Match Review: Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur

Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 22.56.37Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham heaped more misery on Manchester United and Jose Mourinho by inflicting a second successive defeat on the home side, with a 3-0 victory thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Lucas Moura.

Mourinho’s side were on the receiving end of an embarrassing defeat at Brighton last weekend and although the performance against Spurs was much improved, United saw no dividends, as a clinical Spurs side exposed the weaknesses of the hosts.

In the first half, it was United on top. Romelu Lukaku missed a clear cut chance when Danny Rose sold Lloris short with a backpass and that was one of many chances United had in a half that they should have took the lead. Despite this, Spurs had a penalty turned down for an obvious foul by Phil Jones.

Spurs scored two goals in quick succession via a Harry Kane header and Lucas Moura, before the latter netted again with a brilliant goal on the counter attack.

Talking Points

Spurs are the real deal 

It’s that time of the year again. We are not even a month into the season and fans are starting to re-think their pre-season predictions that Spurs won’t have enough to challenge for the title. Just like last season and the season before that, those fans are starting to think: “Wait a minute, Spurs are the real deal!”

By now, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. It would seem that reports of the demise of a good old title race are greatly exaggerated. Whilst Man City may be too good for the opposition, Spurs have now joined Chelsea and Liverpool (and Watford) in maintaining their 100 percent start to the season.

Pre match, Harry Kane said to be considered as real title contenders, Spurs must win at places like Old Trafford. The World Cup golden boot winner has his wish.

A lot of the talk going into the season for Spurs was whether they had enough goals beyond talisman Kane, or whether there was a potent threat on the counter charge, as well as criticising Spurs’ transfer window, which saw zero new faces.

Whilst not signing a player may still come back to bite them, Lucas Moura is looking like a new signing.

Joining in January from PSG, the Brazilian had a tough start to life in North London, but in the first weeks of the new season, he is looking worth the money. He was the man of the match tonight and gave Spurs a dimension that we have not seen before. He was good in possession, made clever runs off Harry Kane in the central role but more importantly he scored two goals.

If Lucas and Spurs can carry on this form, Spurs will be right up there in May. They now have a settled squad with young but experienced players that are entering the better part of their career. Lucas will take some of the burden off Harry Kane, which will allow Pochettino’s men to thrive.

Alderweireld shows United exactly what they are crying out for 

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As has been highlighted previously, United’s issues run deeper than on the pitch. Part of that argument was the inadequacy in past transfer windows. One main target for United this summer was Spurs’ Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld, who Woodward refused to pay big money for, citing his age.

The Spurs defender, who started consecutive league games for the first time since November, was a wall at the back for Spurs.

The impact of Lucas feeling like a new signing has been noted, but keeping Alderweireld at the club is a deal is as important to Spurs as any reinforcement would have been.

As he was against Fulham last week, Alderweireld was dominant at the heart of the Spurs defence, snuffing out United attacks and using the ball brilliantly. His reading of the game was excellent and after a nervy start for the away side, Alderweireld was the best player on the pitch, alongside Lucas Moura.

It is no surprise Jose Mourinho wanted a defender so much, as he had to sit through another painful defensive performance. Last weekend, Eric Bailly put in a laughable performance at the AMEX. This week, it was both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, who both had calamitous evenings, not to mention Ander Herrera, who started as an auxiliary centre-half ahead of Victor Lindelof who came on and looked no better.

Alderweireld and Vertonghen both look sharp and the defensive duo that has been blighted by injuries for the best part of 18 months look to be back to their best. As for United, defensive issues could cost them a lot of points this season.

Time to go, Jose? 

After three games, it would be rash to call for any managers head. It would be an overreaction of epic proportions to say Jose and United are completely out of the running this season.

But… if any inferences are to be made, they are to be extremely negative ones.

“Goals are an incredible vitamin and goals conceded are an overdose of fatigue”

The words of Mourinho after the whistle were, as ever, confusing yet interesting. He obviously believes his side deserved much more than the scoreline suggests. Evidently, Mourinho feels sorry for himself and his ‘United’ dressing room that he swore by and emphasised in the post match interview with Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves.

It was better than the display on the south coast last Sunday, but a 3-0 loss at Old Trafford is unacceptable.

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Next up for Mourinho’s men is Burnley, Watford and Wolves. Anything less than nine points will see even more questions asked of United, in fixtures they should win but on the same token, games that are far from easy.

Should United not turn this dreadful start round, the vultures will start to circle faster and the Portuguese coach could be heading for an early door in his third season in Manchester.

Player Ratings

United: De Gea 4; Herrera 4; Smalling 2, Jones 2; Valencia 6, Matic 5, Fred 6, Shaw 7; Lingard 7.5, Pogba 3; Lukaku 5.

The back three were terrible from start to finish. Jones could have and was lucky not to give away a penalty in the first half for a clumsy challenge, lost his man on Kane’s corner and was lucky that he wasn’t punished from other set pieces. Smalling was at fault for at least one of Lucas’ strikes, and Herrera looked out of place in the back three, despite looking good on the ball.

If any positives are to be drawn on an individual level it is the performance of Jesse Lingard, who was United’s best player, especially in the first half. Off the back of a good World Cup, Lingard was a constant source of energy, starting attacks and linking play well. A couple of times he played the simple ball rather than shooting or passing forward, which he must improve.

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Spurs: Lloris 7.5; Trippier 7, Alderweireld 9, Vertonghen 7, Rose 6; Dier 7, Dembele 6; Eriksen 8, Alli 6; Kane 8, Lucas Moura 9 (MOTM).

Lucas Moura has put his name forward for August’s player of the month in the Premier League with another great performance. The two goals were well taken, especially his second, which came from a run down the middle through the defence. Lucas adds a new dimension to Spurs’ attack, which must be pleasing for Pochettino.

Harry Kane, who isn’t fully fit, looks to be adding more to his game each week. Today brought a goal and assist for Spurs’ main man, as he dropped deep more often to support the buildup, something Pochettino has clearly been working on. After the international break, Kane will be fully fit, which is surely a scary thought for defenders.

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