Manchester United showed that they are the title favorites by handing out a 3-0 thrashing to a limping Spurs squad. On the face of it, the scoreline might look like a comfortable win for United, but it was far from it. Tottenham dominated the first half; however, in the second half United pressed forward and the Spurs defenses relented by conceding three goals in space of 25 minutes.
Spurs had a bad buildup to the game. Luka Modric transfer saga took all the headlines, with Harry Redknapp and his assistant coach Kevin Bond offering contrasting reports as to why Modric was not playing. According to Bond, Modric was injured, while Redknapp said he was mentally unfit.
Not the best way to start the new season.
Modric: mentally unfit.
Sandro, King, Palacios, Gallas, Crouch, Pineaar: injured.
Huddlestone, Jenas: half fit and in the benches.
Jake Livermore made his premier league debut alongside Niko Kranjcar in central midfield. Livermore had a fairly decent game, but Spurs lacked the bite in the middle of the park.
Until the half time, Spurs dominated United in possession, but in the final third, they were simply not good enough. United had one or two chances, with Friedel making a fine save from a Cleverley shot.
In the second half, United midfield pressed Spurs and after 60 minutes, Spurs defenses relented. Cleverley produced a fine cross and Welbeck outfoxed Dawson to head home the first goal. Suddenly, the dam broke and all hell broke loose.
Harry made a offensive substitutions by bringing in Huddlestone and Pavlyuchenko for Kranjcar and Livermore. This only compounded the problem. Anderson shook off an unfit and slow Huddlestone and finished the second goal with a beautiful back-heel assist from Welbeck .
The more the Spurs pressed forward, the larger the gaping hole in the midfield became. The game could have turned when a chance was presented to Defoe, six yards out of the goal, but Defoe executed poorly and hit the post. With Spurs committing more bodies forward, it was only a matter of time for the third goal.
Bale had an okay game, making some good runs, but never had the service or help upfront. Lennon, who used to chase lost causes, looked unfit or uninterested and simply did not turn up today. Young peeled off Walker time and again in the first half, and Redknapp had to sub him with Corluka at half time. Kyle Naughton, who is currently on loan with Norwich, looks to be a far better option than Walker at the moment.
It might seem that Spurs missed Modric. In a way it is true, but the player who they missed most was Sandro (or Palacios). Going to Old Trafford without a defensive midfielder was a suicide mission.
Spurs were wasteful of their chances, especially Van der Vaart, whose only aim was to hit shots at De Gea in the hopes that he'd fumble. Tottenham never really replaced Berbatov, and Defoe as a lone man striker is simply not good enough.
De Gea did well and I was impressed with his distribution. Surprisingly, Friedel started ahead of Gomes for Spurs. Friedel was reliable, but in contrast to De Gea his distribution was poor. Spurs play counter attacking football with pace in flanks. In the past two seasons, Gomes started almost every counter attacking move. I am afraid with Friedel in goal, this is not going to happen, and Bale and Lennon will suffer with lack of service.
Things we learned today
1) De Gea, on his day, can be a world class keeper, but still a suspect in crosses. Crouch was missed today by Spurs. He could have given lot of problems to De Gea.
2) Friedel is reliable, but not always the best for the team with his lack of distribution.
3) Defoe is a hopeless lone man striker and always needs another front man with him (lesson not learned by Spurs)
4) Spurs need bodies in the middle of the park, and have too many injured, unfit players (same old story with regards to injuries)
5) Van der Vaart's ego got the better of him. In pretense of testing De Gea's keeping ability, he wasted numerous set pieces and offensive situations.
6) Manchester United are title contenders with such a energetic midfield
7) England International team's future is safe, especially with Rooney, Welbeck, Young, Cleverley, Smalling, and Jones playing in same XI.
8) Smalling, Jones and Evans were not tested enough, but did well enough to get a clean sheet.
9) Dawson and Kaboul are consistently inconsistent with their defending.
10) Tottenham needs a striker, a defensive midfielder and a quality center back. They also need a forward right winger to displace Lennon, who looks ordinary by day.
Any premier league team can lose at Old Trafford, so it's not a bad three points to lose after all. This is not the end of chances at the Top 4 for Spurs. They need to get their act together and sign players like Adebayor,Diarra and Cahill. If they can get Modric and Sandro fit with these signings, they are still a threat for any team.
Final words on United—Title Favorites.