Tottenham v Manchester United: Mourinho's men can keep Red Devils in-check
Tottenham and Manchester United return to Premier League action on Friday night and Mark O'Haire previews what should be an enthralling encounter.
Tottenham v Manchester United Friday June 19, 20:15 Sky Sports
Key players return for Spurs
It's been a tumultuous campaign for Tottenham this term and Spurs resume Premier League action languishing in mid-table, seven points adrift of a top-four finish. Prior to the enforced COVID-19 shutdown, Jose Mourinho's men were struggling with key injuries, had suffered a chastening Champions League exit courtesy of RB Leipzig and were shipping goals for fun.
However, Tottenham have had time to refresh and regroup with the long lay-off allowing key players such as Harry Kane, Heung-min Son, Steven Bergwijn, Moussa Sissoko, Ben Davies and Juan Foyth to return to full fitness. The mini pre-season should also have allowed Mourinho the time to implement key ideas, team shape and defensive structure.
Unfortunately for Spurs, Dele Alli will be suspended for Friday night's fixture at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The England international joins Japhet Tanganga and Troy Parrett on the unavailable list for the hosts.
Rashford and Pogba back in the fold
There was evidence to suggest that Manchester United were beginning to get their act together before the suspension of the Premier League. Following a foul home loss against Burnley in mid-January, the Red Devils have beaten Manchester City twice, and restart the campaign unbeaten across 11 league and cup matches (W8-D3-L0).
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's outfit are now just three points shy of the Champions League qualification places and come into this contest with almost a full squad available. Phil Jones is the only potential absentee after sitting out a recent training match with both Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba now set to return to the United fold following injury.
Star January signing, Bruno Fernandes is expected to line-up behind Anthony Martial and Rashford in a 3-4-1-2 system. Elsewhere, Odion Ighalo has extended his loan deal until January 2021 and will likely take up a place on the bench alongside Pogba.
Tottenham have lost their last two Premier League games against Manchester United although last season's 1-0 home reverse was Spurs' first defeat in seven (W3-D1-L1) when entertaining the Red Devils in league action.
Tottenham3.05 have tended to fall short against the top-seven this term, picking up two triumphs from 11 against the leading lights (W2-D2-L7). Spurs have kept just four clean sheets and averaged a measly 12.10 shots on average, highlighting concerns in both boxes. But Jose Mourinho's men look a touch overpriced here despite diminishing home advantage.
Manchester United2.50finally appeared to be hitting their straps before the break. The Red Devils shutout nine of their 11 opponents during their unbeaten run (W8-D3-L0), scoring twice or more on seven occasions. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's group have also made a habit of upsetting the league's elite in 2019/20, earning W6-D5-L2 against the top-nine.
Oppose goals in capital contest
The market is slightly favouring Over 2.5 Goals1.91, a low-scoring showdown shouldn't be dismissed. Tottenham's three tussles here under Jose Mourinho against Big Six opposition have all fallen below the line and the Portuguese boss is renowned for his pragmatic approach in high-stakes matches throughout his managerial career.
Meanwhile, Man Utd have crossed the Over 2.5 Goals barrier in only three of their 14 away Premier League days this season, including three of four trips to the Big Six. With that in mind, plus the Red Devils' paucity for away victories - four in 14 - I'm happy to go against the grain and support Spurs in the Double Chance market and Under 3.5 Goals at 2.10.