After an unconvincing start to the English Premier League soccer season, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United side could really do with victory at home to Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on Monday (3pm ET).
Man Utd verged on shambolic during the first half of their 2-3 defeat away to Brighton last weekend and were a bit fortunate not to go in more than two goals down at the interval. They struggled to create chances throughout, and there was no discernible pattern to their play.
It was not a performance that suggested United are in shape to build on last season’s second place finish and more closely challenge local rivals Manchester City for this year’s title. While Mourinho was very vocal in criticising the club’s transfer work over the summer, the truth is that he has had enough funds and time to construct a better team.
The achievement of finishing second last time around was shadowed by the dominance of City and also by far less impressive underlying statistics that suggested Man Utd had scored less and conceded more than could have been expected given the locations from which they took and conceded shots. That was particularly the case on the defensive end.
Unlike City, Liverpool and Spurs, the latter pair of whom finished behind them in the table, United did not profile as an elite side at either end of the pitch. That trend has continued into the new Premier League soccer campaign. They emerged as 2-1 victors from a pretty even opener at home to Leicester City before the aforementioned defeat to Brighton.
Man Utd verged on shambolic during their defeat away to Brighton
Whether these performances, results and Mourinho’s dour demeanour are portends of the sort of third-season breakdowns that occurred in his last spell in charge of Chelsea (which ended in December 2015 after nine defeats in 16 matches) and previously at Real Madrid remains to be seen. The USA online bookmakers and their bettors seem to believe so, but defeat on Monday would certainly do little to improve the mood at Old Trafford.
Opponents Tottenham have won two out of two so far this season. A 2-1 victory away to Newcastle was followed by a 3-1 win at home to Fulham last weekend. Lucas Moura put them ahead with a nice curled effort from inside the area. Kieran Trippier restored their lead after a Fulham equaliser with a well-executed free-kick. Harry Kane then finished things off with his first Premier League goal during the month of August.
It has been a good start for Mauricio Pochettino and his side. Spurs were the only team not to sign a single player this summer, but in contrast to his opposite number this weekend, Pochettino appears content to work within those restrictions and get on with the task at hand.
It is somewhat of a cliché, but there are some players in the Spurs squad who will almost feel like new signings this season. Moura struggled to make an impact following his January move from Paris Saint-Germain but now looks ready to contribute after a full pre-season with the club. Erik Lamela never quite reached his peak level last season after a long injury layoff, but he made a strong impact off the bench against Fulham.
Tottenham are still a very strong side, with talented players and a solid and well-structured approach. While others around them make changes or go through peaks and troughs, they again look well-placed to challenge for what would be a fourth consecutive top-three finish.
Over the last three seasons, all six league matches between United and Spurs have been won by the home team, while United have triumphed in the last four at Old Trafford. Man Utd also emerged victorious in last season’s FA Cup semi-final. Spurs did, though, win in Manchester in both 2014 and 2012, and the early-season trajectories of the two sides suggest they have a good chance of securing another such result this weekend.
Spurs should therefore be fancied to get the win that would see them begin a Premier League campaign with three consecutive victories for the first time since 2009.
Our Betting Preview’s Man Utd vs. Tottenham Picks & Predictions Verdict
- Bet on Tottenham to win on the moneyline @ best odds of +195 with 5Dimes.