Another weekend of Premier League is upon us and the first fixture of the weekend is without the question the biggest as second in the table plays host to third. Neither Manchester United or Tottenham can afford to drop points as they bid to stay on the coat tails of leaders Manchester City.
It’s not been the best few days for Tottenham after their defeat in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday to local rivals West Ham and it’s a period of time that would have not got any better with the loss of Harry Kane to injury this week.
The England international pulled up in the 88th minute of Tottenham’s impressive win over Liverpool last Sunday in what was the only blot on Spurs copybook that afternoon and now the in form striker faces a race to be fit for the visit of Real Madrid next Wednesday.
Both teams had contrasting fortunes in midweek cup action but the same can also be said for their Premier League exploits last weekend. Manchester United lost further ground to their crosstown rivals after a shock defeat to Huddersfield, a defeat that coupled with Tottenham’s win sees the two clubs level on points.
There has been a marked change in Manchester United as of late, they started the season as a swashbuckling red machine but the last two league matches has seen them pick up only one point. Admittedly the point was earned by virtue of parking the bus at Anfield but did that lead to a hangover in Huddersfield last weekend.
If it did then it is one that Jose Mourinho is going to have to make sure that his players shake off, although their task would have undoubtedly been made easier when the confirmation that Kane would not feature came through on early Friday afternoon.
Tottenham have been light at left back over the past few weeks with a number of different personnel and systems being utilised as Ben Davies has been ill and Danny Rose long term injured, it was the latter that was subject to interest from United in the Summer and it is something that has not subsided, could this be the game in which Rose makes his Premier League return.
On the evidence of Wednesday’s run out against West Ham you would have to say no what with the player still lacking fitness. That said do not be surprised to see him named on the bench and given a handful of minutes to increase his sharpness.
The absence of Kane means that we are deprived the battle of himself and Romelu Lukaku in a bid to add to their already impressive goalscoring tallies. It could however give the Belgian international the perfect opportunity in which to wrestle back top spot after being demoted to second in the scorers charts last weekend.
We will however have the battle of the Belgians as Lukaku is set to go up against international teammates Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. They are obviously familiar to how the other plays but who will come out on top come early Saturday afternoon.
United were certainly not on top last weekend as their centre back pairing of Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling were made to look incredibly ordinary by a Huddersfield team that had not won any of their last six Premier League outings.
Whether this means United are going to be a wounded beast this lunchtime remains to be seen but you can bet a pound to a penny that Jose Mourinho will not allow the same kind of performance two weeks in a row, perhaps you could argue three.
By the same token Tottenham were more than grateful for the shambles which was Dejan Lovren last weekend, 3-1 up by half time and the Croatian international would not even be on the pitch by the time Dele Alli had reestablished Spurs two goal advantage.
This might be the best spectacle if the offering from a fortnight is anything to go by but it might be a day for pragmatism rather than performance, a statement you could make for both sides. That said I think it will be the home side who will earn all three points. Manchester United win for me.
Here is what social media thinks will happen – you can still vote on the outcome
Time for some weekend Premier League scientific polls
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) October 27, 2017