Their opening fixture against Everton maybe have been called off due to the London riots last weekend, but Tottenham will be optimistic going into their first game of the season against Manchester United off the back of a 5-0 win in the Europa League play-off round. While the home side got the defence of their title underway last weekend with a 2-1 win against West Brom.
With Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Rafael all out of the game due to various ailments – it will be a largely unfamiliar back four/five that will start the game for the current Premier League holders. Chris Smalling – who has already covered at right-back in the Community Shield and against West Brom looks set to continue to deputise there, while Phil Jones looks likely to partner Jonny Evans in the centre of defence, with Patrice Evra returning at left-back.
“The responsibility will lie with Jones, Evans, Smalling and De Gea,” “I don’t see it as a challenge for these players; it is a responsibility.” Those are the words of Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of the game – once again showing his support for youth. Not many fans would have expected those players propping up the back four so soon but a lot of questions of the youngsters will be answered in the next couple of games.
David de Gea has been subject to many questions after two blips in his opening two games – but there are two stats which are particularly interesting in relation to this game. De Gea conceded more goals from distance than any other keeper in La Liga last season (11). On the other hand, Spurs scored 15 goals from outside the penalty area in the Premier League last season – four more than any other side. So if a side is going to test the Spaniard from distance, it will be Tottenham.
Gareth Bale has already identified this: “If any keeper’s having a bad time, you’re going to test them and it’s going to be no different,” “We’re going to go to Old Trafford and give our all and test their time.”
However – Spurs have not won at Old Trafford since 1989. Ferguson was still awaiting the first trophy of his reign and Gary Lineker was playing the last time Spurs won. Harry Redknapp already looks to be done to the bare bones of his squad, even before the season has begun – fielding two keepers on the bench during last Thursday Europa League clash.
Ledley King, Alan Hutton, William Gallas, Steven Pienaar and Sandro are all out of the game due to injury while Peter Crouch is a doubt with an ankle injury. Doubts continue to remain over the future of Luka Modric, while Redknapp is confident of securing the loan signing of Emmanuel Adebayor from Manchester City while also buying Lassana Diarra.
It’ll be a baptism of fire at home for United’s new look back five – can Spurs capitalise and gain their first win at Old Trafford in 22 years?