Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur: Three players who must start

by Leo Nieboer

Manchester United take on Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday for a place in the FA Cup semi final.

And with top four all but guaranteed, nobody can deny that this is by far and away the biggest game of Man United’s season.

They won this trophy just two years ago under Louis van Gaal, while Spurs haven’t been in an FA Cup since the days of Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker.

Here are three players Jose Mourinho must start against Mauricio Pochettino’s men at Wembley on Saturday afternoon.

Marcus Rashford

It has been rumoured that the 20-year-old, following a bright performance against AFC Bournemouth, will take the place of Alexis Sanchez on the left hand side against Spurs.

And this makes plenty of sense. The staccato influence of Alexis could come in handy later on in the game when gaps start to open up, but Mourinho will be aware of his side’s need to match the intensity and sheer running power of Spurs. Rashford can provide this in abundance, staying tight to the left wing and taking on Ben Davies, bringing United up the pitch in a way they have struggled away to Pochettino’s teams.

Ander Herrera

The Spaniard was another who played his way into the semi-final with a masterfully tenacious display on the South coast. His attitude from start to finish was impeccable, like a man whose life depended on winning the midfield battle.

He was not included at Wembley in January and the midfield pivot of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba was overrun to devastating effect. United just never looked in the game. Having Herrera in the middle of the park breaking up play and giving the Frenchman a chance to surge forward feels mandatory against Spurs’ tendency to break quickly through the middle.

Eric Bailly

United’s defensive pairing of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling were undone, twisted and embarrassed within 11 seconds the last time they played Spurs. Needless to say, it set a precedent for the game.

Mourinho has rested Bailly since the derby and you can only hope the boss will unleash him – namely that uniquely barbaric yet controlled way of defending – on Harry Kane.

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