There are some cracking games in the Premier League this weekend that will affect both top and bottom of the league, but by the time Spurs and Manchester United kick off on Sunday afternoon they will know all the other results. Leicester face a tough trip to Sunderland, while Arsenal play away at West Ham and if the division’s 1st and 3rd placed sides fail to take maximum points, both Spurs and United will fancy their chances of making up ground in their respective challenges.
For Spurs it’s a rare opportunity to compete at the very top, and although they remain seven points behind Leicester, it’s still all to play for. Manchester United have long since given up hope of a title, but they have an equally pressing battle on their hands to secure a top four finish and a place in next season’s Champions League. Matches between these two teams usually provide great quality, and with so much to play for on Sunday we expect nothing less as two top sides go toe-to-toe.
Spurs Chasing the Title
Spurs will be hoping and praying that Sunderland do them a favour and take points off Leicester earlier in the day, but even if the Black Cats oblige, Spurs can do little else but concentrate on their own form and try to take maximum points from every game.
Their recent run in the league has been excellent with seven wins from the last ten, along with draws against Liverpool and Arsenal, and just the one defeat at West Ham. It has been clear over the last few months where Tottenham’s priorities lie, and the fans have had to forgive them for effectively throwing the Europa League and the FA Cup to enable them to concentrate on the league. Mauricio Pochettino played a second string side in both home and away legs against Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 of the Europa League, eventually going out 5-1 on aggregate. He also put out a weakened side in the 1-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup, but all will be forgotten if his side manages to overhaul Leicester and claim their first ever Premier League trophy.
In the league however, Spurs have been rock-solid at home and have the division’s second best home record after the leaders. They’ve won 9 of 16 on their own ground, with five draws and two defeats – at the hands of Newcastle and Leicester.
Manchester United’s Travel Sickness
Manchester United have won four of the last five Premier League games, although three of them have been at home to Arsenal, Watford and Everton. The other was a fine 1-0 derby win at Man City, but that shouldn’t distract from their relatively poor away form. They sit 10th in the Premier League ‘away’ table after six defeats, four draws and just six victories on the road. They’ve lost four of the last six away games – Midtjylland, Sunderland, West Brom, Liverpool – with just that derby win and a 3-0 success at Shrewsbury in the FA Cup in-between. They haven’t won here in three visits since 2012, and on balance Spurs look to have the better squad of the two right now.
United have failed to score more than once in their last seven games, since the 3-2 win over Arsenal, and goals continue to be a problem. Louis van Gaal has had to rely on the youthful trio of Martial, Lingard and Rashford, but the three of them can’t carry a club of the size of Manchester United and the return of Wayne Rooney can’t come quick enough for Red Devils fans. They have also been ultra-reliant on the brilliance of David de Gea between the sticks, but he can’t be expected to put in match-winning performances every week and this is a United side that look vulnerable.
It’s All About the Firepower
Ultimately it could well come down to goals, and Spurs have excelled in that department for most of the season – thanks largely to the league’s top scorer, Harry Kane. As a team they are also the division’s top scorers with 57 goals, and have a healthy 12 strikes to their name in the last seven games – compared to United’s five in the last seven.
Kane has been ably supported by the likes of Alli and Eriksen and with those three stepping on the toes of United defenders, they are fancied to force mistakes and create chances. Spurs have scored at least two goals in four of their last five games at White Hart Lane, and United just don’t appear to have the firepower to match them.
At odds of +100 with Paddy Power, Spurs are worth backing to exert their superiority over a United side which may have had a bit of a flase dawn in recent weeks.
That derby win over City lifted spirits around Old Trafford, but in Everton and Watford they’ve struggled to overcome out-of-form teams. The poor away record may come back to haunt them again here, and while Spurs push on in search of a title, Manchester United could find their Champions League dreams in tatters by the end of the game on Sunday evening.
Tottenham to beat Manchester United
Sunday 10th April, 16:00 GMT