As expected, the horserace that is the Barclay’s Premier League is tight entering the first turn of a long season.
In front, we find relative surprises Arsenal and Liverpool, both whom were expected to contend but never to perform quite this way. Following just behind them are perennial favorites Chelsea and Manchester City, who represent the thoroughbreds biding their time before their post-Christmas push to the front. Right behind them is underdog Southampton, who are outrunning their odds and keeping sports-books on their toes.
However, this weekend features a major turning point for two horses currently wallowing about in the mediocrity that is the middle of the pack, as prized stallions Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have come out of the gates cold.
We all know their stories by now. On one hand, we have Manchester United, who have struggled in their maiden voyage under captain David Moyes, as the former Everton man has struggled to step into the Fergie sized void left in the manager’s office in Old Trafford.
On the other hand, there is Tottenham, who have floundered in the scoring department in the season’s opening stages, as the London club sold superstar Gareth Bale, and seemingly their ability to finish to mega-power Real Madrid.
Despite their initial problems, both teams find themselves relatively alive in the Premier League race, but a loss in this weekend’s matchup would leave hopes hanging by a thread.
That begs the question: which of these two teams is more equipped for a run at Premier League glory?
While both teams have their issues, the tribulations faced by the two clubs appear to be very different, as one club’s troubles seem entirely fixable.
Manchester United were champions last campaign, and despite the loss of their ever-present manager, enter this season relatively unchanged. Robin van Persie still spearheads the attack, Nemanja Vidic is still the backbone of defense and Wayne Rooney still keeps defenders, and United supporters, on their toes.
The main difference in this season’s edition of United comes in their aura, as the idea of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils instilled a fear that we are yet to see with David Moyes’ version. United under Moyes has yet to inspire that sense of knowing, as lesser teams knew that points against the team in red was all but impossible.
However, this season’s United has been in the holiday mood all season, as Moyes’ squad has been charitably handing out points all year to teams in need, as the likes of West Brom and Cardiff have been able to nick points off of United this season.
What the Red Devils need is a run of form that inspires fear. Picking up a few victories in a row, beginning with this weekend against Spurs, will remind other clubs that United is not to be taken lightly, even if they don’t have Sir Alex at the helm.
Spurs, on the other hand, have a much larger problem than their opponents this weekend, as their issues date back to the summer.
Six months ago, Spurs had themselves a nice, shiny dollar bill of a player named Gareth Bale. The London club sold him, which is all well and good, but their way of replacing him is where things have gone wrong.
You see, Tottenham tried to replace their paper money with mere coins, as a plethora of nickels, dimes and quarters were brought in to make up for the loss of the almighty dollar.
Unfortunately for Spurs, the money just hasn’t added up, as you can’t replace a player the caliber of Gareth Bale with pieces of loose change.
Spurs brought in some solid players, as they were able to add Soldado, Erik Lamela, Paulinho et al in the summer transfer window.
However, the club added a few good players to replace one that was great and have struggled to cope throughout the new season.
So many new parts attempting to run without one part really taking charge have left Spurs lifeless, and more importantly, goalless.
What Tottenham needs is a star. They need a player to light the way and lead the charge for the rest to follow. With the sale of Bale, Spurs lost their star, never to return again.
With that being said, this weekend represents a major turning point for these clubs. While United appear better equipped for a top four run, Spurs can make a major statement by putting together a good performance against the champions.
It’s anybody's race at this point, and it’s time for one of these two horses to make their move.
Who do you think has a better chance of making top 4? Have your say with a comment below or tweet @R_Tolmich with your point of view!