Tottenham vs. Manchester United: 8 Bold Predictions When Spurs Host Red Devils
Say it with me Spurs fans:
"Fourth place means Champions League. Fourth place means Champions League..."
If I told you, after the summer's lackluster preseason, that Tottenham would have gone into Old Trafford and ground out a victory, you'd have shook your head and smiled. If I'd have also told you that they'd be just one point out of third place in the league table by the middle of January, you'd probably start walking away.
And if I told you that they'd reach third place by sweeping the Red Devils of Manchester for the first time since 1989, you might near slap me in the mouth.
But that's what's on the line for a Tottenham club looking to lower its head and charge into the spring. The club's been strong as of late, and although they disappointed last weekend, drawing at Queens Park Rangers, the club's only lost once since November 18—thanks to two injury-time goals at Goodison Park.
Manchester United, however, has been on an absolute tear. They've won nine of their last 10, and everyone outside of North London has to believe a trip to White Hart Lane this weekend won't get in the way of another three points.
No matter who gets the points, it's going to be a thrilling weekend for both clubs. Here are my bold predictions as Tottenham takes on Manchester United and continues on toward its first title since 1961.
Sandro Will Be Sitting This One out
ESPN reported on Wednesday that Spurs midfielder Sandro has had surgery for a knee injury he suffered last week against Queens Park Rangers and that his recovery schedule "will be assessed over the next few days."
This is about as un-bold as it gets in these parts, but Sandro ain't coming out of that tunnel on Sunday—not against a squad like Manchester United.
...Meaning Mousa Dembele Will Earn the Start
His defense is top-notch, he dribbles and tackles with ease—this is the situation Dembele was brought over from Fulham for.
The oft-used midfielder has had some rest as of late, starting on the bench for an FA Cup clash with Coventry City and not playing the full 90 minutes in the match against Reading previous to that. He's still match fit, as he showed endurance against QPR last week, but he should have fresh legs going into Sunday's fixture against the Red Devils.
...and Assist on Tottenham's First Goal
Dembele is one of the strongest players on the squad at direct free kicks, a skill he featured more frequently at former club Fulham.
My bold prediction? Dembele takes a free kick and curls it towards the box for what will be the opening score.
A bonus bold prediction? It'll be in the first 25 minutes.
...Scored by Dempsey!
Dempsey has met modest expectations since arriving at Tottenham this August, scoring four goals and assisting on three more, but I predict he's in the right place and the right time on Dembele's free kick.
He's a physical player who's only gotten better in the box since coming to White Hart Lane and put in a position to make more headed attempts. I think he opens the scoring with a Fulham-to-Fulham combination.
Rooney Equalizes in First-Half Injury Time
This is Manchester United we're talking about. These guys feed off of jeers and boos like a cow feeds off grass. They'll finish the half drawn with hosting Tottenham and it'll be Wayne Rooney who does it.
Rooney looked every bit of his old self as he sent West Ham United packing from the FA Cup on Wednesday.
It'll be drawn 1-1 at halftime, with both teams believing they can pull out a victory. After halftime?
Tottenham Goes Up 3-1 in Second Half
I think Jermain Defoe is a top-notch striker in England and I love how involved Aaron Lennon is making himself along the right flank. If Kyle Walker is anchoring the right side like he usually does—and the Red Devils double-team Gareth Bale as some sides usually do—it'll open up a lot of things on that side of the pitch.
My prediction? Another display of quick-fire scoring, much like in the previous meeting between these two clubs, with Defoe and Lennon nabbing scores before the 70th minute.
United Claw One Back
The Red Devils are as formidable as it gets in England and seven points in first place in part because they're averaging nearly 2.5 goals scored per match.
The eventual champions will surely grab one back. My guess is a Javier Hernandez cherry picking.
...but Tottenham Wins 3-2 on Sunday
All bold predictions aside, earning three points against Manchester United, even at home, is an accomplishment. Sweeping them in a season? Nearly unheard of.
That's not to say it's impossible, though.
Scott Parker bolsters a midfield that wasn't this strong when Spurs went to Old Trafford and I believe the North London crowd will give it to the visiting Red Devils.
Andre Villas-Boas will grab these three points and see his new-look Spurs catapult to third in the league table.
This is what I think will happen when Tottenham hosts Manchester United on Sunday. Comment below and let me know your thoughts!