It’s the start of the hectic holiday period, with the Premier League already back in action this midweek.
The most exciting matchup comes on Wednesday night, as Manchester United host Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in a game between two teams in need of a win, for two different reasons.
Fans were already anticipating this contest at the start of the season, but recent storylines have made this game must see.
The Red Devils are in the midst of a club crisis, dropping points once again this past weekend at home to Aston Villa. They went down early, with Jack Grealish scoring an absolute gem of a goal, curling his shot into the top corner from the edge of the area.
United showed some character, and just like last week versus Sheffield United, managed to comeback to take the lead. It started when Marcus Rashford headed a cross from Andreas Pereira off the post, off goalkeeper Tom Heaton, and into the back of the net. Then, at the hour mark, Victor Lindelof headed home from close range.
However, just like last week once again, the Red Devils gave up an equalizer, as Tyrone Mings beat the offside trap before smashing a volley past David De Gea. It was more woeful defending from United, and it led to them having to settle for a draw on the afternoon. They ended the night in 9th place in the league table, tied on points with Burnley and Crystal Palace.
Spurs are flying high at the moment, with new manager Jose Mourinho leading the team to three straight wins to start his tenure.
They ran rampant versus AFC Bournemouth at home on Saturday, taking a 3-0 lead through two goals from Dele Alli and another from Moussa Sissoko.
Spurs were put under pressure by the end of the contest, however, as a late brace from Harry Wilson cut the deficit down to one. They managed to hold on, securing the three points that jumped them up to 5th place in the Premier League standings.
Last time out
The two sides faced off in a preseason match last summer, but their previous competitive contest came back on January 13th of this year. It was a much different time back then, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was still just an interim-manager for United, while Spurs were led by Mauricio Pochettino. Both sides were flying high going into the matchup, so it set the stage perfectly for an exciting affair.
They each had chances early on, but the only goal of the contest would come at the stroke of halftime. Paul Pogba picked up the ball in midfield before finding Marcus Rashford in behind with an exceptional through ball. The Englishman took a good first touch that allowed him to compose himself before coolly slotting home.
Spurs, in front of their home crowd, really started to push forward, spraying shots at the United goal time and time again. However, all their efforts were for naught, as David De Gea decided to stand on his head, stopping anything and everything that came his way. By the end of the game, he had made 11 saves, keeping a clean sheet and securing the three points for United.
As there’s such a quick turnaround, not much has changed in terms of team news.
United might receive a massive boost in the coming days, however, as Solskjaer has hinted that either Scott McTominay or even Paul Pogba could return from injury in time for Wednesday. The midfield has been an area of weakness in recent games, and just getting one of those players back could be crucial.
Luke Shaw featured versus Aston Villa off the bench, and should be fit enough to start versus Spurs.
Other than that, Eric Bailly, Nemanja Matic, and Diogo Dalot are still available for the Red Devils.
It’s a similar story for Spurs, who are dealing with a number of long term injuries.
Goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm are still undergoing rehabilitation, while Ben Davies is out with an ankle injury that he picked up a few weeks ago.
They might have one return to the team, as Erik Lamela is back in training following a hamstring injury, and the Argentine might be able to make an appearance off the bench on Wednesday if need be.
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Andreas, Fred, James, Lingard, Rashford, Martial
Tottenham Hotspur: Gazzaniga, Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweiled, Vertonghen, Ndombele, Dier, Sissoko, Dele, Son, Kane
What to watch for
The return of the Special One
It’s always a spectacle when Jose Mourinho is coaching, but when he comes up against a former team is when things get really tasty. That’s what will happen on Wednesday, as the Portuguese manager makes his return to Old Trafford.
Considering how ugly his time ended in Manchester, everyone knows Mourinho will be motivated to exact some revenge on his former employers.
He’ll like his chances on the night, as his Spurs side are in great form, while the Red Devils have fallen apart in recent weeks.
This situation only puts more pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as well. Already fighting for his job at the moment, he cannot afford to risk getting embarrassed by the man he replaced. He’s not got much fan support left, and losing again will likely cost Solskjaer his final few supporters, and ultimately his job.
Whatever happens, viewers can be guaranteed fireworks.