OPPONENTS Manchester United
COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Friday 19th June 2020
PREVIEW After 103 days, football is back ... but not as we know it !

We hope that you have all been keeping well and to anyone who has lost a friend or a member of their family to Covid-19, we extend our sympathies.  It has been an uncomfortable time for most people and while football returns, it will still be a very odd world out there for a while to come.

Has football come back too soon ?  Personally, I think it has and the league should have been cancelled, but the Government want life to return to 'normal' as soon as possible.  For some, football is not one of the most important things and a return to fans being at games seems a very long way off when going shopping is one of the most dangerous things you can do.

But we host Manchester United in what would have been our next game before Lockdown, with both sides having had the benefit of the break allowing players to get fit, when it looked like they might have missed the rest of the season.  Spurs welcome Kane, Son and Sissoko back, while United have Rashford raring to go after his successful School Meals campaign.

But what of the game ?  Well, the time will have allowed Mourinho more time to work with the squad since his November appointment and hopefully we will see a more cohesive unit, although a suspension for Dele Alli, the non-match fitness of Gio Lo Celso and injury to Japhet Tanganga have affected his plans.  Hopefully, his words about Tanguy Ndombele will herald a new start for the Frenchman and we might start to see the best of him, with his battle with Bruno Fernandes being an interesting sub-plot, after Spurs dropped out of signing the Portuguese midfielder.

With both teams not having played in for three months, form goes out of the window, but the fresh start might be a help to us, as our form hadn't been great coming into this match.  United are a strong side and being above us, the three points would come in useful, but with de Gea a very good goalkeeper, Spurs will need to create plenty to make him work hard and to find a way past him.  Harry Kane has had joy against Maguire before and hopefully his new found sharpness will see him get the better of his England team-mate, while Son's direct running will test Wan-Bissaka and Sissoko's return provide a solidity in midfield his absence has missed.

United's array of players include the Marmite talents of Paul Pogba, who divides United fans, with Rashford and Martial both quick and deadly up front.  Fred and Matic provide the industry in the middle of the team and Daniel James has not capitalised on his speed or a good start in the team, being more of a peripheral figure before the League was put on hold.  Loan signing from China, Odion Ighalo, is better known to Spurs fans from his time at Watford, but he has been scoring in the cup competitions, but is awaiting his first league goal for United.  A strong presence, he is not quite a straight replacement for Lukaku, but does take up some good positions and will need to be kept on a tight rein.  With Vertonghen's situation unresolved and Japhet out, the defence will look a little re-shaped, so they need to be tight as a unit to stop United finding ways through.

Tottenham will miss the artistry of Lo Celso, who was coming into his own as the game stopped being played, but the return of the three players we didn't think would feature again this season should fill the void.  With the increased use of substitutes allowed (five from three opportunities to introduce them) and the frequency of games in the effort to finish the season, we might see some of the younger Spurs players get some game time, with Malachi Fagan-Walcott getting a game in Leipzig before Lockdown.  Son's pace could trouble the Red Devils' back line and a switch to the right would pit him against the aggressive, but rash Williams if he doesn't get any joy on the left wing.  The interesting thing will be to see how Mourinho has spent his time with the squad and how they are going to put into practice the ideas he has for the way we will play.

Despite, all that, if United play to their potential, they are capable of beating us, but then the opposite is true also.  If we catch them on a day when they are not at it, we could take the points, but with both teams coming into a second "first game of the season", they will be up for it and it will be a tough task to take much from the game, but if they work hard and can get at the United defence, there are chances there to be taken.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    1        Manchester United   1
Manchester United TEAM NEWS :

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Premier League Kick off 20.15
Tottenham Hotspur  1 (1) Manchester United  1 (0)


Bergwijn  21m 26s


B. Fernandes (p)  70m 53s



James (foul on Dier) 41


Crowd :   0,000 Weather :  Rainy at start; mild
Referee :  Jon Moss (Leeds) Assistant Referees :  -  Mr. E. Smart; Mr. N. Davies
Fourth Official :  Andre Marriner  
Video Assistant Referee :  Graham Scott Video Assistant Referee Assistant :  Stephen Child
Manchester United kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 11 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Manchester United : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

24  Serge AURIER
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
33  Ben DAVIES

17  Moussa SISSOKO
  8  Harry WINKS

23  Steven BERGWIJN    (18  Giovani LO CELSO  70)
1  Erik LAMELA  (30  Gedson FERNANDES  70)
  7  Heung-Min SON

19  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
28  Tanguy NDOMBELE
  Oliver SKIPP

  Harvey WHITE

    1  David de GEA

29  Aaron
2  Victor LINDELHOF  (31  Nemanja MATIC  78)
  5  Harry MAGUIRE  (c)
23  Luke SHAW

21  Daniel JAMES  (26  Mason GREENWOOD  62)
17  FRED  (  6  Paul POGBA  63)
18  Bruno FERNANDES  (p)
39  Scott McTOMINAY  (  3  Eric BAILLY  89)

10  Marcus RASHFORD
  9  Anthony MARTIAL  (25  Odion IGHALO  78)

Unused subs: 
22  Sergio ROMERO
  8  Juan MATA
14  Jesse LINGARD
53  Brandon WILLIAMS


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

Football returned in a form that nobody had envisaged three months ago.  No crowd, corner flags sprayed during the newly introduced drinks breaks and

United looked more comfortable on the ball in the first few minutes, with Spurs struggling to get time on the ball. When we did, Lamela took on Fred, played it into Bergwijn, who laid it off for Kane to spread wide for Aurier to cross low, with the ball blocked out for a corner. Nothing came from it, but the one thing I immediately noticed was Spurs were using the ball long out from Lloris and the back four. Erik Lamela was playing central in the attacking midfield three and was seeing a lot of the ball and cold have sent Son away but took an extra touch that lost the opportunity to build something from there. When Tottenham did get possession, United packed everyone behind the ball (and who’s defensive ?), but they only produced a weak shot from Son from just outside the area.

When out of possession, Spurs players were not going hard after the United players to get it back. When Lamela did, he barged into McTominay late and got a ticking off from referee Moss. From that free-kick, United worked the ball eft for Fernades to cross and Davies was alert to the fact that James was coming in behind him, heading it out for a corner. Another followed, but Spurs got it away. Another aspect of the Spurs game was the lack of movement off the ball when we had a throw-in. The thrower often had three players close to him, but none were making a run to receive the ball. It was halfway through the half when a shot in anger was fired. Fernandes played a first time cross into the area, Davinson Sanchez squirted the ball off his head behind him and it went straight to Rashford, who side-footed a volley that Hugo kicked away with his left foot, as it went to his left. Fred followed up with a shot straight at Lloris.

After the drinks break, United could have had a chance when James broke away and his cross was over-hit for Rashford, who had nudged Aurier out of the way off the ball and the social hero set up Fernandes, but his effort was gathered by Hugo. From his clearance, the ball came back for him to have another go and United won the ball but Aurier won it back, nudging it forward to Steven Bergwijn. He went past Maguire with ease and Fred couldn’t get a touch on the winger, leaving him with a clear run into the box, striking the ball cleanly and powerfully past de Gea from 12 yards out.

On the balance of play, it would be hard to say that Spurs deserved it, but it was a strong run and just what we wanted to see from our January signing.
A couple of minutes later, Fred’s free-kick went just over Davies’ head and Rashford failed to go for it, leaving it to come off Sanchez, forcing Lloris to push the ball wide. Spurs were hitting on the break with Bergwijn picking out Son at the far post, with the South Korean’s header back across goal tipped over as it looked as though a second goal might be coming Tottenham’s way.  Kane pressured Lindelhof into giving away a corner from inside his own box, with the dead ball being cleared, but when it came back in, Son set up Dier, who sliced his shot and Sanchez turned it over.

The game got a little sloppy, with teams turning over possession and James hacked down Dier after he thought he should have had a free-kick, just getting himself into the referee’s book. While United were enjoying more possession, it was Spurs who looked more attacking when they had the ball, although just before the end of added time Fernandes tried a shot from 25 yards. Lloris did well to get down to the shot, with the ball swerving and dipping just in front of the Tottenham captain.

The half-time break saw the teams turn around with Spurs still ahead and with no changes, Spurs kicked off the second half. The first five minutes was quite cautious from both sides, with Lamela’s passing not into a team-mate’s path on a couple of occasions. He wasn’t the only one who looked a bit rusty, with Kane having a heavy touch and Aurier doing the same when going forward.

Eight minutes into the half, United took the ball after Spurs gave it away and Rashford played it right to Fernandes, whose low shot went a ball with wide of Hugo’s right hand post. But again, it was Tottenham’s speed on the break that opened up United as Maguire took down Bergwijn, although play was waved on, Kane went down the left and played a low ball into the six yard box, where Lamela had a stretch for the ball blocked.

Around the hour mark, Spurs started to drop deep and United made a double switch, one of whom was Pogba. Fernandes picked out a great pass to Martial inside the box just right of centre, but the effort was low and not good enough to beat Hugo, as United pressed Spurs back even further. Spurs were finding it difficult to get the ball away and Shaw played it in to Martial, whose quick shot looked in until Lloris threw a left hand up to push the ball over the bar with a fine save.

The obligatory drinks break came just after Pogba had wrestled Lamela to the floor. It gave Mourinho the opportunity to swap Lo Celso and our own Fernandes in place of Bergwijn and Lamela. Spurs won a corner and then from the second ball worked a neat little move between the two subs and Lo Celso crossed nearly picking out Sissoko in the middle, but the keeper punched it away.

In this stage of the match, Spurs were holding the ball better and were relieving the pressure on their own goal. Bruno Fernandes was heard to scream whenever he got tackled, but Solskjaer took off Lindelhof and Martial to give Ighalo and Matic game time. However, it was Pogba who effected the change in the way the game was going, with a run tight to the line, taking contact from Dier in the box to win a penalty. Fernandes took it and scored to level the score at a time when Tottenham were looking to have ridden the wave of United pressure.

A Spurs free-kick from Son hit the wall and United broke with Pogba hitting a 40 yard pass to Rashford, but Sanchez got back in the nick of time to take the ball off him. Tottenham were looking to go forward, with a Fernandes cross winning a corner and from it, Lo Celso was fouled 25 yards out, just left of centre. Harry Kane lined it up and he hit the wall too.

With a minute to go, Rashford played the ball into the box after taking the ball off Aurier and Dier stepped in, with Bruno Fernandes throwing himself to the floor. VAR looked at it and wiped out the original decision, but of course, the referee can’t book a player for seeking to deceive a match official, although that is what it was. In fact, Moss lost control of the game in the last few minutes, with some fouls allowed to go and others, which looked innocuous bringing a whistle.

United took a quick throw near the end and then worked the ball across the pitch to Greenwood, who drilled a shot that went wide across the goal, but not as wide as the United Fernandes, who put one nearer the corner flag. It was the last action in what was a game that lacked sustained tempo and looked like two sides playing below full throttle.

By the end, Son looked knackered, Kane dropped into a deep position, but others – Winks, Sissoko and Aurier - kept going.  Mourinho had limited options on the bench to replace the strikers, but will change things for Tuesday's game, when the need to win reasserts itself and with a game under their belts, the team will be able to get functioning more smoothly.

Kirk Hammerton

Match facts

Names on shirts replaced by Black Lives Matter and players ‘took the knee’ before kick-off.

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How the players did
Hugo Lloris Made two very good stops to prevent United scoring.  Generally looked much more confident than when he returned from injury.
Ben Davies Solid game, with his attacking side curbed to prevent United using the wing on his side.
Serge Aurier A good game from Serge.  Won most tackles and only lost the ball once when trying to take on Rashford, which did lead to a good chance for Martial, but he had the attacking full-back role and made the interception for Bergwijn's goal.
Davinson Sanchez Did well, but a mis-cued header gave Rashford the first chance of the game.  His pace was needed against the pacy United attack.
Eric Dier Strong for the majority of the game, but sucked into giving the penalty away by Pogba, who was looking to make the most of his presence.  Did well not to give a second penalty away by not falling for it twice.  A good pick by Mourinho in central defence.
Harry Winks A mixed bag for Winksy.  Energetic and covered a lot of ground by keeping going, but not his usual effective performance, probably due to the need to contain United's midfield.
Moussa Sissoko Outstanding game from The Mouss.  Strong in midfield winning the ball and moving it forward. 
Stephen Bergwijn Took his goal well, with pace and skill to take on the United defence.  Tired as the game went on, but a promising performance for when he hits peak fitness.
Erik Lamela Heavily involved and looked like he was glad to be playing again, but often his passes are not on target and if they had been, it might have created a few more chances.  Put in a lot of effort. 
Heung-Min Son Started well, with pace and intent, but faded as the game went on and Mourinho didn't have a replacement for him, so he had to stay on.
Harry Kane Linked play well, but like his time in the team earlier in the season, he had few chances to score.  Tired in the latter stages.
Gedson Fernandes Twenty minute performance and showed that there is a partnership with Lo Celso blooming.
Giovani Lo Celso Looked to have picked up where he left off with a Modric like performance in the time he was given.
Paulo Gazzaniga Unused.
Toby Alderweireld Unused.
Jan Vertonghen Unused.
Ryan Sessegnon Unused.
Tanguy Ndombele Unused.
Harvey White Unused.
Oliver Skipp Unused.


What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Manchester City 3 Woolwich Wanderers 0 Wednesday
Aston Villa 0 Sheffield United 0 Wednesday
Norwich City 0 South Coast Big Club 3 Friday
Aston Villa 1 Frank Lampard's Chelsea 2 Sunday
AFC Bournemouth 0 Crystal Palace 2 Saturday
Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Woolwich Wanderers 1 Saturday
Everton 0 Liverpool 0 Sunday
Manchester City 5 Burnley 0 Monday
Newcastle United 3 Sheffield United 0 Sunday
Watford 1 Leicester City 1 Saturday
West Ham United London 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Saturday



League Table  2019-20
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 30 27 2 1 66 21 83 +45
2 Manchester City 30 20 3 7 76 31 63 +45
3 Leicester City 30 16 6 8 59 29 54 +30
4 Frank Lampard's Chelsea 30 15 6 9 53 40 51 +13
5 Manchester United 30 12 10 8 45 31 46 +14
6 Sheffield United 30 11 11 8 30 28 44 +2
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 30 11 13 6 43 34 46 +9
8 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 30 11 9 10 48 41 42 +7
9 Woolwich Wanderers 30 9 13 8 41 41 40 0
10 Burnley 30 11 6 13 34 45 39 -11
11 Crystal Palace 30 11 9 10 28 32 42 -4
12 Everton 30 10 8 12 37 46 38 -9
13 South Coast Big Club 30 11 4 15 38 52 37 -14
14 Newcastle United 30 10 8 12 28 41 38 -13
15 Brighton & Hove Albion 30 7 11 12 34 41 32 -8
16 West Ham United London 30 7 6 17 35 52 27 -17
17 Watford 30 6 10 14 28 45 28 -17
18 AFC Bournemouth 30 7 6 17 29 49 27 -20
19 Aston Villa 30 7 5 18 35 58 26 -23
20 Norwich City 30 5 6 19 25 55 21 -30

Position before match :  8th
Position after match :  8th


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