Manchester United and Tottenham are teams that started the season in disappointment but will hope recent developments can inspire a move up the Premier League table.
While United have won four Premier League matches in a row and seem to have finally found their footing under David Moyes, Spurs fired Andre Villas-Boas on December 16 and have taken seven points in their last three games under new manager Tim Sherwood.
Of course, keeping that run going at Old Trafford will be no easy task, especially against a United squad that already earned a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane this season. Let's break down this New Year's Day clash.
When: Wednesday, January 1, at 12:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. GMT)
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Watch: NBC Sports Network; NBC Sports Live Extra; BT Sport 1 (U.K.)
Odds: Manchester United (45.7 percent), Tottenham (28.7 percent) and draw (25.6 percent), according to Bloomberg Sports
Each team will be dealing with serious injuries, with Paulinho out for Spurs and Robin van Persie out for Manchester United, according to Guy Mowbray of BBC Sport. The big question for United will be the fitness of Wayne Rooney. If United's top man (nine goals, nine assists) can't play, Spurs will certainly like their chances.
Surprisingly, Tottenham has actually been better on the road (19 points) than they have been at home (15), with six wins on their travels.
Add it all up and Tottenham should come into this game with a bit of confidence. For that reason, Christian Eriksen feels the side should continue to attack as they've done under Sherwood via Paul Hirst of The Independent:
I think we should go to United and just play like we did against Stoke. We should just play free. We will still get space and we just have to take our chances.
Of course United are a better team than Stoke and we have full respect for them, but I think we can get something from the game.
The coach has told us to play more free.
We have seen that in the games (Sherwood has taken charge of). He said it looked like we were a little bit afraid (before). He said we shouldn't be afraid. He said we should just play and see that we are good. If we dare we have a really good team and really good chances.
I think what you see now is how we should play.
Remember, United have taken just 14 of a possible 27 points at home. Old Trafford hasn't exactly been an insurmountable fortress this season, and Tottenham certainly has the talent to mount a dangerous siege on the United goal.
Perhaps all they needed was a manager to cut them loose a little bit.
Meanwhile, Moyes has seemingly come into his own for United, as Mowbray notes:
As the momentum builds, there seems to be a change in Moyes. On Boxing Day at Hull he was the most animated he's been yet as United boss.
Animated and angry; contesting every decision—and still bristling after the game even following a potentially significant comeback win. He's basically settled in!
Moyes isn't the only one finding his footing. Danny Welbeck has been excellent in van Persie's stead, with four goals in his past five games. If Rooney is unable to go, Welbeck becomes all the more important leading United's line.
One good turn deserves another when two teams in good form meet. United's injury concerns are worth paying serious attention to, as is Spurs recent form and their play on the road in general.
This feels like a game that will have goals (both teams have been good, not great, defensively), and it's a bit hard to pick between them, even with United recently storming up the table.
In an exciting, vitally important match for clubs tied at 34 points on the table, this one will end in a draw, 2-2.
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