Can Spurs do the double over United?

Tottenham Hotspur will host Premier League leaders Manchester United this Sunday after a superb victory for Spurs in the previous encounter at Old Trafford where they won by a 3-2 score line back in September.

Andre Villas-Boas' side now sit reasonably comfortably in 4th place just one point behind Chelsea and three points clear of Everton.

There is no uncertainly that it would take something very special for any team to beat Manchester United both at home and away but there are many reasons for Spurs’ fans to be optimistic about their team’s chances heading into this weekend’s clash.

Spurs beat United in many ways because of their diligence in defence but, more crucially, their attacking ambition – Villas-Boas had clearly set his tactics and his team’s mentality to the fixture in a positive and self-assured manner. They believed they could beat United and, consequently, they did.

They must adopt the same counter-attacking mentality for the home fixture – they cannot afford to be meek and expect to absorb pressure for 90 minutes. They can relieve themselves of pressure by playing their natural brand of attacking possession-retention football but, crucially, they must chances that will undoubtedly come their way.

They may find this approach suits the game, in their favour, as they have tended to struggle against teams who sit deep and adopt more defensive mentalities and try to break up their play. United will attack from the first whistle and that will inevitably leave them vulnerable to Spurs’ counter-attacks.

In midfield, especially in the first-half I’d expect to see a power struggle for possession. Spurs will want to dominate the play on their own turf and their fans will be just as keen for them to do so.

However, United will want to do exactly the same and it will likely be in the centre of the park where the game will be won and lost – it is important that players like Moussa Dembele and Scott Parker compensate effectively for the loss of Sandro through injury.

Parker will likely be tasked with much the same role as Michael Carrick for United – to intercept the creative and passing play from the opposition and move the ball forwards to the attacking players as swiftly and directly as possible. The more effective of the two midfielders at this very specific job will likely find himself on the winning side.

Spurs will also need to make the most of their set pieces – United have struggled at times this season with aerial threats and in Jan Vertonghen, Michael Dawson and Steven Caulker Spurs have dangerous targets to aim for in the box.

Spurs will need to press United high up and all over the pitch – United have struggled away this season against teams that press, hassle and hurry them on the ball.

Spurs are one of the best teams in the top four at pressing – they cannot afford to give United’s creative and technically gifted players like Robin van Persie, and Wayne Rooney and time or space on the ball. If they can shackle those who players as best they can, they will nullify United biggest threats.

image: © Denise&David

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