Fan Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United

Man United, the current league leaders, come to White Hart Lane on Sunday for one of the season’s glamour games. Take note those with a strict pre match routine, it’s a ten past four kick bizarrely.

Our encounter earlier in the season at Old Trafford ended in farce of course when a combination of Clattenburg incompetence, Gomes eccentricity and the cheating Nani led to the late second and killer goal in a 2-0 loss. We’d already given away a soft goal when Vidic was allowed a virtually free header in the box in the first half so not for the first time a lot of pre-match bluster in this fixture wasn’t matched on the field when it mattered.

There’ll be similar stuff this time round. The normal ‘we can beat anyone at the Lane’, ‘we’ve no reason to be afraid’ rhetoric will appear but in your mind’s eye you can see Fletcher, Carrick and Scholes dominating in the centre, Bale and Lennon isolated on the wings, Dawson and Kaboul/Gallas being overwhelmed and Ferdinand and Vidic putting a cigar on as Defoe moves deeper and deeper in search of the ball.

Personally if I were offered a draw, I’d hesitate for a second but then probably take it. Of course we can win but to do so we’d have to play at our very best and United would have to take their eye off the ball, an unlikely scenario. People say they’ve not been playing well, but they’re 20 games unbeaten and that doesn’t happen by accident. They’ll target our most productive players. Attempting to kick Bale out of the game is slowly becoming a national sport and there’s no reason to believe that Rafael and whoever plays in front of him won’t join in. Modric will be similarly treated.

So how do we counteract what’s put in front of us? How do we impose ourselves to an extent where Modric, VdV and Bale become the outstanding attacking influences? Well in midfield most importantly. Palacios will probably start with Modric (especially after Jenas’s largely anonymous display at Goodison) and he needs to show the form he displayed against Chelsea and Villa. Lennon and/or Bale need to tuck inside and support the middle two. At the back Dawson and whoever plays with him have to be all over Berbatov and Rooney and refuse to give them time to play in Nani or Park and other runners. Up front Defoe and VdV should work the centre backs and force the full backs into coming and helping them.

Do all this for ninety minutes, non-stop whilst ignoring whatever cunning scheme designed to thwart us the ref comes up with this time and three points could be ours. We’ll have certainly given our best. Turn up stretched across the middle from the word go and we’ll be playing into their hands.

By MF

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