Manchester United will head to White Hart Lane on Sunday to face Tottenham Hotspurs in what promises to be a fiercely contested match-up.
Spurs currently sit second in the Premier League table, seven points behind leaders Leicester City, and a home win might be enough to convince fans that a title challenge is still possible with just six fixtures remaining. As for United, the Red Devils are in fifth place, one point behind rivals Manchester City with seven games left, and Louis Van Gaal’s men are gunning for a Champions League qualifying spot.
Comparing the recent form of the two clubs in domestic action, Tottenham had convincing wins over Bournemouth and Aston Villa, and a strong away performance at Anfield that ended in 1-1 draw. United had a disappointing 1-0 defeat to West Brom at the beginning of March, but have managed back-to-back 1-0 wins over Manchester City and Everton to see their hopes of a fourth-place finish improve dramatically.
In other competitions however, both clubs have struggled. Spurs were knocked out of the Europa League round of 16 in March at the hands of Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, with an aggregate score of 5-1. The Red Devils suffered a similar fate, going down to Liverpool over two legs by a score of 3-1. Unlike Pochettino’s squad, United are still alive in the FA Cup competition, and they will travel to West Ham for a quarter-final replay on April 14th.
Tottenham, having a better season and playing at home, can definitely be considered the favorites. In fact, odds-makers list the fantastic Premiership betting odds with Tottenham as a 19/20 favorite to come out with the three points on Sunday. Nonetheless, a resurgent Manchester United looking to finish in a Champions League spot will be anything but easy to defeat.
Injuries continue to be a big setback for United manager Van Gaal, and captain Wayne Rooney, who has been out for over two months with a shoulder injury, is not expected to be ready for the trip to White Hart Lane. It’s speculated that Rooney will appear for the U21 squad before rejoining the first team, making April 16th a more likely return date. United will also be missing Bastian Schweinsteiger, Will Keane and Luke Shaw. Defender Phil Jones is listed as doubtful, but after some recent match-time with the U21s, he could be part of the first squad on the 10th.
Injures will also be a factor for Tottenham, albeit a smaller one, as they will be missing Clinton N’Jie and Nabil Bentaleb. Jan Vertonghen and Erik Lamela might both return from their respective injuries for the home fixture, though Lamela is listed as doubtful.
Manchester United won the previous meeting between the two sides 1-0 at the beginning of the season thanks to an own goal from Kyle Walker.