Manchester United: Last-Minute Team News and Potential Starting XI vs. Tottenham

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIJanuary 19, 2013

One of the biggest matches in Week 23 of the English Premier League sees Manchester United travel to White Hart Lane to take on Tottenham Hotspur.

United are currently seven points clear on top of the table and looking good to post their 20th league title, having lost just three times so far this year.

However, one of those times did come against Andre Villas-Boas' side earlier in the year and now, with the home-ground advantage, Tottenham will once again be a tough side for the Red Devils' dominant attack to break down.

Sir Alex Ferguson will no doubt know the seriousness of this game and the ability it could have on the final outcome of the title race—as will Villas-Boas on the North London club's chances of finishing inside the top four in the league.

Simply put, this is a huge game for both teams that could have far-reaching consequences for the remainder of the 2012-13 season. Thus, for United, getting the strongest starting team on the pitch is pertinent to their chances at success.

Who's in and out for the Red Devils this weekend, and what will their starting lineup and formation most likely be against Tottenham Hotspur?

That's what we're here for.


Latest Injury News for Manchester United

 United suffered a cruel blow this week with the news that midfielder Darren Fletcher will miss the remainder of the season due to injury.

Fletcher has been battling a bowel condition for some time now and had made his return for the Red Devils toward the end of 2012.

However, a statement from the club (via ESPN) revealed that the 28-year-old needed surgery to fix the condition recently, and that surgery will rule him out for an indefinite period of time.

We wish to stress this was a planned procedure undertaken at the optimal time having achieved a period of sustained good general health, as illustrated by the fact that Darren has trained with the team regularly this season and been available for selection right up to the operation.

Whilst it is frustrating for both Darren and the club that he won't be able to contribute further during this campaign, this decision has been taken with our full support in the best interests of his long term health and we look forward to him returning next season with this problem firmly behind him.

BBC Sport also confirmed that winger Ashley Young would miss the match due to a knee injury he suffered in United's recent win over Liverpool.

Defenders Jonny Evans (hamstring) and Nemanja Vidic (concussion) are also both under injury clouds heading into this one, and will likely be game-day decisions, according to Goal. Yahoo! Sports says that the pair will undergo fitness tests prior to the game to determine if one or both of them might be available for selection here.

No other injury news is on hand for the Red Devils.


Potential Starting XI vs. Tottenham Hotspur

With all of that in mind, let's see if we can piece together Manchester United's starting side to take on Tottenham Hotspur this weekend.

Starting at the back, David de Gea will likely assume his place in goal for United, having won back the starting gig from Anders Lindegaard.

He will likely be accompanied by the usual defense of Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Rafael Da Silva. The other spot in central defense will be decided based upon the health of Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans, who as mentioned above, will undergo late medical tests prior to kickoff.

If one is available and the other is not, then that becomes an easy decision to make. If both are free, expect captain Vidic to take his spot at the back, and if both are out, expect Chris Smalling to line up in central defense in this one.

Moving on to central midfield, and it seems clear that both Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley will start here for the Red Devils.

The pair were superb against Liverpool last week, with Carrick in particular dominating the Merseyside men through the middle of the pitch. And with Tottenham's midfield king Sandro out injured for this game, the duo could have a strong influence on this match also, so expect them both to start here.

On the wings, Antonio Valencia will take his usual place on the right having been rested for the first half against Liverpool, with the left wing seemingly a little more open for debate and discussion.

Young's injury opens up the option of playing Wayne Rooney or Shinji Kagawa out on the left and then floating in more centrally once the attack opens up—a role similar to the one Gareth Bale will play for Spurs in this match.

Ferguson will likely want to utilize Kagawa and Rooney in the same lineup, but can't given the strength of his current midfield; he could therefore opt to play one on the wing and allow them to control the attack from a little further out.

Thus I think we could see Kagawa played out on the left and Rooney in the more typical No. 10 role behind the main striker in the attack.

Which, of course, will be Robin van Persie, who has been simply sensational since his switch to Old Trafford at the start of the year.

Expect the Dutchman to start here and lead the Red Devils attack toward victory against their rivals this weekend in the Premier League.


Who do you think will start for Manchester United this weekend?

Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: 


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