Man Utd v Tottenham – Preview

Tottenham head for Old Trafford on Monday evening seeking to continue their winning start to the new season against a home side under pressure after a cumbersome loss at Brighton.

The pressure should be squarely on Jose Mourinho and his team, while the visitors from north London ought to be sensing a great chance to twist the knife on a top-four rival in the first month of the season – a six-point lead over the Red Devils in August isn’t to be sniffed at.

Tottenham have a poor record at Old Trafford. Oh so very poor, in fact. Their 21 defeats at Old Trafford is the most by any away team at a single stadium in Premier League history. That is more than mediocre, it is tantamount to pre-game surrender. Spurs have a mental block inside the Theatre Of Dreams, it appears.

They’ve lost five on the spin at this venue, without scoring at all in their last four. For Mauricio Pochettino, like the club, this place is loathsome.

Yet Tottenham are as short as 3.05 to earn a victory in this Monday night clash. On the statistics, two wins in 26, they ought to be a double figure price.

There are some interesting side-stats to this meeting. Travelling from London to Old Trafford, despite the home sides’ recent travails, remains a rather fruitless pursuit.

No London team has won away against Man United in the Premier League since Spurs’ victory on New Year’s Day 2014. In that time, London clubs have taken just seven points from a possible 66 at Old Trafford. Remarkable.

The Red Devils have lost only two of their 37 league encounters on their own patch but their next defeat will be a landmark one, the 50th Old Trafford reverse of the Premier League era.

Thirty one per-cent of those defeats have happened since Sir Alex Ferguson left as manager – on a quick summary; that is 31 per-cent of the losses in around 23 per-cent of the qualifying games (six seasons).

So, what of this fixture, where United are favourites to win at 2.50 and the draw is priced at 3.05.

Mourinho looks set to have both Nemanja Matic and Antonio Valencia at his disposal while he’ll also be hoping that Alexis Sanchez has recovered from the groin problem that caused him to miss the Brighton game.

Pochettino is almost at full strength. Son Heung-min is still on international duty with South Korea at the Asian Games, while Hugo Lloris’ well-publicised personal concerns ensure he is something of a doubt. Victor Wanyama has returned to training but probably sits this one out.

It is hard to side with United here. They were far from impressive in defeating Leicester in their opener and were flattered to only go down 3-2 at Brighton.

The disharmony from manager to players is becoming almost palpable in the Old Trafford air and Mourinho, after two games, is already in a battle to save his skin and, perhaps, his reputation.

Given how it ended at Chelsea, where would the Portuguese hope to go – or rather what would he think he’ll be offered – should his United experience end in yet more turmoil.

Spurs have two wins from two games but they’ve conceded in both, to Newcastle and Fulham and their record in this fixture is very hard to get away from.

It is also worth noting that while Mourinho’s style of football has become hard to watch, there are few managers better equipped to set up and contain in a one-off game.

 A defeat here would be a dagger wound to the United boss at a time when he is already shedding blood. Home advantage they may have and a proud tradition of swatting Tottenham aside that goes with it, but Mourinho would probably take a draw right now.

He has lost his ‘special’ touch but he’s still got what it takes to come away with a spirited point and a claiming of the moral high ground afterwards.

That’s what I’m happy to side with a 1-1 scoreline at Old Trafford, priced at a decent return of 6.55 tonight.