Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United: Five players under the spotlight

Assou Ekotto

Spurs are attempting to pull off a remarkable double over the league leaders, whilst United are hoping to avenge the Old Trafford defeat from early in the season. Which players will be keenest to impress in this Super Sunday clash?

Scott Parker

With it looking increasingly likely that Sandro will be out for an extended spell, Tottenham Hotspur are going to be heavily reliant on Scott Parker in the second half of the season. The England midfielder was superb for Spurs for most of last year, although he tired over the final few matches. This year his injury problems and Sandro's form have kept him on the side-lines, so he should be fresh for the next few months, and he'll kick off his return to the starting eleven with one of the hardest fixtures possible. Spurs will need him to be up to the challenge.

Shinji Kagawa

The Japanese midfielder arrived in Manchester with a big reputation, but an early injury has stopped him from really making an impression on the Premier League so far. Kagawa is now match fit, and will likely be crucial to United's cause in the second half of the season. You sense the midfielder needs a big performance to really settle in the Premier League, and going away to Spurs, where he will likely get plenty of time on the ball, could give a chance to impress.

Jermain Defoe

One goal in his last seven matches has seen Spurs' main striker fall out of form at exactly the wrong time for his team. Adebayor has now left for the African Cup of Nations, and if Defoe isn't taking his chances, then Spurs will struggle to score enough goals to beat a side like Manchester United. With Spurs having trouble securing another striker this January, Defoe is going to be crucial to their chances of Champions League qualification, and a return to form against United this weekend would be ideally timed.

Nemanja Vidic

Still inching his way back to full fitness United had another scare last weekend when the Serbian defender went off injured against Liverpool. Vidic has been declared fit since then, but will have to be at his best against a Spurs attack where Lennon and Bale will be happy to cut in off their flanks to run at pace at the centre of United's defence. The weekend's match should be an accurate bellwether of how close Vidic is to his best form.

Kyle Naughton/Benoit Assou-Ekotto

Spurs main selection dilemma this weekend will come at left back, and whoever fills the place will be under the microscope. Naughton has improved in recent matches, but is still young and keen to get the ball on his right foot as much as possible whilst Assou-Ekotto is close to returning to fitness, but might not be ready for such an important match. Antonio Valencia and Rafael have delivered some of their best performances against bigger sides who have given them more room to play, and there are questions over both Naughton and Assou-Ekotto that could be highlighted by United's attacking play.

image: © jtadych

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