Manchester United’s 3-2 defeat against Brighton last weekend has seen pessimism levels around Old Trafford flying through the roof. Their display at The Amex was toothless and sloppy; a worrying departure from their solid 2-1 win against Leicester at Old Trafford on the opening day.
There’s a sense Jose Mourinho’s ‘third season curse’ may be descending on United, and the Portuguese are now favourite to be the next manager to leave his post. The incessant negativity surrounding the Mourinho circus is turning many fans, and seemingly players, against him.
They have a chance to put that Brighton defeat behind them, but Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham are far from ideal opponents to bounce back against. Two wins out of two – against Newcastle and Fulham – will please the Spurs boss, and he knows it’s a good time to play United.
While United have won the previous four Premier League encounters with Spurs at Old Trafford, United’s defensive disarray last week – particularly Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof who were shocking – will give plenty of encouragement to the Spurs front line.
Mourinho would have hoped Toby Alderweireld would be lining up in United’s colours for this fixture, but with the Belgian back in the fold at Spurs, it’s a prime opportunity to show Mourinho – and Ed Woodward – just what they are missing out on.
I will be very surprised to see a repeat of the Brighton performance on Monday from United, and there simply must be a response of some sort. They are a wounded beast with a point to prove, and I’m expecting a much-improved – and much changed – United side than last time out.
Spurs can no longer be classed as underdogs against the likes of Manchester United – a testament to the job Pochettino has done there – and they will happily go toe-to-toe with their opponents.
I can see a few goals going in here, but both sides are likely to cancel each other out, so I’m tipping this one to end in a draw.
Manchester United’s opening two fixtures saw three penalties awarded in total, and you just feel this could be the sort of match where another is given. The man in charge on Monday is Craig Pawson, who awarded the joint-most penalties last season (6), so is not afraid to point to that spot.
It’s the sort of highly-emotional match which is just begging out for a frustrated defender to dangle a leg out to fell and advancing attacker; much like Eric Bailly’s suicidal lunge on Pascal Gross last Sunday, which resulted in an Albion spot-kick.
It’s a slightly outside shot, but I’m backing a penalty to be awarded in the match.
We all know how Mourinho will play: men behind the ball, let Spurs have it and basically make the viewing spectacle as unpleasant as possible.
Now his August curse has finally been broken, Harry Kane will be desperate to add to his monthly tally, particularly because he has only ever found the net once against United.
The England striker registered 184 shots last season – 40 more than second-place Mo Salah and 87 (!) more than third-place Christian Eriksen – so don’t expect Kane to shirk an opportunity to shoot.
Harry Kane to have three or more shots on target during the match is my third and final tip.