Prediction: Tottenham vs Manchester United

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Verdict: Draw

Best Odds: 12/5

Bookmakers: Bet 365

Top four hopefuls Tottenham welcome second place Manchester United to Wembley for a monumental Wednesday evening Premier League clash. Spurs can leapfrog Liverpool and claim fourth spot with a win here, assuming the Reds lose away at Huddersfield. United meanwhile look unlikely to catch their City rivals before the season ends, but they too will want a positive result in order to maintain their lead over Chelsea.

Tottenham

Unfortunately for Mauricio Pochettino this season seems to be a simple case of Tottenham standing fairly still while the teams around them bolster and improve their squads. Spurs made limited additions in the summer, opting instead to trust their team chemistry. While there is a certain degree of sense in that approach, especially with their ability to lean on the remarkable Harry Kane, it is clear that the North London club are starting to fall behind somewhat. They currently find themselves fifth in the Premier League table, two points behind fourth place Liverpool.

With just one defeat at home this season, and none last season, Tottenham have managed to turn White Hart Lane, and now Wembley, into fortresses, giving them a good degree of success. They have also conceded just 22 times in 24 games, as well as scoring 47 goals. The stats all suggest that Spurs are having a great season, but they have registered a number of costly draws against the likes of Swansea and West Brom. Until they can finish off teams like these Tottenham may struggle to climb much higher.

Team News

In defence both Serge Aurier and Toby Alderweireld look set to miss this game with calf and hamstring injuries respectively. Huge Lloris should return in net for Spurs after recovering from illness.

Elsehwere Harry Winks’ ankle issue will keep him out until February, but Christian Eriksen will return after a two-game absence due to a virus.

Manchester United

Jose Mourinho has been doing a good job this season, grinding out results as he has always done, while adding some emphatic score lines to boot, especially earlier in the season. With 49 goals scored, Manchester United represent the third highest scoring team in the league, as well as the best defensive side with just 16 conceded. Unfortunately their City rivals have been doing even better under Pep Guardiola, and that has somewhat overshadowed the relative success that Mourinho has brought about during this campaign.

That isn’t to say that their season has been plain sailing however, and Romelu Lukaku in particular is a good example to the contrary. The Belgian striker has scored 11 league goals this season, but has rarely looked convincing enough to be the starting goal scorer for such a huge team. The addition of Alexis Sanchez in the January transfer window, as well as the emergence of Jesse Lingard as a supreme goal threat, should go a long way to ensuring that they wrap up second spot in the league however.

Team News

Jose Mourinho is still without first choice central defender Eric Bailly due to an ankle injury, while Daley Blind is also a doubt due to a knock.

Elsehwere only Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains an injury doubt having not fully recovered from his serious knee injury last season.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Tottenham have conceded just 22 goals in 24 league games this season.
  • Spurs have also lost just once at home during this campaign, and went unbeaten at home last season.
  • Manchester United have the joint best defensive record in the Premier League this season.
  • The Red Devils have also lost just three games during this campaign, the second fewest in the league.
  • Jose Mourinho has become famous for playing for draws away from home against the big sides.

Conclusion

A big game deserves a bold prediction, and a draw certainly constitutes just that. Tottenham have been defensively sound this season, as have Manchester United, and a big occasion such as this often results in neither side wanting to lose, rather than going for the win. With Mourinho in charge an away draw is fairly commonplace, and I expect United to have a plan regarding Harry Kane.

Verdict: Draw

Best Odds: 12/5

Bookmakers: Bet 365

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