In the Monday night fixture of matchweek three in the Premier League, Tottenham take on the red side of Manchester at Old Trafford. This is the sort of game where Spurs could shred the ‘Lads, it’s Tottenham’ moniker and emerge as an immense force in English football, but so far Pochettino’s side have fallen hort each time throughout his reign. If they lose again Monday night it will not be the first time it has happened at the hands of José Mourinho.
Spurs will come in to the match as the neutrals choice after United’s lacklustre loss to Brighton. They are the first team up to hammer a nail into Mourinho’s third season coffin at United. However, as last season’s FA Cup semi-final demonstrated Pochettino is still a notch below serial winning managers, and whether that is just a perception or not a win on this occasion will shift that view. That is just the narrative going into Tottenham’s first big clash of the season, of course. What actually matters is how both sides will match up on the night.
Even though they are playing away at a top 6 side Spurs philosophy is unlikely to change. Spurs’ will probably revert to the attacking 4-3-3 formation they have started the season so well in, and was the formation that ignited their comeback against Fulham on Saturday. 4-3-3 seems to be a system that massively benefits Dele Alli, who has been excellent operating from the left hand side. The Spurs attacker found joy against both right fullbacks he has come up against this season, and with United’s defensive woes so far his form could continue.
The midfield contest could see an intriguing individual match up between Paul Pogba and Mousa Dembélé. Last season the two matched up against each other twice, both times at Wembley, with Pogba coming out on top in the fixture that ultimately mattered; the FA Cup semi-final. Whether or not Pogba can perform could be the deciding factor in the midfield battle, as Mousa Dembélé has proven he can dominate the World Cup winner.
Ultimately this match provides an opportunity for both sides. United and Mourinho can show they are not going through the third season implosion most opposition fans are banking on. Tottenham and Pochettino can show they aren’t the serial bottlers of old. My head is telling me it will be a boring match, the sort that goes last on Match of the Day, with United winning 1-0, a bit like last season’s game at Old Trafford. However, I will predict a 2-1 Tottenham win much like the last game they won away to United in 2014.
Predicted line-up – 4-3-3
Trippier – Alderweireld – Vertonghen – Davies
Eriksen – Dier – Dembélé
Lucas – Kane – Dele