Manchester United will want to continue their recent good form when they host Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on New Year’s Day.
United have been impressive in recent weeks having won six games on the spin in all competitions after a tough few weeks and victories over Hull and Norwich respectively over the festive period have seen David Moyes’ side steadily move up the table and edge closer to the top.
Spurs will be the sternest test United have faced in recent weeks and have experienced an upturn in fortunes of their own since replacing Andre Villas-Boas with Tim Sherwood earlier in the month, something that has seen the adoption of a more expressive style of play.
Since taking over officially, Sherwood has guided Spurs to a draw against West Brom and a comfortable victory most recently at home to Stoke City and a 3-2 win over Southampton in their last away game.
Moyes should welcome back talisman Wayne Rooney to the starting XI after he missed Saturday’s victory over Norwich at Carrow Road. Antonio Valencia is also available after serving a one game suspension but Phil Jones, Rafael, Nani, Maroaune Fellaini and Robin van Persie are all likely to be absent through injury.
Spurs meanwhile have a mounting injury list with Andros Townsend, Jan Verthongen and Younes Kaboul ruled out. Jermain Defoe is a doubt along with Aaron Lennon and Moussa Dembele, both of which got on the score sheet against Stoke City at the weekend.
Both sides have identical records from their 19 Premier League games this season (ten wins, 4 draws, 5 defeats) and are only separated by United’s superior goal difference. There was little between the two sides in the reverse fixture this season in an exciting 2-2 draw in which the Reds went behind twice to goals from Kyle Walker and Sandro but Wayne Rooney turned it around twice with a brace.
The draw at White Hart Lane in November was Spurs’ third without defeat against United. Nevertheless, the North London based outfit have won just one of their last 25 league games against the Reds and the victory at Old Trafford last September was their first in 21 attempts in the Premier League era.
Spurs and United games are usually chock full of expansive play and end-to-end football and with AVB’s pragmatic 4-3-3 making way for Sherwood’s more open style of play, there could be plenty of goals when the two sides meet.
Rooney has nine Premier League goals against Spurs to his name including seven in his last six starts and his return from injury, coupled with the likely inclusion of Danny Welbeck who was the difference maker in United’s last league outing against Norwich, could tip the balance in the favour of the home side, who seem to be full of confidence at the moment.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-2 Spurs