Manchester United will travel to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to take on Ange Postecoglou’s men in a game that is sure to be an attacking feast.
United won their last game 1-0 against Wolves but the performance would have given Erik ten Hag sleepless nights. Spurs, on the other hand, showed glimpses of the attacking potential Ange’s teams are famous for, but got done twice by Brentford to draw the game.
Fixtures between these two sides are always a great viewing experience and this time even more so due to the change in Spurs dugout.
Here are the top three things to watch out for in the game-
Make some space- Go vroom vroom!
On paper, Tottenham are undoubtedly a sterner opposition than Wolves. However, such is the tactical battle that Spurs will arguably present a better match for United than Wolves.
Ange Postecoglou’s tendency to push players forward will lead to space in behind, a joyful scenario for Marcus Rashford and Co. It is why Alejandro Garnacho might start this game despite a horrid time against Wolves.
Erik ten Hag has already said that he plans to make United the best transition team in the world as it also fits his players. Rashford is not great when he received the ball at his feet with his back to the goal. Long balls over the Spurs’ defence for the United attack to latch onto could be the perfect dose to get a win against them.
Casemiro on an island –> Loss guaranteed
A tactical quirk by Ten Hag against Wolves backfired spectacularly. He tried to create a “box midfield“, as explained by The People’s Person in a comprehensive manner.
Luke Shaw tried to invert, while Casemiro also was supported by Bruno Fernandes and Mason Mount.
In theory, it made a lot of sense to gain superiority in the middle. In practice, everyone looked clueless about their role.
Matheus Cunha made unchallenged runs through an empty midfield like he was on an evening stroll at Old Trafford. Shaw abandoned his inverted role after 30 minutes, Fernandes and Mount’s natural tendency to push forward left Casemiro on an island, all by himself.
A repeat against Spurs will guarantee a loss. James Maddison looks like a man reborn under Ange. He plays between the lines and already had two assists on his debut. If United empty their midfield again, they’ll be running all around the pitch tracking the runners while Maddison has his way with them with his incisive passes and finishing.
The unbeaten run vs Away woes
The last time United lost to Spurs was the infamous 1-6 loss at home to a gleeful Jose Mourinho team. Since then, Spurs’ fortunes have collapsed while United’s trajectory has been the other way.
United’s record against Spurs in their last five meetings reads- four wins and one draw.
Still, a game away at Spurs is always a tricky one to navigate. This being their first home game of the season, United can also expect a raucous atmosphere.
Moreover, United’s away woes last season were well-documented. Remarkably, even in a finish where they finished third, they took only one point away from home against opposition in the top nine of the Premier League.
Coincidentally, that was against Spurs, as Ryan Mason’s men came back from two goals down to draw 2-2.
A win away from home against a conventional “top-six” club is the natural next step in the mentality evolution of this United team. A big psychological barrier will be downed if United manage to win this. If not, then it’s one step forward, two steps back again.