Just Bad Luck?
There comes a time when you have to wonder if there’s something else behind Manchester United’s bad run beyond misfortune. They’ve definitely done enough to win most of their recent matches.
But they need to convert the chances they create when they’re on top. On Sunday you could see the confidence ebbing away the longer it took to land the killer blow. United were in trouble long before Fellaini’s silly foul for the penalty.
It’s almost impossible to get your head around Mourinho's treatment of Mkhitaryan. It would have made more sense if the Armenian midfielder was still out of the team: That would at least have been consistent from Mourinho.
The reality was that the Bundesliga player of the year has always been good enough to play for United, and any issues were cooked up by his new manager. But now Mkhitaryan is finding himself flung into the team mid-season and instantly under pressure to perform.
It doesn’t look like great man management.
Odds-on to Crumble
Then you look at United’s record late on in games, and you get an even clearer picture of their shortfalls. United have lost eight points this season by conceding in the last ten minutes of games.
That record hints at a lack of togetherness in the side. And it’s all in stark contrast to the Alex Ferguson days when United were notoriously strong at the end of matches.
Cause for Optimism
And yet, despite all of the problems plaguing the side, United have played pretty well recently, despite the score-lines. There’s a balance in midfield at last, with Herrera and Carrick giving licence to Pogba to burst forward.
In defence Darmian suddenly looks pretty useful at left-back. He’s much faster than Daley Blind and more assured than Marcos Rojo. Darmian has a similar profile to Azpilicueta, another right-back who filled in well on the left under Mourinho, so it will be interesting to see how he progresses.
Time to Tip Spurs
Tottenham’s have been very ordinary for the last couple of months. But these results have all coincided with an injury crisis that claimed Alderweireld, Kane and Lamela, three of their stars.
There’s a strong chance that all three will be back in the team on Sunday, which makes Tottenham formidable opposition once more.
A Quiet Week
Whatever happens in the match against CSKA on Wednesday, Spurs will be rested come the weekend. Now that the knockouts of the Champions League are out of reach it’s unlikely that Pochettino is going to risk anyone important to ensure a Europa League berth.
Without doubt, it’s a travesty that Spurs haven’t managed to progress from such a straightforward group. And it definitely reflects badly on the Premier League, which hasn’t had a CL winner in more than four years.
But this week alone, that European failure is not such a bad thing as they can rest up before a big fixture on Sunday.
Just a couple of weeks after we backed Pochettino to drop Christian Eriksen, the Dane has sprung back into form, with three goals in two matches.
He wasn’t the only one who looked revived in the thrashing of Swansea as Dele Alli had his best match in ages. Two game-changers are coming to the boil at just the right time to put Mourinho under even more pressure at United.
Manchester United vs Tottenham Match Prediction
To give you a sense of how little there is between these two teams, the last six fixtures have given us two wins for Man United, two wins for Spurs and two draws.
But this week the circumstances have shifted in Tottenham’s favour. With a full-strength team Spurs can bring back the sparkling football that won so many neutrals over last season.
And they’re the last thing a stuttering United want to see right now. So, odds of 3.75 for an away win looks a decent price to us.