Tottenham Hotspur can give their top-four ambitions a major boost by beating Manchester United in a Premier League fixture at Wembley on Wednesday night.
31 January 2018
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Referee: A. Marriner
Assistants: S. Ledger, S. Beck
Fourth official: G. Scott
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Tottenham 157 36 39 82
Man United 157 82 39 36
Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur 28/10/17 (Premier League)
Man United goal scorer: A. Martial (81′)
Players to watch:
It may have been fourth-tier opposition, but Friday’s FA Cup fourth-round win over Yeovil Town at Huish Park saw Alexis Sanchez exhibiting on debut exactly what he can bring to his new team with a typically industrious display. The former Arsenal star will now be fired up to score for the Red Devils on his Premier League debut against the Gunners’ bitter rivals.
Christian Eriksen is expected to recover from illness in time for the match and the Danish playmaker could be crucial to Spurs’ hopes of unlocking the best defence in the league. His ability to create openings for Harry Kane, and to conjure something out of nothing for the north Londoners with his set-piece delivery and eye for a pass could be the difference.
Team form and manager quotes:
The hosts haven’t been at their best of late, having come from behind to force a replay in a 1-1 FA Cup fourth-round draw with League Two side Newport County last weekend, after also drawing 1-1 in the league against both Southampton and West Ham before that, either side of a 4-0 win over Everton.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino knows his players need to step it up a few gears against United, although he admits to relishing the challenge against his opposite number Jose Mourinho.
“Of course at Wembley, against Manchester United, if you don’t compete at the same level as them, you’re going to struggle a bit,” he said.
“The team is going to be ready to compete, knowing it’s such an important game, that we can close the gap to second in table and put ourselves in a good position in the table. We are conscious of that.”
Mourinho’s men are on a run of five consecutive victories in all competitions since they drew to Southampton, albeit against weaker competition in struggling Everton, Derby County, Stoke City, Burnley and Yeovil Town.
“We have managed to win every match in January, I think three Premier League matches and two cup matches, so five victories makes a happy camp. We are playing with a good balance,” Mourinho said ahead of the Wembley showdown.
“Tottenham are one of the top teams in the country, not a title contender because they are too far away, but I say honestly they are a Champions League contender. They can reach that level.
“They have some of the best players in the country, a very good manager and are a very difficult opponent. It is a really big game.
“The difference between us and Spurs is seven or eight points, but the reality is they are a top team in terms of their quality and ambitions, and a team of our level, so it is a big match.”
Serge Aurier and Harry Winks remain sidelined, but Hugo Lloris, Danny Rose, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela were all back in training on Tuesday and in the Tottenham squad for Wednesday’s match.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Daley Blind and Eric Bailly are expected to be the visitors’ only injury absentees.