Analysis

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United: Solskjaer out to derail Mourinho’s Top 4 ambitions?

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It is the endgame for Jose Mourinho and this is how it starts. Tottenham Hotspur, adrift of West Ham in 4th by three points have to start winning games at some point and while that is easier said than done, with Manchester United on the weekend, Solskjaer would love nothing more than to kick Mourinho off the Top 4 race. 

There were a lot of ruffled feathers when Tottenham visited Old Trafford early in the season as Anthony Martial was sent off after some dramatics by Erik Lamela, however, Spurs went on to batter the Red Devils 1-6 at home, and Solskjaer’s job was in a world of uncertainty after the game.

The tables have, however, turned now as with less than 2 months until the league ends and it is Mourinho who is hoping he isn’t fired by Daniel Levy. Solskjaer, on the other hand, is on a roll as his team secured a 2-0 away win against Granada in their Europa League quarter-final tie and are all set to ease through to the semi-final of the competition. 

Jose Mourinho on thin ice

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Mourinho is skating on thin ice at Tottenham and Daniel Levy looks like he has had enough. For long, a Europa League trophy was the only sense of security Mourinho was offering to the club, however, a 3-0 capitulation away at Zagreb knocked Tottenham out of the cup competition.

While Tottenham do still have the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City and it is a one-off game, Man City are heavy favourites and they will be going in hard for the game as Pep looks to win 4 trophies this term. In such cases, the only reasonable chance of finishing in the Champions League next season is by finishing in the Top 4 and Tottenham aren’t looking good for that either. 

While Harry Kane will show up against, Mourinho is not quite sure if the others will. Son Heung-Min might finally be fit again and will mostly start against United on Sunday. However, apart from the two forwards, the others have been lacklustre in terms of energy, ideas, and creativity. 

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg who was amazing at the start of the season doesn’t have the legs anymore to stop opponents while Tanguy Ndombele’s form has also fallen off a cliff even though he provided an assist last weekend against Newcastle United. Toby Alderweireld and Serge Aurier are out of favour with Mourinho and all in all, the club is in turmoil. 

A win would go a long way, however, a disastrous performance against Newcastle United last weekend has put a whole lot of pressure on the game on the weekend. Mourinho would be aware of United’s vulnerabilities through set-pieces while he can also use the pace of Son behind Kane as he did so the first time the sides met this season in October. 

Mourinho’s bubble is going to crumble soon and a win against his old foes in United on Sunday evening will do him a whole lot good and Spurs will need to rise for their manager if they have any hope of finishing in the Top 4 this season.

Solsjkaer to put Mourinho out of the Top 4 race?

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The successor to Mourinho at United, Solsjkaer is showing the critics the fruits of patience, something Mourinho would have wished for at United. 

Like Mourinho, Solskjaer would remember the 6-1 battering of United at the start of the season at the hands of Tottenham, however, with United on a roll now, Solskjaer will be out for vengeance. 

A hard-fought victory against Granada on Thursday night has assured Solskjaer an easier 2nd leg next week and there were a lot of positives from the game. United pressed from the front, defended like a solid team, and also had Marcus Rashford back from injury, however, the Englishman was substituted after an hour as Solskjaer knew Rashford is not fit for the entire 90 minutes. 

Rashford however, did look fit as he scored the 1st goal against the Spanish opposition as the 23-year-old ran behind the Granada backline to slot home a ball he controlled delightfully. Manchester United’s talisman this season in Bruno Fernandes slotted home a penalty in the dying minutes to take a 2-0 lead back to Old Trafford for the 2nd leg. 

However, Luke Shaw will be fit for the game on the weekend as he got some well-deserved rest against Granada as Alex Telles deputized for the English full-back. A surprise starter against Tottenham could be Donny van de Beek, who changed the complexion of United’s game last weekend against Brighton as United won 2-1 with the winner coming only a minute after Van de Beek’s introduction in the game.

With Anthony Martial out, Mason Greenwood is experiencing a good run of form and Solskjaer will be hoping that the youngster can continue this run against Tottenham on the weekend. The backline, albeit conceding nothing against Granada could’ve easily lost the game for United against Brighton and it needs some tightening up.

 Manchester United, now 2nd in the table, will be hoping to cement a place in the Top 4 soon and Tottenham could be the first martyrs to that process on Sunday evening.

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