Manchester United vs. Tottenham: 6 Things We Learned

Jack Alexandros Rathborn@@jackrathbornContributor IIIMarch 28, 2017

Manchester United vs. Tottenham: 6 Things We Learned

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    Tottenham Hotspur won at Old Trafford for the first time since 1989, holding off Manchester United 3-2 in an enthralling encounter.

    Andre Villas-Boas was absolutely delighted with the performance and stated: "Our work-rate was immense, our spirit, we played extremely confidently" (via BBC).

    Sir Alex Ferguson bemoaned the lack of injury time added on. No, seriously, he did; despite four minutes being awarded by the referee, he complained, "It was an insult to the game" (via BBC).

    It was an interesting match that provided us with a real insight as to how these two teams stand and what the season holds for them moving forward.

    Here are my six things that I learned.

Rio Ferdinand Is Finished Against the Very Best

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    Saturday's match against Spurs finally proved to us all that Rio Ferdinand is done against the very best in Europe.

    Gareth Bale's pace is frightening, but Ferdinand had a sizable head start and couldn't even get close to the Welsh wizard. Even a tactical foul can sometimes be an acceptable form of action as careers enter their final years, but Ferdinand was not even able to get close enough to do that.

    When you consider that Ferdinand's career has been largely based on his exceptional physical attributes, his form will become a real concern for Sir Alex Ferguson moving forward.

    Once Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones return, Ferdinand could be set for a long spell on the sidelines.

Villas-Boas Has Created a Good Atmosphere at the Club

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    It was reported in the British press this weekend that Andre Villas-Boas' Spurs' career was in turmoil.

    The Sun reported that the players had vented their anger at his training methods and that Villas-Boas had also fallen out with a member of his coaching staff, Tim Sherwood.

    The 3-2 win at Old Trafford will obviously galvanise the group, but the Portuguese tactician was visibly delighted for his players and shared the celebrations with them.

    It was clear to all that the players shared a great affection for the former Chelsea manager and that certain reports that parts of the British press have an agenda against Villas-Boas is not too wide of the mark.

Jan Vertonghen Is Top Class

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    Jan Vertonghen signed for Spurs this summer from Ajax in a €12.5 million transfer.

    The Belgian has instantly shown his quality in marshaling the Spurs defence with superb organisational skills, despite not having a regular partner so far.

    His goal was an indicator as to what a quality footballer the 25-year-old is. Vertonghen has quick feet, a killer touch and a wide range of distribution that can stretch the opponent from the back.

    Vertonghen is just the latest Belgian to stamp his mark on the Premier League and is part of a golden generation for the Diables Rouges.

Manchester United's Midfield Is Not Good Enough

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    Manchester United invested a huge chunk of their summer transfer budget on two players who might begin to feel more and more unnecessary as the season develops.

    The Red Devils spent £37 million on Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie despite a plethora of attacking options at their disposal.

    The midfield now looks more vulnerable than ever, with veterans Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs' influence waning somewhat. Michael Carrick's form is patchy, and the 31-year-old tends to struggle to outclass the better sides in the Premier League in the midfield battles.

    Anderson appears to be overweight, and Kagawa is not comfortable playing that deep. Tom Cleverly has decent potential, but it should not be forgotten that he is already 23 years old and has only played 38 matches in the Premier League.

    Sir Alex Ferguson must realise that if United are to reclaim the championship and become competitive in Europe again, then midfield reinforcements are a necessity.

Kyle Walker Is Not as Good as We Think

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    Kyle Walker, the reigning PFA Young Players' Player of the Year, has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the European game in recent years.

    The Spurs right-back has all the tools needed to become one of the game's most outstanding full-backs with his explosive pace and recovery skills allowing him to cover his mistakes while he gains vital experience.

    But Walker's marking is something that leaves a lot to be desired and might have cost Spurs their win on Saturday if it was not for some really poor finishing from Manchester United.

    Robin van Persie was allowed to drift down his side of the pitch, completely unmarked, as the Red Devils searched for an equaliser and Patrice Evra found himself wide open on several occasions at the back post, spurning some glorious opportunities.

    The England full-back must improve quickly if he is to be considered among the best in the world. Until these easily avoidable mistakes can be eradicated from his game, Walker will always be a liability against the better sides in the league.

Villas-Boas Slowly Finding His Best XI

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    Andre Villas-Boas actually contains an exceptional group of players, but the problem is that several of these arrived at the end of the transfer window or were granted extended holidays for their involvement in Euro 2012.

    The longer that Villas-Boas has with his squad, it becomes clear that he is gradually piecing together a formidable side that has the potential to improve on Harry Redknapp's achievements in recent years.

    No matter who is selected in goal, Brad Friedel or Hugo Lloris, AVB can rely on one of these goalkeepers to be a safe pair of hands, while Jan Vertonghen appears to be one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League already.

    Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Walker provide pace and athleticism in the full-back areas, and Moussa Dembele and Sandro are already looking like a terrific centre-midfield partnership.

    Gareth Bale is a superstar, while Aaron Lennon is finally remaining fit and avoiding those niggling injuries that disrupted his career for so long.

    Jermain Defoe is in the form of his career and Emmanuel Adebayor is only on the bench for the time being, which further proves that AVB has the potential to repeat Redknapp's fourth-place finish from last season.