PREMIER LEAGUE analyst Ben Levene (@benlevene96) analyses this week's MNF as Man Utd host Spurs in a crunch clash.
Man Utd v Spurs | Monday 27th August 2018, 20:00 | Sky Sports
There is a stereotype about how Jose Mourinho approaches these top-six clashes, and you’d imagine after a woeful performance last weekend, he’ll be as pragmatic as ever.
On 12 of the last 16 occasions United have lost and then played within two-weeks, they’ve gone on to keep a clean sheet.
However, Utd have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight games versus the top-six, which is surprising. As we know, Jose isn’t happy with his squad – he was desperate for a centre-back this summer. The Portuguese born-boss will also be without Antonio Valencia and Ander Herrera, two players integral to his plan in these sort of games.
Tottenham don’t have a great record against the top-six, but they did draw at Anfield and win at Stamford Bridge last season, their last two away games of this ilk.
Toby Alderweireld is seemingly back in Mauricio Pochettino’s good books and was awarded a start last Saturday, while Mousa Dembele has been managed with this clash in mind.
Pochettino reverted to a back-three at the weekend, with Lucas Moura playing centrally alongside Harry Kane in attack.
32 of Man Utd’s last 62 games have been settled by just the single goal (52%). Against the top-six since Mourinho took charge, 14 of 24 games have been settled by the single-goal margin, that’s 58%. Five of those games ended level, in a game that saw under 2.5 goals.
Last season an incredible nine of 12 United games against the top-six were won by a single-goal.
It’s no surprise such a proportion of the Red Devils’ games are decided by such slim margins – as we’ve already mentioned, Jose sets his teams up negatively, meaning they are always competitive in games. They rarely get rolled over, and likewise they are happy to shut up shop with a one-goal lead.
These sides have met five times with these managers in charge. Four of those were settled by just one goal. Although head-to-heads are often meaningless, that goes some way reinforcing how the Utd and Spurs systems play out against each other.
With the above in mind, the game to be settled by the single-goal either way at 13/10 (Betway) has to be value.
I’m happy to go with half that stake on the Draw & under 2.5 goals at 16/5 (Boylesports).
Since Mourinho took charge only three of 39 visitors at Old Trafford have scored more than the single goal in the Premier League. As already outlined, all Mourinho’s draws with the top-six in that time have seen under 2.5 goals.
Man Utd v Spurs – One-goal winning margin (13/10 Betway)
Man Utd v Spurs – Draw & under 3.5 goals (16/5 Boylesports)