- Published: Friday, 27 October 2017 07:50
Setting the scene… For the first time in almost a month, United will be in action at Old Trafford this weekend for what is always an eagerly awaited fixture and especially since Spurs became bona fide title challengers. This battle between the second and third-placed teams, who have the same tally of 20 points after nine games, seems an apt way to open the Premier League weekend. Both sides, who had contrasting results in the Carabao Cup in midweek, know that three crucial points are at stake in a bid to put pressure on leaders Manchester City, so we could be in for a fascinating encounter.
How can I watch it? Saturday’s big game will kick off at 13:30 and will be broadcast live on Supersport. @MUSCSA will be at the Keg and Beagle in Linksfield from 12pm.
How are we shaping up? Following four successive away games in three different competitions, the Reds return to Old Trafford for the first time since beating Crystal Palace 4-0 on 30 September, hoping to maintain the 100 per cent home record so far this season. Jose Mourinho's charges should be confident going into the game, after continuing the defence of the Carabao Cup by seeing off Swansea City 2-0 on Tuesday night. That was the perfect response to last weekend’s surprise defeat at Huddersfield Town, which ended the Reds' impressive 10-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
What's the team news? The boss confirmed after the cup win at Swansea that Phil Jones has declared himself available for the game, having been withdrawn at Huddersfield through injury last Saturday, while fellow defenders Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo are thought to be close to returning to full fitness. However, there is no further news yet on midfielders Paul Pogba, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini, although Mourinho could give a further update on the current injury situation in his pre-match press conference on Friday. Meanwhile, Danny Rose and Mousa Dembele could feature for Spurs after returning from injury in their Carabao Cup defeat at home to West Ham United, a game for which boss Mauricio Pochettino made seven changes, but midfielders Erik Lamela and Victor Wanyama are expected to be sidelined once again.
What's our record like against them? Historically, the Reds have a strong record against the north London club, registering 87 wins and 49 draws in 186 previous meetings in all competitions stretching back as far as 1899. In more recent times, United have won 32 of the teams’ 50 Premier League encounters, including the last three in a row at Old Trafford. Spurs have managed just seven wins and have held the Reds to 11 draws. Both home teams emerged victorious last season, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s first Premier League goal earning Jose Mourinho's men a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford before United were beaten 2-1 in the final game played at White Hart Lane in May.
Clean sheet kings… Saturday’s game brings together the two goalkeepers with the most shut-outs in the Premier League so far this season. David De Gea leads the way with seven clean sheets so far, having conceded just four goals thus far in the away games at Stoke and Huddersfield, while Spurs skipper Hugo Lloris has kept the opposition at bay on five occasions in the league but he has only one previous clean sheet against the Reds to his name – in a goalless draw at White Hart Lane in 2014.
Battle of the strikers… Trying to spoil the afternoon for the keepers will be two frontmen who have made impressive starts to the season. Romelu Lukaku has begun life at United in blistering form, scoring 11 goals in his first 11 appearances and, although he hasn’t found the net in his last four outings, the Belgian will be confident of making his mark as he seeks a first win against Spurs in his career. As mentioned above, Tottenham forward Kane has been in fine goalscoring form in the league this season, picking up from where he left off last term when he claimed the Golden Boot with 29 goals. He'll be raring to go after being rested in the Carabao Cup but the England striker has often found it tough against United in the past and only scored his first goal against the Reds in our last meeting back in May.