TOTTENHAM host Manchester United on Friday evening in the Premier League. Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) analyses the encounter.
Tottenham vs Manchester United | Friday 19th June 2020, 20:15 | Sky Sports
Jose Mourinho goes head-to-head with his former employers Manchester United with many a point to prove and not only to those in the away camp.
Since arriving in November, Mourinho’s time in North London has not endeared him to the Tottenham fanbase which can hardly come as any surprise when you factor in poor results as well as an outdated brand of football. Before the suspension of play, Spurs lost four of six matches and you could even tally it up to five if you include the FA Cup penalty loss to lowly Norwich.
With an early Champions league exit and lack of positive results in the league, the Portuguese manager’s win percentage stands at just 42.3%, the lowest of any Spurs manager since Juande Ramos’s ill-faited 35 game spell in charge all the way back in 2007.
From the outside, most people were baffled by the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino having taken a team with no new signings in 2018/19 to the Champions League final. That seemingly didn’t give the Argentine enough credit in the bank when Spurs started this season poorly with the away form being the squad’s constant Achilles heal.
In truth though, Tottenham haven’t yet replicated the home record they established in the latter years of White Hart Lane at their new stadium and with the remaining fixtures in N17 to be played behind closed doors, you wonder whether how much of a home ‘advantage’ there will be here.
In the six full matchdays since the Bundesliga resumed, home wins have dropped a massive 23% and although we can’t say for certain, that could well be a common theme across the major leagues as they get underway again.
I’m happy to get United on side for other reasons than just that though, mainly due to the talent they will have at their disposal here. Spurs have looked a defensive liability all season long with the seventh highest Expected Goals against total (xGA) and just four league clean sheets in 29 games played. United to win is 29/20 with Betfair at the time of writing and will be my first play.
Whilst United look set to be at full strength, the Lillywhites will be missing Dele Alli through suspension and bright young talent Japhet Tanganga who had breathed new line into a fragile defence. That backline will, in my view, struggle to cope with the pace of the United forwards and particularly the man who’s had an extraordinary week – Marcus Rashford.
Rashford and Red Devils to thrive
Rashford’s off the field work has seen plenty of deserved plaudits come his way and with the high he must be on, I wouldn’t put anyone off backing the England striker to score anytime in the game or, if you’re feeling brave, to be first goalscorer at 9/2 and repeat the winning double he bagged in the reverse fixture.
The 22-year-old and his teammates have all benefitted from the January signing of Bruno Fernandes who has helped the team become far more potent in attack. The man bought from Lisbon’s shot average per 90 minutes is an impressive 3.63 and in away games since the middle of February, United have recorded an average shot count of 17.75 showing just how much they are taking the game to their opponents.
A feature of Spurs’ underwhelming season has been just how many shots they are allowing opposing teams to register. The season average stands at 14.4 per match – the 6th highest total in the Premier League – and in the last two matches against top six sides that number has risen to 16 and 15 respectively.
Whether Tottenham go full on Mourinho masterclass to try and stifle the game or play more expansive I can see them being opened up by the Red Devils and that should lead to plenty of efforts for the away side. United to have 14 or more shots is 11/10 with SkyBet and I’m happy to back that for my second selection of the game.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whether you think he’s a good coach or not, does like his teams to play on the front foot and although the ‘Ole’s at the wheel’ slogans may be heard a lot less now, there’s no doubting that the former striker is getting some good form out of United’s youngsters.
The team have seemingly prepared well for the season restart, looking sharp in friendly games whilst Spurs’ most recent warm up fixture was postponed following a Norwich player (who they played last week) testing positive for COVID-19. If United can use that extra bit of match sharpness to their advantage, I think Rashford, Fernandes, Martial and company will take the three points back to Manchester.