Opinion: The key Reds who can defeat Tottenham
Jose Mourinho has been busy preparing his Manchester United squad for tonight’s anticipated Premier League match against a Tottenham Hotspur team that the manager has plenty of respect for.
“With 18 goals in all competitions this season, the Belgian striker is comfortably our top scorer and he has built a promising run of form by scoring three times in his last four appearances. Always a powerful presence, his all-round play has impressed fans in recent weeks, particularly when bringing other team-mates into the attack and that’s an attribute that is often overlooked. The arrival of the warrior-like Alexis could inspire Lukaku’s best performances yet and, crucially, he was rested at Yeovil last Friday, only coming on for the final exchanges and grabbing a late goal with an accomplished finish. He is fresh and raring to go against a Tottenham side that could be missing Hugo Lloris and Toby Alderweireld.”
“After swerving the win at Yeovil, Anthony is fresh, on song and has form for both fixture and venue. He left the bench to score the winner against Spurs at Old Trafford back in October, and his superb January form – three goals in three starts – take him into this game on a high. History is also on Martial’s side at Wembley, with four wins from his four previous trips. He can look back on a last minute winner against Everton in the 2016 FA Cup semi-final, plus winner’s medals from the final, last season’s Community Shield and League Cup final.”
“Amid all the hullabaloo surrounding the arrival of Alexis Sanchez, Reds could be forgiven for forgetting that United already possess at least one very serviceable talisman: Paul Pogba. After a quiet Christmas, the Frenchman bounded into 2018 full of sparkle, gaining Man-of-the-Match awards against both Everton and Stoke. The midfielder assisted four of United’s five goals across those two matches, and will need to be at somewhere approaching his best if United are to gain the upper hand against Dembele, Dier, Wanyama and whoever else might staff Tottenham’s always-aggressive midfield unit. Pogba invariably adds a unique creative flair, but his strength and willingness to hustle will be equally vital tonight.”
Next up, Spurs! Gallery
United have stepped up preparations for the trip to Wembley Stadium.
“There was just something about his debut in the FA Cup fourth-round win at Yeovil Town that promised so much. In a word, it was exciting. The chance to witness the Chilean potentially linking up with Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard for the first time is one that must have most Reds salivating. Spurs are formidable opponents and pride themselves on having a resolute defence, but any breakaway raid with Alexis at the heart of it, as he showed for Ander Herrera’s strike at Huish Park, is one that will strike fear into the Londoners. I wouldn’t put it past him to score on his league debut with United – against a side who are Arsenal’s fiercest rivals and at a stadium where he usually performs so well.”
“One of the success stories of the season so far, the livewire attacker made it nine goals in his last 13 outings after he replaced Alexis for the latter stages of the victory at Huish Park. Jesse has staked a more than credible claim for the Reds' coveted central playmaker role in recent weeks, with some increasingly mature and complete performances, and I feel he's another Red who will only benefit from the introduction of Alexis to the team. Add into the mix his enviable record at Wembley – he's scored in his last three appearances there – and you have all the ingredients for another telling contribution from our in-form no.14 tonight.”
“United have been defensively solid in recent weeks, keeping six successive clean sheets in all competitions, and that impressive record will face a stern test against an attack-minded Spurs side packed full of quality. Our no.12 will have his hands full keeping his England colleague Harry Kane quiet, with the striker in red-hot form having struck 34 goals for club and country already this season, including six in his last four outings. This particular duel could prove decisive in the final outcome, but Smalling has proved on many occasions he is up to the task of dealing with world-class attackers and, after being rested for Friday’s FA Cup win at Yeovil, he’ll be relishing the challenge that awaits.
Tottenham v United kicks off at 20:00 GMT and MUTV's live build-up begins at 18:00.