Get ready for a midweek clash between two of England’s biggest names, as Manchester United visit Tottenham Hotspur this Thursday. This clash represents one of Spurs’ last chances to get back into the race for the UCL, as they trail United by 6 points with two games in hand (as well as Newcastle by the same amount with one game in hand). Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for a big matchup in North London.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United Odds
At home, Spurs are slight underdogs at +175, with United set at +150 and the draw +265. For a goalscoring line of 2.5, the over is favored with odds of -155, while the under is +125.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United Prediction & Pick
Picks: United ML (+150), o2.5 goals (-155)
After high expectations and a good start to the season, things have gone downhill quickly for Tottenham this year. They were knocked out of the FA Cup by Championship side Sheffield, the Carabao Cup by relegation-threatened Nottingham, and lost in the first Champions League knockout round as well.
In the Prem, things have deteriorated as well; after starting the season with seven matches unbeaten and sitting inside the top four through Christmas, Spurs have hit some tougher times and are now very much on the outside looking in when it comes to the UCL race.
Manager Antonio Conte departed the club by mutual agreement at the end of March, but it gets worse from there; after a 6-1 shellacking at the hands of Newcastle over the weekend, interim coach Cristian Stellini somehow got sacked as well.
Things are better over at United; no matter what happens from here, they have the Carabao Cup in the bag, and are most likely going to make next year’s Champions League. But they’re not necessarily riding high; their fringe push for the Premier League title is completely dead, as is their Europa League campaign after being shocked by an awful Sevilla side. The Red Devils have also advanced to the FA Cup final, which will be the first to feature a Manchester Derby.
United claimed a 2-0 win when these two sides met in the league back in October, and they’ve even won each of their past two Prem road games against Spurs. They’re also in much better form, domestically; three consecutive Prem wins, compared to Tottenham’s back-to-back brutal losses. I’m going to take them on the moneyline, and with neither defense in particularly special form, I’m also going with the over.
With one of the most porous defenses in the league this year, Tottenham’s success will be based on their ability to hold the ball and score enough to keep up with United. Let’s take a look at how some positional battles might affect their ability to do just that
Spurs Attack vs. United Defense
Once again, Harry Kane has quietly strung together an excellent Premier League season. Though he’s been overshadowed by both Erling Haaland and the extremely high standard he’s set for himself throughout the years, his tally of 24 Prem goals is thoroughly impressive.
He’s been the definite engine of the attack, as Son Heung-min is second on the team with just 8 goals in the league. Fullback/midfielder Ivan Perisic leads the team with 7 Prem assists, with winger Dejan Kulusevski right behind him despite missing some time this year.
The big problem with a United defense that has been pretty solid throughout most of the season is at centre-back. Raphaël Varane was settling in very nicely in season 2 with the club, and Lisandro Martinez was on his way to true breakout stardom, but both are currently out with injuries, a true disaster for their club.
In their places, United will likely be trotting out Victor Lindelof and none other than the most-memed footballer alive, Harry Maguire. Lindelof has been pretty good in limited action this year, while Maguire has been pretty problematic, especially in both legs against Sevilla.
United still have a strong fullback pairing of Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who have both been key contributors this year. They’ll have to put in a particularly strong shift to support the defense with both centre-back starters out.
The Midfield Battle
Tottenham’s midfield selection should be pretty straightforward, with Rodrigo Bentancur sidelined for the rest of the season and beyond, but after the Newcastle debacle, we’ll have to see what formation they show up in. In that match, the starting three were youngsters Oliver Skipp and Pape Matar Sarr along with Danish star Pierre-Emile Højberg.
However, after the five goals conceded in a disastrous first 20 minutes, Sarr was subbed out as a result of a philosophical shift, as Davinson Sánchez took his place and allowed Spurs to take on a more defensive formation. The question remains whether Tottenham will go back to the 4-3-3 with which they started last match, or run a back five. Of course the man making that decision will be Ryan Mason, rather than Stellini, who pulled the strings on both the initial lineup and the Sarr/Sánchez swap last time out.
Spurs’ nebulous midfield situation contrasts a very solid group on United’s end, anchored by superstar CDM Casemiro, viewed by many as the club’s best player in his first year in red. He’ll most likely be joined by Christian Eriksen, who has had an up and down season, and of course Bruno Fernandes, who is somewhat-quietly playing excellent football of late, particularly in the biggest moments- quite uncharacteristically.
A sub appearance for Marcel Sabitzer would be far from a surprise, and the same could be said of a role for club mainstay Fred, although the Brazilian has struggled a bit of late. Still, it’s all about that starting group, and how well they can assert United’s will upon this match.