Tactical Battles That Will Shape Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentDecember 30, 2013

HULL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Manchester United manager David Moyes reacts on the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Manchester United at KC Stadium on December 26, 2013 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Manchester United only played Tottenham a month ago, drawing 2-2 at White Hart Lane.

A lot has changed in that time, however, since Andre Villas-Boas was axed by chairman Daniel Levy and replaced with Tim Sherwood—and when the Spurs arrive at Old Trafford on New Year's Day, they will offer a different challenge.

Tottenham are unbeaten in the Premier League since Sherwood took over, winning two and drawing one. The highlights of his short reign were the 3-2 win at Southampton and a 3-0 win over Stoke on Saturday.

Here's a list of the key tactical battles from United's clash with Tottenham on Wednesday.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Roberto Soldado of Tottenham Hotspur is tackled by Geoff Cameron of Stoke City during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City at White Hart Lane on December 29, 2013 in London, England.  (
Paul Gilham/Getty Images


Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic v Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor

Villas-Boas often played with a lone frontman, but Sherwood's key tactical switch since taking over has been to introduce a 4-4-2. In his three Premier League games, he's paired Adebayor and Soldado and there's nothing to suggest he'll change his approach at Old Trafford.

Soldado and Adebayor aren't particularly mobile, but at the very least Evans and Vidic are in for a physical battle. The United centre-halves will have to make it hard for them to hold the ball up and make make sure neither frontman get across them when the ball is crossed into the box.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 20: Aaron Lennon of Tottenham Hotspur and Patrice Evra of Manchester United compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane on January 20, 2013 in L
Clive Mason/Getty Images


Patrice Evra v Aaron Lennon

Sherwood has rotated his midfield since taking over and it's difficult to know who will line up at Old Trafford. Lennon was in the team against Stoke on Saturday, scoring Tottenham's third, and Sherwood will know he's given Evra a tough time in the past.

Not only does Evra often look uncomfortable against Lennon, his attacking threat also stops the Frenchman getting forward himself—a big weapon for David Moyes' United. All Evra can do is get tight, keep Lennon facing his own goal as much as he can and hope he gets a bit of protection from whoever is playing on the left of midfield.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21:  Antonio Valencia of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford on December 21, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/
Stu Forster/Getty Images


Antonio Valencia v Danny Rose

Rose was picked at left-back for Sherwood's first three games in charge, although former United academy graduate Zeki Fryers played there against Stoke.

Both are young, fairly inexperienced and defensively suspect. Valencia, rested after his suspension at the weekend, should be licking his lips.

He's starting to find some form after a difficult season last year and whether it's Rose or Fryers facing him on Wednesday, they won't fancy coming up against his pace and strength.