Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur Preview

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Pep Guardiola could be the big winner in Saturday’s lunchtime clash between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur

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With Manchester City racing away at the top of the Premier League, the chasing pack can only try to stay in their slipstream and hope to be close enough to take advantage when the inevitable blip in the Citizens’ form eventually arrives.

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Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are City’s closest pursuers at present, but with the pair meeting in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off, there is a distinct possibility of Pep Guardiola’s team extending their current five-point lead should the game at Old Trafford finish all square.

Even if there’s a winner in the early kick-off, the losing team could find themselves eight-points adrift of Man City by the end of the day should the table-toppers secure victory at the Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion.  That would put a serious dent in any title ambitions of the losing team even at this early stage of the campaign.

The game is particularly important to the Red Devils given they have home advantage and coming as it does after last weekend’s disastrous 2-1 defeat at Huddersfield Town.

Manchester United's defender Chris Smalling (L) and Manchester United's midfielder Jesse Lingard (R)

There’s little doubt that Jose Mourinho’s version of Sir Alex Ferguson’s infamous hairdryer treatment would have been going full blast in the visitors’ dressing room post-match and a response will be demanded against Spurs.

City aside, United and Tottenham are the highest goalscorers in the Premier League this season and also boast two of the best defensive records to date.  Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane have both been in superb goalscoring form, but both could find chances are at a premium against such well-organized defences and in a game with so much at stake.

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The first-half in particular could be one in which not conceding takes precedence over being too adventurous and it would be no surprise to see the teams go in goalless at the interval.

Another factor to take into account is that both teams have Champions League fixtures in the days following this game.  United are already all but assured of their place in the knock-out stage, so the visit of Benfica on Tuesday isn’t one to be unduly concerned about.

Tottenham Hotspur's French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris

Likewise, Tottenham are very handily placed to qualify for the last 16 themselves, although they still have to go to Borussia Dortmund and on Wednesday they welcome Real Madrid to Wembley – a potential distraction perhaps?

Confidence is sky high in the Tottenham camp at present and their defence looks capable of largely nullifying the threat of Lukaku & co.  On the other hand, United are at home and Mourinho rarely deals in defeats on home turf.

It all points to this game ending with honors even, with the big winners being Guardiola and Manchester City.

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