Well...I guess frustrating 1-0 losses at Old Trafford are becoming a thing now. Last year Spurs lost 1-0 away to Manchester United, and this year they’ve repeated that feat.
Tottenham had their chances at the “Theater of Dreams”, but they couldn’t get back into the game to salvage something after going behind. The loss means Spurs have missed their opportunity to overtake Manchester City and move into fourth place.
The defeat is the third in a row for Spurs, and for Mauricio Pochettino at Old Trafford. In those three games the aggregate scoreline is 5-0 in favor of United.
Jose Mourinho’s team were often content to play on the counter attack, so Spurs had quite a bit more possession. But again Tottenham couldn’t find the final ball to really open up the United defense and make a breakthrough.
Pochettino’s starting lineup sparked excitement among Spurs fans, as it featured Toby Alderweireld for the first time since he got injured against West Brom on October 15th. Eric Dier was the player to make way for Alderweireld, with Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama partnering in midfield.
The away side defended well in the first half and throughout the game, but they were undone by a giveaway in the midfield 29 minutes into the match. Kane played a square ball, without really knowing who was around him, and United pounced. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was played in on goal and smashed the ball past Hugo Lloris to finally tally his first in the Premier League.
Spurs pressured and kept the ball in the second half, but again they didn’t create a ton of chances.
xG map for United - Spurs. United were better if not dominant. All year long teams have scored that Wanyama chance against them. Not today. pic.twitter.com/8oMvdEhBiW— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) December 11, 2016
As you can see from our friend Michael Caley’s graphic, one chance stood out for Tottenham. It was a header for Victor Wanyama after a well-worked free kick that found Vic all alone in front of goal. The Kenyan international really should’ve done better, but he headed the ball into the ground and wide.
It was a frustrating moment symbolic of a frustrating afternoon.
Christian Eriksen also tested David De Gea a few times from free kicks, but Spurs’ other attacking players struggled to impact the game. Harry Kane was quiet, and Dele was ineffective. It was the type of game that might have been a bit different had Erik Lamela been fit to play.
Tottenham did get a surprising boost from Moussa Sissoko when he came on in the 57th minute. It was far and away Sissoko’s best performance in a Spurs shirt as of yet. He was willing to run by defenders on his wing, and even played in a few good crosses afterwards.
But overall it was a sobering night for Tottenham. Manchester United close the gap on us to three points, and we lose ground on key rivals at the top of the table.
The fixtures pick up a bit now for Spurs, but the next two are quite winnable. Our position in the table will be a bit better if we can take six points from Hull City and Burnley when we see them next week.