Manchester United host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday in a key fixture in the race for Champions League qualification via a top-four finish.
However, United’s performances for the most part this season have been far from convincing and they were disappointingly second best during last weekend’s 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final loss to Arsenal.
It’s a fixture which has an edgy feel to it – the corresponding encounter ending up a 0-0 stalemate – and the game could ultimately come down to a number of key clashes all over the pitch.
Strikers Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane are in good form and the result may hinge on their goal scoring expertise on the day, but more likely the game will be decided in a key midfield duel.
Daley Blind vs Nabil Bentaleb
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Both players have proved themselves to be vitally important to their respective teams this season, offering protection in front of defence and an outlet in order to build possession.
According to the table provided by Opta Stats, it’s tough to separate them in terms of effectiveness via statistics as they both post remarkably similar figures over the current campaign.
Defensively, they both average the same number of tackles per encounter, though Blind has recorded on average more interceptions and effective clearances during his 16 Premier League outings this season.
Bentaleb, on the other hand, comes out on top in winning the defensive duels and has developed a handy knack of picking up second balls – illustrated by his average of 6.44 ball recoveries per match.
United average more possession than the Lilywhites, and with Blind key to their style of play it is of little surprise to see him dominate the passing stats with an average club high 89.6% completion rate.
In a key battle with little to separate the duo, their presence epitomises the closeness of the two teams on current form and what makes the fixture a punters nightmare when predicting the overall outcome.