• FT





  • FT



    Man Utd



White Hart Lane, England

Attendance: 35956

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Tottenham Hotspur

  • Clint Dempsey 90' +3'

1 - 1


Manchester United

  • Robin Van Persie 25'

Soft Spurs have it all to prove

Andre Villas-Boas still has it all to prove at Tottenham despite a promising start.

Sunday is a day of reckoning for Andre Villas-Boas, a chance for him to lay down a marker of progress at Tottenham or concede that despite the club's good recent form they haven't actually moved that far forward this season.

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They currently lie fourth in the Premier League and are well placed ahead of Manchester United's visit to White Hart Lane. Just two points behind Chelsea who are third, but defeat could leave them cut adrift of the top three and in danger of being caught by the chasing pack - Everton are just three points behind while Arsenal trail by six but have a game in hand.

Spurs have shown consistency under Villas-Boas, they have lost just one of their previous ten league games for example, but equally, the victory over United in September aside, they have a poor record against their other top-six rivals in the league – losing to Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Everton – and perhaps even worse, taking the lead in all of those defeats.

This hints that Spurs are a work in progress and still have a soft core not used to closing out important victories against their rivals. That is something United pride themselves on, a strength if you like, as evidenced by their ruthless victory against a spirited Liverpool side last weekend and a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

United will be relishing the trip to north London, with Sir Alex Ferguson hungry for a convincing performance following the insipid FA Cup win against West Ham in midweek and, as previously mentioned, the shock defeat to Spurs at Old Trafford.

Far from a vintage side, United have been a relentless point-collecting beast this campaign - amassing an average of 2.5 points per game- and are spearheaded by the division's premier attacker, Robin van Persie.

The pain of losing out on the title to City on the final day of last season has left Fergie unwilling to take any chances this time, and with the "noisy neighbours" playing on Saturday a win may be essential to …

Tottenham player to watch: Gabriel Agbonlahor

Manchester United player to watch: Robin van Persie Manchester United have strength in depth, the ten changes they made to their side for the FA Cup third round replay against West Ham showed that, but the manner of that display lacked a cutting edge and there is no substitute for class, especially when it comes in the form of a striker that has got 21 goals and six assists this season and pulled the side out of holes. Expect Van Persie to be reinstated on Sunday and expect him to be on the scoresheet.

that will be reinstated against Tottenham. Van Persie grabbed his 21st goal of the season against Liverpool last weekend and it would be a

Key battle: Gareth Bale v Man United defence After his rampant display against United earlier in the campaign the Welsh attacker will be eager to showcase his talents against the very best again. And he is more than capable of swinging the game in Tottenham's favour. Rio Ferdinand's age was cruelly exposed in that game, Nemanja Vidic, injured again against Liverpool

Trivia: Robin van Persie has scored five goals and has five assists in his last 10 Premier League games against Tottenham, he also has nine in his last nine Premier League games.

Stats: Ryan Giggs was named man of the match against West Ham in midweek, and although he isn't likely to start he might fancy a cameo from the subs's bench. He has scored more Premier League goals against Tottenham than versus any other opponent (10).

Odds: Both sides come into the game in good form, so there is not much to choose between them. You can back Tottenham to win and complete a rare double at 2.90, but United are available at a slightly more favourable 2.37 with Bet365. The draw is 3.30. Spurs to recreate their heroics at Old Trafford and win 3-2 is a tempting 26.00, while United to win from behind, as they so often have this season is 9.00.

Prediction: It is a battle of Fergie's experience against AVB's

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