Football Features

Tottenham vs Man Utd predictions & team news: Five things we think will happen

By Chris Smith

Published: 9:00, 29 October 2021

Tottenham host Manchester United on Saturday at 5:30pm (UK time) with both sides in desperate need of a morale-boosting victory.

Spurs beat Burnley 1-0 in the EFL Cup in midweek, but only after consecutive 1-0 defeats to West Ham and Vitesse, with Nuno Espirito Santo still searching for an attacking formula at present.

You could argue things are much worse for Man Utd, who head to north London off the back of a 5-0 humiliation at home to arch-rivals Liverpool, while they’ve won just four of their last 10 matches across all competitions.


Premier League title odds with William Hill

  • Man City – 19/20
  • Liverpool – 11/4
  • Chelsea – 3/1
  • Man Utd – 66/1
  • West Ham – 150/1

18+ only. Be Gamble Aware. All odds in this article are correct at 10:00, 28/10/2021.


Both sides are currently outside the Champions League spots and need to get their season kick-started before it slips away even at this early stage. Read on for our preview of the weekend’s action, including predicted starting XIs.

1. Tottenham’s starting XI will be…

Given their recent slump, there aren’t many places in Spurs’ starting line-up that are truly safe. But one man we do fully expect to retain his place is goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who is third in the Premier League for saves this season.

Sergio Reguilon and Emerson Royal will hold their spots at full-back, with Matt Doherty returning to fitness but not yet ready to challenge for a starting berth. And Cristian Romero will anchor the defence. But he might well be partnered with Davinson Sanchez who put in a Man-of-the-Match performance against Burnley in midweek. The Colombian made a match-high 13 clearances and won more aerial duels than any other player on the pitch (seven). He also made two tackles and wasn’t dribbled past at all. Eric Dier will be the man to step down.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp will provide the shield in front of the Spurs backline, which should allow the full-backs to press forward, providing width and applying pressure on the Man Utd defence.

Lucas Moura was probably Spurs’ biggest threat against West Ham so he’ll keep his place. And while Harry Kane and Son Heung-min aren’t exactly firing on all cylinders, they can tear any Premier League defence apart on any given day, and simply have to start. Tanguy Ndombele will probably be the man tasked with glueing everything together — his form is generally trending upward.

2. Man Utd’s starting XI will be…

Most managers would be tempted to make sweeping changes following last week’s result against Liverpool. But for as long as Ole has been at the wheel, that hasn’t been the way. The Norwegian shows immense faith in his players.

David de Gea is level with Lloris for saves and will continue his busy defence of the Man Utd goalmouth. His task will be made a little easier by the return of Raphael Varane, which should hopefully allow Harry Maguire to focus on his own tasks too. The England international has been pulled all over the place recently but is an excellent defender when not carrying the load of an entire backline.

There’s an argument to be made that Diogo Dalot would offer far more going forward than Aaron Wan-Bissaka, but keeping the backdoor shut is the priority for the Red Devils on Saturday. Luke Shaw will obviously continue at left-back.

Fred put in another dreadful performance against Liverpool. In a bid to protect the defence, we could see Scott McTominay partnered with Nemanja Matic, though options are admittedly thin in this area — especially with Paul Pogba suspended.

Cristiano Ronaldo will continue up- front, just ahead of Bruno Fernandes, while Marcus Rashford will cut in from the left to get shots on goal. On the right, it’s anyone’s guess. Jadon Sancho continues to be frustrated by a lack of minutes, Mason Greenwood is showing the inconsistency of youth, and Anthony Martial is unlikely to be fit enough to start.

Perhaps Jesse Lingard deserves a chance to shine. After all, he did score the winner in a 2-1 triumph in his last meeting with Spurs while on loan at West Ham last season.

3. Son to continue hot streak vs Man Utd

It took a while, but it seems like Son finally has the hang of playing against Man Utd. Across his first eight appearances against the Red Devils, the South Korea international failed to notch a single goal or assist. But last season, he had a hand in four goals across two games, grabbing two goals and an assist in that famous 6-1 win at Old Trafford before scoring his side’s only goal as United won 3-1 in north London.

While Son hasn’t been tearing open opposition defences at the rate he did last season, he’s still been a regular source of goals for Spurs, scoring four times in eight Premier League appearances so far. That accounts for 50% of Tottenham’s goal haul so far.

If Espirito Santo’s men are to get back on track and pick up a valuable win this weekend, you’d wager Son will have a big part to play.
William Hill are offering odds of 5/1 for Son to score first against Man Utd, while you can back him to score anytime at 13/8.

4. Varane return to restore calm in the United backline?

One of the most worrying sights during the thrashing against Liverpool was the sight of Harry Maguire haphazardly trying to hold back the likes of Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota. Time and again, the England international looked out of his depth.

But we should cut Maguire some slack. When the rest of your defence is so incompetent, it can often reflect quite badly on yourself. Indeed, as illustrated by the event count below (aerial duels, ball recoveries, blocked passes, challenges, clearances, fouls, interceptions and tackles), Maguire was attempting to put out fires right across the United backline.

But Maguire is set to be boosted this weekend by the return of Raphael Varane, who was spotted in full training on Wednesday having not featured since picking up an injury in the Nations League final against Spain.

Varane isn’t a one-man solution, but he does add a level of calm and competence the rest of Maguire’s defensive colleagues simply cannot. And in the 337 minutes they’ve played together in the Premier League this season, the Red Devils have allowed just two goals.

As much as tactics play a part, football can sometimes just be about getting your best players on the field together at the same time, allowing them to be the problem-solvers.

5. Unhappy stalemate

Both teams desperately need a win here and that will likely mean one of two things: two sides going hammer and tongs for as many goals as possible, or a tepid stalemate with neither looking to take too many risks. Either way, there’s a real risk both will cancel each other out. Especially considering just one of the last six meetings between Spurs and Man Utd have produced a win for the home team.

Scoreline prediction: Tottenham 1-1 Man Utd (11/2 with William Hill)

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