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Make Or Break Time! Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur
After a comfortable mid-week victory over Swansea City in the Carabao Cup, Manchester United are set to host Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford.
This is a must-win for United, a real chance to regain some of the momentum and confidence that has been completely wiped out of the Red Devils, after a series of injuries to key players and a run of poor performances against Liverpool, Benfica and an embarrassing loss to Huddersfield Town.
This game offers so much for Jose Mourinho as well as the players. For Jose Mourinho, it's a great chance to break out of his defensive style tactics that he's so famous for and really put pressure in an attacking sense against a top team. For the players, it's about showing the heart, passion and never say die attitude that is bound so tightly throughout the club's history.
This really is make or break time for Manchester United. a win and it will prove that they are contenders to win the league and that they can get the job done and take three points off the top six teams. A draw or a loss could see Man United take a turn for the worse.
Manchester United's Possible Starting Line Up
Although Jose Mourinho implemented a 3-4-1-2 formation against Swansea City mid-week, it doesn't seem likely that Jose will set the team up in that formation again, especially with the lack of depth in the midfield that United currently have.
If there's one Goalkeeper to stop Harry Kane, it's David De Gea. After his incredible save against Liverpool to deny Joel Matip, Tottenham may need something special to beat arguably the best keeper in the world.
Antonio Valencia will surely be starting in the right back position accompanied by the captain's armband. His pace and leadership will definitely be needed against an in from Spurs side. His overlapping runs could be a huge part of United's play.
Phil Jones should be set to return to the pitch after being taken off early against Huddersfield Town on the weekend. With the possibility that Eric Bailly is fit and ready we could also see his return, if not it wouldn't be a surprise to see Chris Smalling start alongside Phil Jones.
Daley Blind starting in the left back position is definitely not a given, however out of the choices Mourinho has, Blind is by far the best option. After a good performance against Swansea mid-week, it wouldn't be a shock to see Blind starting behind Rashford.
The midfield duo of Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera will continue as Paul Pogba, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini are still out injured. Hopefully, this is the game where Herrera and Matic can finally put the pieces together and find what works for them as a partnership. Last year's fixture Ander Herrera was by far the best player on the pitch, let's hope to see another great performance from the Spaniard.
Expect Henrikh Mkhitaryan to start behind Romelu Lukaku in the number 10 position, when United and Spurs faced off last season at Old Trafford it was Mkhitaryan's lone goal in the first half that saw United pick up the three points. Hopefully, Mkhitaryan can return to his previous form that we saw at the start of the season, creating chances, assisting goals and being one of United's all-around best players on the pitch.
Juan Mata starting on the right side of midfield may not be an ideal choice, however, Mata's ability to cut inside on his left foot leaves space in behind the defence for Valencia to overlap and hopefully send in some deadly crosses for the likes of Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford and of course Romelu Lukaku.
Marcus Rashford on the left side of the midfield could really cause Spurs damage. His pace and confidence when going against defenders could lead to being one of the biggest impacts of the game, especially if United are playing on the counter-attack. Rashford's defensive capabilities may also see him get the edge over Anthony Martial.
Romelu Lukaku up front. There's no doubt Lukaku will be looking for a goal since he hasn't scored in four games in all competitions.
It's a very basic lineup for Man United that we've seen before, and it's a lineup that has definitely not shown United at their strongest this season. There's no doubt that Tottenham's manager Mauricio Pochettino knows that.Jose has been favouring the 4-2-3-1 formation for a while now and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him have an answer for it if United do indeed lineup that way.
Use What Worked Before
When Manchester United stood victorious over Tottenham Hotspur last season at Old Trafford, Spurs were left to take the majority of possession and United happily waited on the counter-attack. The pace of Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan cut through Tottenham and got United the only goal of the game. Using the same strategy as last season may work in United's favour once again, especially if Marcus Rashford starts on the left instead of Martial.
This is definitely not a game where United need to be overly defensive, nor does it need to be the opposite in an all-out attack. Mourinho found the perfect balance last year and United might be able to do it again.
Rashford On Set Pieces
This may be a bit of a stretch but it's clear to see that Marcus Rashford has been very consistent when taking set pieces this season, whether it's a free kick or a corner Rashford has been able to whip the ball into the box and find success. With corners being a weak spot for United putting Rashford on set pieces may see United get a goal or even two.
With both teams currently joint second in the Premier League and both teams looking for momentum, this game shouldn't disappoint. With two of the best Goalkeepers in the Premier League and two of the best strikers in the Premier League, it will be interesting to see what the scoreline will be after ninety minutes.
What Will Be The Result?
© 2017 Ethan Black