side more to think about. 

As for United, they posed little threat considering they were at home and they have similar striking issues, with some question marks hanging over Romero in goal, who may be tested more in games to come.

Stoke are the visitors to the Lane on Saturday and will provide a test of a different kind, although their game against Liverpool today might allow Pochettino to see if there has been a significant change in their approach to the game.

Steve Pa



Manchester United once held the world record for rumoured transfer bids (31) in one day in a transfer window.  All the players they were linked with were due to play them in the opening fixture of the Premier League season within a few days of the rumours appearing.


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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Bournemouth 0 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Chelsea 2 Swansea City 2 Saturday
Everton 2 Watford 2 Saturday
Leicester City 4 Sunderland 2 Saturday
Norwich City 1 Crystal Palace 3 Saturday
Arsenal 0 West Ham United 2 Sunday
Newcastle United 2 Southampton 2 Sunday
Stoke City 0 Liverpool 1 Sunday
West Bromwich Albion 0 Manchester City 3 Monday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 +3
2 Leicester City 1 1 0 0 4 2 3 +2
3 Crystal Palace 1 1 0 0 3 1 3 +2
4 West Ham United 1 1 0 0 2 0 3 +2
5 Aston Villa 1 1 0 0 1 0 3 +1
6 Liverpool 1 1 0 0 1 0 3 +1
7 Manchester United 1 1 0 0 1 0 3 +1
8 Chelsea 1 0 1 0 2 2 1 0
9 Everton 1 0 1 0 2 2 1 0
10 Swansea City 1 0 1 0 2 2 1 0
11 Watford 1 0 1 0 2 2 1 0
12 Newcastle United 1 0 1 0 2 2 1 0
13 Southampton 1 0 1 0 2 2 1 0
14 Bournemouth 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 -1
15 Stoke City 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 -1
16 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 -1
17 Norwich City 1 0 0 1 1 3 0 -2
18 Sunderland 1 0 0 1 2 4 0 -2
19 Arsenal 1 0 0 1 0 2 0 -2
20 West Bromwich Albion 1 0 0 1 0 3 0 -3


Position before match :  N/A
Position after match :  18th
Position after the weekend :  16th


* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.


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