Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur: Back Jose for a successful Old Trafford return
Tottenham are seeking their third successive Premier League victory at Manchester United on Wednesday night, and Alan Dudman is firmly with the Special One to make a winning return at Old Trafford...
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur
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Lack of control still a cause for concern for Ole
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he wasn't too concerned by his team's league position following Sunday's 2-2 home draw with Aston Villa. If the current perch of ninth doesn't stir some worrying thoughts, then surely the run of 18 points from 14 games should. That total is the fewest after 14 games in the top-flight since 1988-89 for the Reds.
The first half performance against Dean Smith's side at Old Trafford highlighted once again how open Solskjaer's team can be. They failed to gain control of the game in the opening 45, which allowed the visitors to counter-attack at will. Whilst the second period produced an improved performance, the defending for the Tyrone Mings goal was poor. The Manchester Evening News didn't pull any punches with their player ratings for the game.
With a lack of control and composure prominent in both Sunday's match and the erratic 3-3 at Sheffield United, I am far from convinced that a midfield duo of Fred and Andreas Pereira is the answer, so the news that Scott McTominay could shake off an ankle injury will be most welcome. The Scot has missed the last three games but reports on Monday evening were suggesting he'll be fit.
He'll need to be with Jose Mourinho's entertainers in town.
Mourinho's entertainers scoring and winning
Mourinho cut a fairly gloomy figure in the final months of his spell in charge at the Old Trafford club - something that Solskjaer has inherited along with some under-performing players.
The 56-year-old Portuguese gave an upbeat interview to the BBC following Saturday's 3-2 win against Bournemouth - even with a bit of the old magic back by saying there were more reasons for the fans to love him.
What sort of reception he'll receive from the home faithful on Wednesday night will be interesting. It's a box office game, and this is the big ticket for the midweek round of fixtures. Exactly what Mourinho likes, the stage he craves.
The success against the Cherries moved Spurs to fifth in the league - thanks to scoring three again in a match. The latest goalfest added to the four against Olympiakos and three against West Ham. Victory on Wednesday evening for the "Special One" will create history - he'll become the first ever boss to win his first three games in charge of a Premier League club.
Back Jose for fourth win on the spin
I've had some rather lop-sided markets to deal with (rather unsuccessfully) in my Premier League previews of late. Everton were 1.31 against Norwich and lost. While Chelsea were installed at around 1.40 against West Ham - a side who had previously shown nothing and yet the Blues lost too. The Hammers were much better thanks to the inclusion of a rookie keeper and another long odds-on favourite was chinned.
Wednesday's market is more conventional, but just as difficult to unpick. United have their faults, which is why they are not even favourites for the match at 2.82. The recent revival for the north Londoners prompted the Monday layers for the Match Odds to go in at around 2.70, and both offer a bit of value.
Spurs have won three consecutive matches for the first time since April and their victory at the London Stadium against the Hammers meant they had picked up as many points in that game as they had in their previous 12 matches on the road (W0 D3 L9).
From the Villa draw, Solksjaer once again voiced his displeasure that the game was too open for his liking. The natural instinct for the Norwegian could be to revert back to keeping the match tight - but with Mourinho in town, that approach won't go down well with the Old Trafford fans.
The fact the hosts have kept just two clean sheets all season (against Chelsea and Leicester) should give hope to Tottenham backers at 2.70. The Opta stats are also encouraging with the idea of playing at that price: as Manchester United have lost three of their last seven home league matches with Spurs.
This could also be a lively match for in-play layers and backers looking to take an early position. Both of these teams have dropped 12 points from winning positions this term, with only Villa losing more (13). With the initial prices so close, an early goal could create quite a shift in odds.
I am behind a win for Spurs here, but if you are a layer, on the flip side you can take on both Home and Draw in the Double Chance market at 1.60.
Layers expecting goals for Wednesday
Backers will be after the Clean Sheet markets for both the hosts and Spurs given their propensity to concede. Mourinho's side may well have scored ten in their previous three matches, but they have also shipped two in each of their last three, which makes the Over 3.5 and 4.5 worth looking at. Something Jamie Pacheco has highlighted in his Something For Midweek column (click here to read).
With 14 let in on the road, the 'No' price for a Tottenham clean sheet will be short enough. Likewise the Red Devils - who have kept only two defensive shutouts in their last 25 matches. A fairly damning stat.
If those prices are a little too short, one bet that stands out is the Tottenham to win Half Time one. Mourinho has overseen a couple of high-intensity starts in the league, which perhaps explains the late goals and a little tiredness creeping in (storming to a 3-0 lead in both PL matches). They scored on 36 minutes against West Ham and 21 with Bournemouth.
The 3.30 to win the Half Time bet looks very tempting. I was expecting 3.10 for that.
The press and media have latched onto Deli Alli's return to scoring form - and it's a predictable link to marry that upturn with the arrival of the "Entertaining One" to create a perfect headline, but the midfielder had been improving prior to the change in manager.
Alli is certainly in form, and he could find plenty of space behind the United midfield with his creativity - and the "tridente" alongside Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min is one of the most potent around. Alli has been directly involved in three goals in his last two Premier League matches - which is as many as he had in his final 12 appearances under Mauricio Pochettino.
The midfielder will have plenty of backers at 4.50 in the To Score market, with Son at 3.00 and Kane his usual 2.30 - such is his reliability.
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