With just a few weeks to go until the start of the World Cup, the Premier League will enter its first-ever winter break. This will not only allow international players to represent their countries in the Middle East, but provide a valuable rest for the stars staying at home during a congested festive period of the season. For some, the winter break will provide a chance to regroup after a stuttering start to the campaign. But in the case of both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, it could derail their pursuit of Champions League football.
Indeed, the midweek clash at Old Trafford not only represents a stern test in the title race for Antonio Conte’s side but a chance for new United boss Erik ten Hag to stamp his authority in the big games. Humiliated in the Manchester Derby 6-2, the Dutchman will be keen to get back on track against the other big sides, having dispatched both Arsenal and Liverpool before the turn of the year.
On paper, the two sides are evenly matched, with United eliminating a lot of deadwood over the summer to mould a side in his image, whilst Conte put the finishing touches on a side that perhaps overachieved last season to earn a fourth-place finish.
While Spurs edge the Man Utd v Tottenham betting, the game could still prove decisive in where either side finishes next season. The forward line of both teams could be the key to leaving ‘The Theatre of Dreams’ with all three points. Read on, as we assess both attacking options and what position it leaves them in come October 19th.
Hosts on the night, United looked to build on their early season momentum under Ten Hag but the thrashing they received in the Manchester Derby brought them crashing back to reality. Reintroducing Cristiano Ronaldo to the fold has been the difference maker. Having scored his 700th career goal away at Everton, the Portugal superstar still looks as if he can do the business approaching his 38th birthday, and while he is less mobile than he used to be, his goalscoring was crucial last term and will be needed again to unnerve a rather study Spurs defence.
He’ll be supported by Marcus Rashford and Antony out wide, both of which have enjoyed good seasons thus far. Rashford finally starts to look sharp again after 18 months plagued by injuries and inconsistency, whilst Antony is showing Brazil coach Tite why he should be considered for a starting place in Qatar. At £85 million, the winger didn’t come cheap but his end product has impressed the crowd so far and his longevity at just 22 years old shows why Ten Hag shelled out so much money to his former club Ajax. Jadon Sancho provides enthusiasm and pace from the bench.
Considering this time last year it looked as if Harry Kane was destined for Manchester City, Conte has done well to turn the striker’s future around in the year he’s been in north London. A Premier League winner in charge of Chelsea, the Italian knows how to get the best out of strikers, and while his team have been known for their defensive solidity as of late, seeing out games and keeping clean sheets, they are still a force to be reckoned with when they head to Old Trafford.
Kane is supported by last season’s Golden Boot winner Heung-Min Son, who despite struggling at the start of the season, is back looking to his best. They’ll be joined by either Richarlison or Dejan Kulusevski to complete the triumvirate. Richarlison has acclimatised well since making the step-up from relegation-threatened Everton and despite injury setbacks, Kulusevski looks exciting since making his loan move from Juventus permanent last season. A win here for Spurs could be a massive boost if they are serious about pursuing the title.