United v Spurs

We’re inviting some of our Twitter friends to share some of their ‘Pre and Post Match’ thoughts with us from now on. You can still enjoy my nonsensical, confusing punctuation buffets below their proper good ones…

Iwan (@IwanLehnert):

Hate’s a strong word. I don’t really hate Oasis, I just really dislike them. I never really hated cauliflower in my youth, just couldn’t stomach its healthiness. But if you were looking for a word to describe the feeling amongst Tottenham Hotspur fans when a visit to Old Trafford rolls around, then you could do a lot worse. I know they hate it because they’ve told me so after Nani scored his first, stunning goal for the club and Wes Brown got away with apparently handling (the ball) in the area, and that was five years ago. Since then, we’ve had that penalty and that freekickthatwasntagoalkickoops, so you can safely assume that time hasn’t sweetened this thinking. Both teams are starting to put some decent results together of late after opening defeats, with both United and Spurs enjoying wins in the Capital One Cup in midweek, but if that’s a barometer of form, then we’re all screwed (I’m not mentioning Liverpool, but I’m certainly thinking about them).

United

I don’t suddenly expect every single one of the youngsters who got a run out on Wednesday to suddenly start biting at the heels of their first-team counterpart, but if the victory over Newcastle United does one thing, it showed just how much energy and effort we’ve been missing from some first team displays this season. Will that kick a few players in the backside and get them in gear? Certainly worth a shot after an extended burst of the boss’ half-time hair dryer at Anfield appeared to do exactly naff all. What Wednesday did show was that United do have a fairly decent depth to the squad, and that’s heartening in a season where you can’t really say that any player is truly undroppable.

Playing with Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck up front gave United more options going forward than normal against Newcastle, and whilst all three performed well, it was most rewarding to see Cleverley and Anderson score a couple of peaches for a much-maligned midfield. Robin Van Persie will surely come back into the side for this game with maybe Welbeck for company, and rightly so. The great thing about having the Dutchman around is that Rooney doesn’t have to be rushed back into the side after injury for fear of lacking an attacking threat, and that’s a big bonus.

The Nani issue raised its head again after the Liverpool match, and whilst he did have a particularly useless 45 minutes at Anfield, did anyone in a white shirt fare that much better than him bar Ferdinand and Evans? The Newcastle victory showed that we don’t necessarily have to use him to be effective going forward, so maybe the Fear of God strategy will sort his inconsistency out. We can but dream, I guess. Also, it is just me that finds it odd that our best corners this season have come from Van Persie….?

Spurs

For Spurs, after grinding out a 2-1 victory over QPR, their season might just be starting to take shape. Slowly, mind you; every single analyst worth their salt was quick to mention how the pressure was mounting on Andre Villas-Boas after a loss and two draws made Spurs’ start to the season less than stellar. Whilst ol’ Andre was chucked out quite quickly by Roman ‘The Roman’ Ambramovich after Chelsea’s season had almost fallen apart, he will get more time from Daniel Levy at White Hart Lane because they aren’t challenging on quite the same level and the expectation, whilst high, is not quite so intense. AVB fits into Levy’s long term plan for the club and should be expected to succeed, given time and support. Hell, if he gets Jermain Defoe scoring on a regular basis, then the man’s practically a genius…

Part of that long-term strategy will inevitably revolve around Champions League football. Problem is that realistically, only two of London’s big three teams are going to fit into the league’s top four along with City and United (presumptuous, I know), and Spurs want to be one of those three.  These then become the sort of games they need to not only perform in, but to get something from. Spurs haven’t left Old Trafford with so much as a draw since 2005, and as I’m pretty sure both Levy and AVB harbour serious aspirations of that much-coveted and financially rewarding top four finish, they’ll need to turn that record and others similar to it around at some point.

Most Reds would probably agree that we have been a touch lucky in this fixture now and then, with Howard Webb’s penalty award on Heurelho Gomes in 2009 a key part of that fantastic 5-2 fightback or Nani taking advantage to score after a free-kick mix-up two years ago. Then again, United dominated Spurs at home last season with a comfortable 3-0 victory before Ashley Young offered up two excellent strikes in the return fixture down south. Spurs are overdue a decent performance against United, all mishaps aside, and whilst I’m sure AVB’s job won’t be under immediate pressure if they come up short on Saturday afternoon, the Portuguese and his side would love nothing more than making a statement of intent at Old Trafford. There’s plenty of craft in their midfield that isn’t Welsh and is still decent for Spurs, but without suitable back-up for Defoe, there might be too much of an instant reliance on Clint Dempsey to make something special happen, and whilst the England striker has made a decent start to this season, you’d expect Ferdinand and Evans to win that particular battle.

Prediction: 3-1 United with at least seven contentious free kicks awarded, an annoyingly acrobatic Brad Friedel performance and another goal from midfield.

 

Brett:

Wow. After that I’ve got the chokes!! Oh no, you’re in luck…

Whenever these two team meet at Old Trafford, or White Heart Lane, I always feels like something good is gonna happen (cue montage with appropriate song), probably as I feel like it’s the coming together of two proper teams who like to win a game in the right way … by outscoring their opponents.

Despite always predicting a win, I’ve had an annoying feeling all week that Spurs are going to nick something that I can’t seem to shake off. It’s something to do with AVB; I can envisage our ‘scalp’ being the kick start his Spurs career is aching for. Anyway, probably just something I ate, hey?!

Rooney’s back in contention, but surely will only make the bench (Not a bad sub to bring on – unless he plays badly when he comes on, I suppose), which might see Kagawa and Van Persie kind of up front together – which will please me.

Nani’s rumoured misdemeanours might just be the catalyst his season needs – something to shock him into this realm of human existence. Probably means exactly the opposite. I never once pretended to know what I was talking about. With TV maybe out with an ankle injury and Young out too (I think), we could sure use him AND he likes playing Spurs.

Defensively we just have to cross our fingers that they can come through unscathed. I have faith in all our defenders to do a good job (Not you Buttner – not yet). No defence can stop Bale et al when they’re on it. Hopefully they’re not.

This game will be won in midfield (I heard someone say it once and thought it might trick you into thinking I’m blog savvy). Aren’t they all?!

Prediction: 3-2 thriller.

Goals: RVP, Ka-Ka-Ka-Kagawa and Rooney (with late winner from bench)

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