Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur kick off in pivotal English Premier League action on Sunday afternoon. Both teams are in the battle for Champions League places as United enter a critical spell in Louis Van Gaal’s first season in charge at Old Trafford
Van Gaal has endured an up and down first season in charge of Man Utd to say the least. His team currently holds onto fourth place in the EPL table, but after losing to Arsenal in the FA Cup on Monday, only a top four finish in the league can ensure that Van Gaal’s first season in charge is any more memorable than that of his predecessor. The pivotal stretch of games is now upon him. After this afternoon’s game, United will play Liverpool (A), Aston Villa (H), Manchester City (H) and Chelsea (A). Van Gaal’s side probably needs at least seven points from those five games to stay in control of their own destiny in the race for Champions League places.
On Sunday he’ll have to manage it without some key players. Angel Di Maria is suspended and Robin Van Persie is injured. Jonny Evans is also suspended. Wayne Rooney is expected to spearhead the attack and will need to inspire his side in this game to ensure that Man Utd do not sustain a bad defeat.
Mauricio Pochettino is also at a pivotal point in his season in charge of a new club. Currently placed sixth and with the Champions League still in sight, Pochettino’s side have work to do after the disappointment of losing in the League Cup final, and also getting knocked out of the Europa League.
They enter this game with a fully fit squad and on the back of consecutive EPL wins over QPR and Swansea City. They should enter this game with plenty of confidence. Spurs have won their last two trips to Old Trafford and are actually unbeaten in this head-to-head matchup since losing 3-1 at White Hart Lane in March 2012. Harry Kane is on absolute fire with 26 goals already this season and Tottenham have actually managed to build a well-balanced side.
Betting Preview: Man Utd win 19/20, Tottenham win 3/1, Draw 11/4
Van Gaal’s team propelled itself into the top four with some ugly wins. They still haven’t truly played good football for a consistent stretch of games and the absences of Di Maria and Van Persie are big for this team. The jury is definitely still out for Van Gaal and his performance at Old Trafford. There’s no jury out on Kane, who will surely be looking forward to the prospect of going up against this United defense. Tottenham have form, confidence, are a good matchup here and should come out on top.
The Pick: Tottenham 3/1