Mauricio Pochettino takes his Tottenham Hotspur side to Old Trafford on Sunday as focus turns back to Premier League matters, after both clubs secured Europa League football for the new year with wins in midweek.
It is fifth against sixth, but there is a gap as Manchester United lie six points behind their opponents. After a series of draws has dropped United points that were badly required, Jose Mourinho’s men need a win and in fact, a run of wins in the Christmas period to keep their top four hopes alive.
Meanwhile, Spurs bounced back from the defeat at Stamford Bridge with an emphatic 5-0 thumping victory against Swansea City last weekend. Crucially for them, Harry Kane is back and among the goals.
It is a difficult fixture to predict but it is expected to be a cracker as United vs Spurs games have produced plenty of goals down through the years. The neutral will hope that Sunday is no different.
Who would make a combined XI?
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
An almost impossible choice between the two best shot stoppers in the Premier League and arguably world football. Lloris and De Gea have pulled of countless spectacular saves for their respective teams. However, the Spaniard just about gets the nod here but realistically it was a toss up.
Defence: Kyle Walker, Toby Alderweireld, Eric Bailly, Danny Rose
Antonio Valencia has been one of United’s best players this season is a firm favourite of Mourinho’s but Walker is a more natural right back and he has improved tremendously under Pochettino from an error prone defender to a confident attacking full back.
Alderweireld is a shoe-in and is one of the best defenders in the Premier League. The Belgian reportedly has a £25 million release clause which is a bargain these days with the lack of quality defenders out there.
Bailly’s return from injury is a blessing and the all action Ivorian defender has all the attributes to be a world class central defender. Danny Rose comfortably slots into the left back position given the uncertainty in the area for United and Luke Shaw’s niggling injury issues.
Midfield: Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Dele Alli, Henrikh Mkhitaryan
This would be a midfield diamond with Michael Carrick sitting at the base. Tottenham have several physically fit athletes in central midfield but the lack of technique and guile in this area is a weakness and this cost them in the Champions League. Carrick has that football brain which gives the freedom for other players to venture forward. United are always a much better proposition with Carrick in the team.
Herrera’s aggression and energy would compliment Dele Alli’s ability on the ball. The number ten position was contentious with Christian Eriksen and Juan Mata unlucky to lose out but Mkhitaryan would walk into any side in the Premier League. He was incredible for Dortmund last season and his quality is finally being given the chance to shine in a United shirt and what a joy he is to watch.
Attack: Harry Kane and Zlatan Ibrahimovic
These two strikers are bang in form and should be up near the top of the Premier League goal scoring charts come the end of the season. It would not be a surprise if Kane for Tottenham and Zlatan for United had a big influence on Sunday.
Vincent O’Shea, Pundit Arena
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