By John Ryan
- Manchester United face Tottenham in the final competitive game to be played at White Hart Lane
Tottenham versus Manchester United is a game that had historically set the blood racing. Traditionally both sides play good football and throughout the 1980’s and early part of the 1990’s both were kings of cup competitions.
At the end of the 1990/91 season both clubs brought a trophy to White Hart Lane where they played out an entertaining one all draw while a year later at Old Trafford saw Gary Lineker’s final game in English football.
Certainly down through the years fixtures between the clubs have seen goals and brought a sense of occasion.
Goodbye To White Hart Lane
This fixture will be Tottenham’s last at White Hat Lane.
Playing there since 1899 perhaps it is fitting that Manchester United are their final opponents there. Games between the sides especially in the Premier League era have been full of drama and fast flowing football.
In December 1998 Manchester United raced into a two goal lead but Sol Campbell had other ideas heading twice in the last twenty minutes as Spurs denied United an away win.
In the same season Spurs were the team who denied United a possible quadruple winning 3-1 in a League Cup quarter final. Spurs went on to win the League Cup while United swept the board with everything else.
Possibly the most famous Premier League fixture between the sides on this ground came in September 2001.
Spurs raced into a three goal lead and at half time it was said one fan placed 10,000 pounds on the home side to win at odds of 1/100. What he didn’t know was that in the dressing room Alex Ferguson was telling United to ‘just get the next goal’ and with five different scorers and stunning football United ran out comfortable winners.
Tottenham Looking To Finish On A High
Going into this game Spurs will want to win for two reasons.
Obviously with this being their last game at the Lane they will want to send their fans home happy. But now that Chelsea are confirmed champions a win in this game cements Spurs as the runners up.
Their home record this season has been nothing short of superb with just four points dropped in eighteen games.
They cannot however match the record set by Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in 2011 or Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2006 who both took an astonishing fifty two out of fifty four possible points at home.
Not surprising both sides were champions in the years mentioned. At home Spurs have scored an average of five goals every two games and have conceded just eight goals there all season.
On the road Manchester United have taken a decent points total with thirty four but this looks like a step too far for United this season.
Top Four Gone For Mourinho
Mourinho has guided United to the Europa League final.
Sitting in sixth position, realistically he now needs Arsenal and Liverpool to drop points and United to win all three remaining games in order to finish in the top four.
Alternatively he can focus on one game against Ajax on May 24th to win the Europa League and qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Given the number of games in April and May so far it would make sense to take the second option.
Manchester United will still likely be competitive on Sunday but with the home side playing for pride an away win is unlikely.
Mourinho seems nervous about playing the likes of Pogba and Rashford who are potential match winners in Sweden.
Expect Mourinho To Make Wholesale Changes Once Again
Mauricio Pochettino can call on almost a full squad for this game. Spurs do not have anyone suspended and long term injuries Eric Lamela and Harry Winks were never likely to feature.
Danny Rose may be in a position to play but that apart it is likely Spurs will field a very strong team.
Who Mourinho deploys is anyone’s guess. If he resorts to putting out a weakened side that will no doubt land him in hot water so a mixture of experience and youth may be sent out in this game.
Away from home against the top six teams this season United have struggled.
Draws against Liverpool and Chelsea were as good as it got as United were hammered at Chelsea and lost a long unbeaten run at Arsenal last week.
It is unlikely that things will get any better in this fixture. For now Manchester United fans will have to accept the manager’s focus is on the Stockholm showpiece on May 24th and hope that next season’s results will be better.
Pochettino’s men have been rampaging all season.
Whether playing three or four at the back their wide players have got at the opposition. Dele Alli who starred for MK Dons in a 4-0 thrashing of United in August 2014 has netted twenty one goals this season and has been crowned PFA young player of the year.
Harry Kane has netted twenty seven goals in all competitions while Son Heung-min has plundered nineteen.
Gone are the days when a Manchester United manager could say ‘it’s only Tottenham’. This is as formidable a Premier League team as Spurs have ever produced.
This could be a difficult afternoon’s work for United and a draw would be an excellent result.
Verdict: Tottenham 2-0 Manchester United