Manchester United will be looking to end what has been a perfect month on a high on Wednesday night when they travel to Wembley Stadium to take on fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur. The Reds endured a disappointing end to 2017, drawing their last three league fixtures as well as crashing out of the Carabao Cup at the hands of Championship side Bristol City.
Since the turn of the year, however, United have been in fine form, winning all five of their matches without conceding a single goal. They have been just as impressive off the pitch, completing the signing of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal as well as tying down manager Jose Mourinho to a new deal up until 2020, with the option of extending for a further year.
The Reds go into Wednesday’s clash on the back of a commanding 4-0 victory over Yeovil Town in the FA Cup fourth round and are brimming with confidence. Mourinho has no new injury concerns to deal with, meaning that Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly are the only two unavailable for the trip to Spurs, whilst Michael Carrick could be in line to make his first league appearance of the season against his former club, having returned to action at Huish Park.
All eyes, though, will be on Sanchez, with the Chile international widely expected to make his league debut for the Reds at Wembley. It will be interesting to see whose spot the 29-year-old will take, with Spaniard Juan Mata seemingly the most likely to miss out on a place in the starting XI. Anthony Martial has been in scintillating form of late for the Reds, scoring in each of his last three league appearances and should start against Mauricio Pochettino’s men. Another player who has been in fine form in the last couple of months, Jesse Lingard, is also likely to maintain his place in the starting XI, having come off the bench to fire in United’s third goal on Friday night.
Up front, Romelu Lukaku, who bagged the Reds’ fourth at Huish Park, should lead the line for the visitors at Wembley.
At the other end of the pitch, David de Gea will reclaim his place in goal having been given the night off against the Glovers, whilst Antonio Valencia is likely to replace Matteo Darmian at right-back. With Phil Jones and Chris Smalling expected to be given the nod as the centre-back pairing, the two England internationals will know that they must be at the top of their game if they are to keep out Spurs’ talisman, Harry Kane. The 24-year-old has been in prolific form once again this term and has bagged 30 goals in as many appearances in all competitions for Spurs.
Wednesday’s clash is a match that could be won in the middle of the park and United’s central duo of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba will be looking to win the midfield battle against the likes of Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama.
Spurs, for their part, have been in inconsistent form this campaign and currently find themselves eight points behind Mourinho’s men. On Saturday, Tottenham required a late Kane goal to salvage a 1-1 draw away to League Two outfit Newport County in their FA Cup clash and Pochettino’s men will be well aware that they must raise their game significantly if they are to emerge from Wednesday’s encounter victorious.
When these two sides met at Old Trafford back in mid-October, it was the Reds who emerged victorious, thanks to a late Martial strike and there is little doubt that Mourinho would jump at the chance of a repeat scoreline on Wednesday night.