Predicted Tottenham Hotspur XI to play Manchester United - Changes in defence and formation

Match to be played on Wednesday 1st January 2014 at 17:30. Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester.

Tottenham played superbly to beat Stoke City at White Hart Lane but focus quickly turns to the immense challenge of becoming the next side to walk away from Old Trafford with all three points.

Tim Sherwood has done well to get a feel good factor back in at the club but this is a big test for him against an experienced manager in the form of David Moyes, very experienced in terms of management and tactics.

Here are the eleven players that Sherwood could select for the game.

GK – Hugo Lloris

The Frenchman is a very good goalkeeper in several aspects. He’s a very proactive ‘keeper which means he’s always on the lookout for trouble and he can relay any potential danger to his back four.

RB – Kyle Walker

Walker missed the game against Stoke because he was banned following an accumulation of yellow cards this season. However, he should return to the side and he’ll be fresh having had a rest.

CB – Michael Dawson

Dawson is the leader in the back four and he’ll have to be at the very top of his game for this match. He’s good in the air but lacks a little bit of pace on the floor, which is something United will try and exploit.

CB – Vlad Chiriches

Chiriches is settling into life as a Premier League defender but he had a very good game against a very physical Stoke side. He’ll have to be very alert if Tottenham play a high defensive line at Old Trafford.

LB – Danny Rose

Rose also missed the game against Stoke which means he should be fresh and ready to play. His pace down the left hand side will be key in dealing with the likes of Antonio Valencia but also on the counter attack.

RM – Aaron Lennon

Lennon looks very comfortable in his more familiar right midfield role. His pace will also be crucial on the counter attack and he should be determined to follow up on a good performance against Stoke.

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DM – Etienne Capoue

It would be very tempting for Sherwood to go with the 4-4-2 which has been successful for him but a defensive midfield man is a priority, as Tottenham can’t rely on one of their centre forwards to drop off if the midfield gets overrun.

CM – Paulinho

For the time that Paulinho was on the pitch against Stoke, he was world class. He got forward well and controlled the middle areas well, showing a stunning variety of passes all over the attacking third.

CM – Moussa Dembele

Dembele scored the goal of the game against Stoke City and he should stay in the middle. His power and presence in central areas will be key to Tottenham getting any sort of result from this game.

LM – Christian Eriksen

Sherwood doesn’t have too many options in terms of left midfield which means the Dane is likely to continue down that side. He’ll have to be very disciplined because United will take advantage if he tucks inside and leaves a lot of space.

However, it was one player who didn’t get on the score sheet yesterday who is getting plenty of praise and plaudits from Spurs fans for the way he controlled the midfield and the general pace of the game; Paulinho.

The Brazilian’s talent since moving from Corinthians for £17 million last summer has been clear for all to see and there are now small signs that he’s aiming for the sort of consistency which will help the club have a great second half of the season.

There were so many positive elements to the way Paulinho played against Stoke that it’s difficult to know where to start because his versatility allows him to be effective protecting the defence and also supporting the attack.

He gave a very mature performance in the middle and showed good organisation and leadership, which allowed other midfield players to break from their positions because they knew he was in control.

He also showed great awareness of the players around him, which allowed him to move the ball on quickly on the rare occasions when Stoke were able to put a little bit of pressure together and press him well.

He protects the ball well which is very important for any midfielder. He had a passing success rate of 92% before he was taken off yesterday as well as two key tackles and two interceptions during his time on the pitch.

There’s been a big debate this season over which side has the best box-to-box midfielder in the Premier League and on this evidence, if Paulinho can keep his form up then he’ll be right up there when the question is raised again in May.

Here’s what Tottenham fans made of his performance on Twitter.

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