Manchester United cruise into 5th with easy win over Tottenham
Manchester United vs Tottenham recap: The Red Devils dominated possession and, eventually, the scoreboard as they beat Spurs 2-0 at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
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Erik ten Hag’s side dominated proceedings for the entirety of the first half before Fred opened the scoring just two minutes after the restart. Bruno Fernandes curled home goal no. 2 midway through the second half to end his nine-game goal-less drought for Man United (all competitions).
The victory sends Man United (19 points) up to 5th in the Premier League table, now just one point behind 4th-place Chelsea and four back of 3rd-place Tottenham (23 points)
What we learned from Manchester United vs Tottenham
Man United’s best performance under Ten Hag?
It was a minor miracle that Tottenham found themselves level at halftime after facing wave after wave of red shirts converging on their penalty area. There wasn’t much space in behind as Spurs sat quite deep without the ball, but Fernandes looked (nearly) back to his best as he operated in the hole and found Antony and Jadon Sancho with clever passes and one-twos between and around the three-man backline. Hugo Lloris made a handful of saves to keep it scoreless for as long as he could, but the goal(s) felt inevitable from the start. After finding some success as a counter-attacking side in recent weeks, it was refreshing to see Manchester United perform so well with the onus of dictating the game squarely on their shoulders.
Spurs defense under constant pressure, attack generates very little
Just a week ago, I wrote this about Spurs’ defense coming under lots of relentless pressure, largely due to their insistence on passing the ball out of the back every time they restart with possession. With only Harry Kane and Son Heung-min up top as Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison are both injured, Tottenham are short on both pressure-releasing outlets and creative sparks. The midfield is lacking a ball-carrying creator as well, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma all shading far more toward defensive midfielder than no. 10. The wing backs are also falling well short when they join the attack. Ivan Perisic was signed to be the wily creative veteran at the position, but he’s ended far more promising attacks than he’s aided. In the end, Manchester United out-shot Tottenham by a margin of 28-9 (10-2 on target).
From last week’s conversation about Spurs…
Antonio Conte, on Spurs’ struggles against the Premier League’s top teams this season…
“We have to be honest and say that United deserved to win. From the start they showed much more than us. I try to analyze after the game with my players because I like to be really honest and in this season we have struggled a lot every time we have played games at a high level, against Chelsea, Arsenal and United.
“It means we must continue to work and to improve ourselves and to see if it is enough to play at this high level. There is only one way to try to work. The approach of the game, we were a bit scared and we showed this. I do not like this. The table is good for us but in our mind and the mind of our players we need the ambition to play this game in a different way, with more personality, to not miss stupid passes.”
How to watch Manchester United vs Tottenham live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 3:15 pm ET, WednesdayOnline: Stream via Peacock Premium
Key storylines & star players
Tottenham will be shorthanded in attack when they head to Manchester, with Richarlison joining Dejan Kulusevski on the injured list. Kulusevski hasn’t played since Sept. 17 (three games); Richarlison is expected to miss two weeks. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min will once again shoulder the load offensively, but it’ll be much tougher sledding without the graceful creativity and powerful dribbling of Kulusevski, or the tireless chasing and defensive work of Richarlison.
The gap between Man United and 4th-place Chelsea is currently three points, but the Blues have been buoyed by the appointment of Graham Potter, winning all three of their Premier League fixtures by a combined score of 7-1. Wednesday is Tottenham, Saturday is Chelsea. The true progress of Ten Hag will soon reveal itself.
Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Aaron Wan Bissaka (knock), Donny van de Beek (knock), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension - MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Christian Eriksen (illness), Anthony Martial (back)
Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Richarlison (calf), Emerson Royal (suspension), Japhet Tanganga (knock) | QUESTIONABLE: Dejan Kulusevski (thigh)