Whenever Spurs face Manchester United, it’s always likely to be an important game for at least one of the clubs. This weekend sees a game however that could be pivotal to the league season of both clubs.
Tottenham go into the game on the back a six-goal thumping administered by United’s cross city rivals from Eastlands. In a display described later by manager Andre Villas-Boas as “embarrassing” his team capitulated weakly. The Portuguese has been involved in another of his projects at White Hart Lane, using the ‘Bale’ money plus an odd £20million or so extra to rebuild the squad with the addition of seven or eight expensive purchases – depending how you define the term. With such a turnover of playing staff of course, a bedding-in period can be expected as the new team gels into an efficient unit. Worrying for Villas-Boas, and the spurs fans, however is that, with a dozen games gone in the programme aside from various cup commitments, there appears to be very little sign of improvement. Their ability to Score goals has been a problem all season, and the six goal battering from City, has now exposed defensive frailties as well.
The game against United is therefore of fundamental importance to Spurs. Win, and belief can be reinstalled. If however they suffer a further defeat, the tenure of Villas-Boas at White Hart Lane could be in serious jeopardy. For David Moyes, the situation is not very different. The victory over Leverkusen however will have been a welcome encouragement on the road to establishing himself at the club.
United’s league form to date has been patchy to say the least. Although a head of steam was being established prior to the international break, it seemed that the momentum has been lost in that two week period as United twice let slip a lead against Cardiff on Sunday. What will have worried Moyes particularly is that his central midfield comprising the expensive-looking Fellaini and the perhaps over-hyped Cleverly were often overrun by an exuberant but limited Cardiff team. Even turning to the near 40 year old Ryan Giggs in an effort to add a little stability, ultimately proved to be a forlorn gesture. It’s therefore important that United take the points against Spurs to re-establish an improving league form.
The game will probably be a tight affair, and as often is the case when both teams need to win, a draw is perhaps the most likely result. Spurs’ need is probably the greater, but it’s difficult to imagine how their goal-shy forward line can do sufficient damage to United’s defence to secure a victory. I’m going for 1-1 draw. It probably won’t help either team’s cause over much, a defeat for either could be a major issue.