Tottenham Hotspur fell to West Ham on Wednesday to crash out of the Carabao Cup and while its never a nice feeling to lose, it might be a welcome result for a packed fixture list. No disrespect to Carabao — the makers of Thailand’s second most popular energy drink — nor the teams still competing, but the squad isn't crying themselves to sleep over that one. Even Mauricio Pochettino said that a Carabao Cup trophy wouldn’t signal a successful season for Tottenham, which says everything anybody needs to know about how they valued that cup this season. What does signal a successful season, or at least another sure sign that we are in the midst of a fantastic one, is a 4-1 thrashing of Liverpool at Wembley. For all the torment they’ve caused Spurs over the past five years, this one felt good. Our press is better than yours!
With the win Tottenham Hotspur made some moves in the Premier League table. Manchester United lost to Huddersfield Town (yay David Wagner & German-Americans everywhere) which, with our three points, moves us into a second placed tie with them, and distances ourselves from Liverpool by seven points. Chelsea and Arsenal won, but remain four points behind Spurs, while Manchester City is looking ironclad with a five point lead in first place.
Manchester United’s August was sensational. The addition of Romelu Lukaku, along with the resurgence Paul Pogba — looking exactly like the world class player he was in Turin — saw the Red Devils smash their opposition. 4-0 victories over West Ham and Swansea, plus a 2-0 win against Leicester, saw United put nine points on the board early, yet it wasn’t just the scorelines. Mourinho’s men were demolishing teams with panache which presented the question, was the footballing world witnessing the resurrection of Manchester United?
Paul Pogba’s injury on September 12th stole the wind from United’s sails and its October hasn’t been great. A 0-0 draw to Liverpool isn’t the worst result, but that followed by a 2-1 loss to Huddersfield Town brings adversity to Manchester United for the first time this year. The team though remains potent. Romelu Lukaku leads the line and has eleven goals to his name already this season. Not far behind is Marcus Rashford with seven goals who at nineteen, continues to impress. Anthony Martial, who just turned twenty-one, has six goals and is another highly touted, not to mention expensive, young player who is having a fine campaign for United. Add in Juan Mata who continues to produce and Henrikh Mkhitaryan who has found his footing trailing only David De Gea, Lukaku, and Nemanja Matic in appearances and United are experienced, deep, and lethal in the attack.
Nemanja Matic was a great signing from United and incorporates steel and class into the defensive midfield spot. The ageless Antonio Valencia excels and is dangerous in the right-back position, while Phil Jones and Chris Smalling form a fine pairing in the center of defense, though Tottenham Hotspur certainly have the edge in that area of the field. With only four goals against all campaign though, the United defense is stout and this is indicative of Jose Mourinho’s bunkered down approach. It isn’t pretty, it never has been really, but he has players in the team this season that let his tactics play out and make Manchester United difficult to breakdown. Having David De Gea in net doesn’t hurt as well.
Its been a month of exams for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and the side has passed with excellent marks. In terms of their grand goal, the goal that makes supporters blush to say out loud, the goal to win the Premier League title, then Saturday’s match may just be the most important of all. The club has had success at Old Trafford this decade, so its not the bunkered down death trap it once was. A result away would be fantastic and further proof that this Tottenham team is a formidable opposition to any side in the world.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (UK), 7:30 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Old Trafford, London, UK
Official: Jon Moss
TV: NBCSN , Sky Sports Main Event, TSN4, TSN1, (Canada), Optus Sport, SBS (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
On the injury front Harry Kane is out, which is the worst. I really thought this was gamesmanship between Pochettino and Mourinho and Harry would start. I was wrong and we are kidding ourselves if it doesn't change the match's outlook to a dramatic degree. Victor Wanyama's knee injury keeps him sidelined for Saturday's match as well.
The question now is who starts, Llorente or Son? Llorente was brought into the team for this exact reason, but he completely changes the way we play. With Kane out will Poch abandon gameplans and just be super direct? Also, Llorente started and did quite well against Real Madrid. Poch loves his experience and the big Spaniard performed when given the chance. I think the combination of Llorente being well suited for Madrid and that the team doesn't want to change their play too much is why Son will start. Further, if Kane can't go against Madrid, Son would need to play in his stead. Sonny can bounce back, can Fernando's legs? I don't think so.
For anybody who isn't Real Madrid, its clear we've settled on our optimal formation for the season, which is a 3-4-3. In this mindset then, the lineup will begin with Hugo Lloris in net, along with a back three of Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez, and Jan Vertonghen. We knew our dutch duo were studs, its amazing how effortless Sanchez's transition to lock down a permanent place in the first eleven has been. I think Serge Aurier, while wacky at times, has overtaken Kieran Trippier as first choice right wing-back in the 3-4-3 so he starts with Ben Davies on opposite flank. Harry Winks has taken his chance an run with it, so he will start alongside Eric Dier. Finally, our front three will be Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, and Son Heung-Min.
About half the of the masthead were confident of a Spurs win, but nobody chose a whooping 4-1 triumph. Hot damn was that a sweet victory! With the weekend's results there is movement at the top of the table. Earl of Shoop, the one constant in the upper echelons of the group, distanced himself from Pardeep Cattry and regained sole possession of first place. Newcomer Joel Wertheimer continues his sizzling start and matches Cattry in a tie for second. Menno also won and is in that second place triumverate. He has also taken a picture with Ledley King IRL at White Hart Lane, which is cool.
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Standings 2017-18
|Earl of Shoop
Dustin Menno: I think this match comes down to whether Harry Kane really is injured or not. 2-1 win for Spurs if Kane plays, 0-1 to United if he sits.
Matthew Pachniuk: Had something creative written for the prediction, but then Harry Kane was ruled out. Swear words! We still battle though and show we are more than just that absolutely magnificent human being. 1-1.
Jake Meador: We did beat Man City without Kane last year. But yeah, this just got much tougher. 0-0 written all over it now, I'm afraid.
GN Punk: Old Trafford still terrifies me, but United are still missing a couple of key players and our defense should still play well. This one has draw written all over it. 1-1.
Earl of Shoop: TBD
Bryan Ashlock: TBD
Pardeep Cattry: Jose Mourinho will do what he does, and it will not be fun, but hopefully there will be a couple of goals to keep us North America based people awake. Manchester United 1-1 Tottenham.
Ed F: Mourinho’s dogged commitment to preventing football from happening- combined with the boost United will receive from the return of Phil Jones- means I can only predict a 0-0 for this one. Hope I’m wrong!
Salmon Chase: Where do THESE GUYS get off calling it OLD TRADFORD. There isn't even a NEW TRADFORD, is there? I'm American and I don't look things up! BUILD THAT WALL around Jose Mourinho. 1-1 draw.
Joe Patrick: The tough run of fixtures finally bites us in the ass. It would be shocking to make it through unbeaten, so I'll say 1-0 United in a game that looks very similar to last season's trip to Old Trafford.
Alex Greenberg: No Harry Kane, no party. 2-1 United.
Nathan Giannini: Spurs will be eager to put whatever that *gestures wildly* was on Wednesday night behind them. As long as Kane is healthy, Spurs will grind out a result. 1-1 draw.
Joel Wertheimer: Jose will set up to stymie Spurs, but Moose and Eric will dominate their Pogbaless midfield. The ball will stay between the middle third of the pitch and United's box and will end in a deathly boring 0-0 tie as American Spurs fans wonder why they woke up for the game.