Say goodbye to yet another Friday night Zoom quiz with the in-laws, because Premier League football is finally back!
Tottenham host Man Utd in what looks to be the most intriguing encounter of the first round of fixtures and the result here could have a big say in the Top 4 race come the end of the season.
Both sides had contrasting fortunes before the break, with Jose Mourinho’s men going six straight games without victory in all competitions – during with they fell out of both the FA Cup and Champions League, while slumping to 8th in the Premier League.
In their defence, Spurs were without several key figures – most notably Heung-min Son and Harry Kane. Both should go straight back into the starting XI here and provide a much-needed boost up front. This Tottenham team seem to have been stuck in reverse since their Champions League final defeat to Liverpool all the way back in June last year. Spurs sit 8th but are back in 12th place on expected points, so they really need a big finish to the season if they have any hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
For Man Utd and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the lockdown couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Red Devils were 11 games unbeaten in all competitions – including a very impressive 2-0 Manchester Derby victory last time out. Despite that good form, there is still plenty of work to be done as United sit 3 points off 4th spot behind Chelsea.
- Marcus Rashford says ‘he can’t do anything to help David Luiz’
- Steve McManaman repeatedly says ‘Fletch’ into a mirror to prepare for Prem return
Solskjaer has won many plaudits for getting results in the big games – standouts being league doubles over City and Chelsea and taking a point off runaway leaders Liverpool, however, they have failed to capitalise on such results against the lesser teams.
The January acquisition of Bruno Fernandes looks like it could be the club’s best bit of business in years. Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba are both welcomed back into the fold and should be well-rested and ready to go on Friday night.
When looking for a bet I found it hard to fully get behind either side. I would lean ever so slightly toward the men in red – but maybe not at the current prices. United have only picked up 4 wins on road all year and are much better suited to playing teams who will come at them. Mourinho’s mindset won’t allow his side to be caught on the counter and he knows the threat Rashford and Martial pose on the break more than anyone.
I can see Spurs approaching with caution and possibly allowing the visitors to have the lion’s share of the ball. Tottenham have faced 3 of the big 6 at home under Mourinho – all three tight affairs, with Under 2.5 landing in each. United also don’t get involved in many high-scoring affairs on the road – 11 of 14 seeing Under 2.5 goals.
In addition to the stats above, this looks to be Man United’s toughest test remaining (on paper at least) until they go to Leicester on the last weekend of the season. I think they will be more than happy with a point here.
With all of this in mind, I’d strongly advise getting on the Unders but for a bit more value I’m opting for – Draw & Under 2.5 Goals.
Keeping with the theme of a low scoring affair, I also like the look of Time of 1st Goal: After the 27th Minute. I don’t think either will make a fast start here. Both sides have players returning from injury and there should be a couple of cobwebs to shake off on both sides.
Don’t worry it’s not all doom and gloom – although I think it will be low scoring, it should still be a fascinating watch. One player I will have a close eye on is Bruno Fernandes. As mentioned, he looks to be a top signing. He always wants the ball and seems to be involved in anything good United do. Including his time at Lisbon this season, he’s averaged 4 Shots & 1.7 Shots on Target per 90. I like 2+ Shots on Target here. He’s not afraid to have a go from range and he should be over set-pieces and possibly penalties (although he might have to fight the ball off Rashford and Pogba).
WDW & O/U 2.5 Goals – Draw & Under 2.5
Time of First Goal – After the 27th Minute
Player to have 2 or more Shots on Target – Bruno Fernandes