Manchester United v Spurs, Monday 27th August, 19:45
Man Utd’s 3-2 defeat to Brighton flattered their dismal performance and it would be a surprise if Mourinho didn’t switch things up at the back, either by a direct change in personnel or a switch to a back three, while they missed the relentless energy and drive provided by Alexis Sanchez.
The Chile international may or may not feature, though he’s handed Mourinho a boost by returning to training earlier than expected and even should he miss out once more, Anthony Martial will likely be dropped to the bench following another insipid display against the Seagulls. That would present an opportunity for either Jesse Lingard or Marcus Rashford, both of whom clearly seem to hold more of the manager’s faith when compared with the unsettled Frenchman, and there’s plenty of reason to think United will return to action with a positive result.
Brighton held the worst record in the division on their travels last term, but they were no pushovers at the Amex and would have finished 8thin the table based on home results only, while they were a respectable W2-D1-L3 hosting the top six.
One of those victories also came against United but while Mourinho suffered seven defeats last season, United won their next game on six occasions, including triumphs over top-six sides Chelsea and Spurs themselves following shock losses away at Newcastle and Huddersfield respectively. They haven’t lost two games on the trot since May 2017 and indeed, only two of those seven defeats last term came at Old Trafford as their recent record hosting top-six sides has been excellent.
Indeed, United have won five of their last six hosting such teams, with the exception a 2-1 defeat to Pep’s conquering City. All four of these victories that came last season were by just the single goal, with the last three such encounters finishing 2-1.
By contrast, Spurs have been poor travellers as they’re W2-D7-L11 away to the ‘Big Six’ since Pochettino pitched up in North London and just W1-D3-L6 over the past two seasons. They’ve lost to nil in all four trips to Old Trafford under the Argentine, and so the value certainly lies with the Red Devils – who have won 16 of 20 fixtures at Old Trafford since the start of last season.
Neither of these sides have kept a clean sheet in the new campaign yet and with that in mind we fancy both teams to score, especially as it’s occurred in eight of Spurs’ last 11 versus the ‘Big Six’.
Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof were culpable for two of the goals United shipped against the Seagulls, but even should Mourinho change things around at the back, both sides have found the net in six of United’s last seven versus the ‘Big Six’ and in eight of the last 11 at home. Of the last nine of these at the Theatre of Dreams, United only conceded more than once on a single occasion, but never managed to score more than twice themselves, so another 2-1 correct score stands out.
United are boosted further by the absence of Son Heung-min, who is currently away on international duty. The South Korean has becoming increasingly important for Spurs as he’s reached double figures in each of the past two campaigns, as they’ve lost 38% of their games without him in the starting line-up since the start of last season, compared with just 7% when he’s been present.
However, despite that poor record, they’ve still managed to find the net in all but two of the 13 matches he’s missed in that time. Given Harry Kane has a less than inspiring record of just one goal in nine matches across all competitions against United, while Romelu Lukaku has an even worse record of one goal in 11 versus Spurs, there’s an opportunity to get a great price on Paul Pogba to score anytime, having already netted twice from the spot this term.
*all odds are subject to change