With Manchester United facing Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday, I posed several questions to members of the TottenhamHotspur.tv forum. Read Stretford End Arising’s match preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United.
Stretford End Arising: What are your thoughts on Sunday’s game? What team is Harry likely to select and what formation will he adopt? Where will the game be won or lost?
CmonyouSpurs: I’m not really looking forward to it to be honest. Every time I have any sort of optimism as we’re about to play Man United, your lot are successful in shooting my hopes down quite emphatically. I suppose given our performances this season I should be more hopeful, but it’s just not happening for me to be honest. I think I’d be relatively pleased with a draw, elated with a win and disappointed, yet not terribly surprised if we lost the game. As for formation, I’m guessing we’ll stick to a 4-4-1-1: Gomes – Hutton, Dawson, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto – Lennon, Modric, Jenas/Palacios, Bale – van der Vaart – Defoe. Where will the game be won or lost? On the scoreboard methinks. But on a more serious note, obviously the midfield is the key area where pretty much every game is won or lost. I’m confident with 4 our of our 5 midfield slots, the only one that makes me nervous being the CM slot partnering Modric. Be it Palacios or Jenas, I have reason to not be confident in either one, as Palacios, as good as a ball-winner as he is, can’t pass to save his life, and Jenas, as good as he has been when he’s come in this season, is very much prone to errors and just switching off in general which could be costly. Hopefully we can have the better of you down the flanks this time though.
HeroesComesandGoes: It would be a good game. It’s a must win for both teams. The team would be the same as the line up against Aston Villa (away). I can see us winning this to be honest.
SEA: David Beckham’s loan deal – yes please? Or no thank you? If the loan deal goes through where will Beckham fit into the squad/team? Your thoughts on recent rumours linking Spurs with Phil Neville?
CyS: Definite yes please to Becks. Mainly for his experience, attitude and mentality rather than what he’d offer on the pitch. We need a good experienced midfielder who’s pretty much been there and done it all. It would be fantastic if he could teach Azza to cross a ball too. Aside from that, I still think he has something to offer on the pitch as well. If we bring him on in the last 20 minutes or so with us winning, he could help calm us down and retain possession better, and if we’re losing he can create more chances from the wide areas by constantly bombarding the opposition with whipped crosses in. Add his set-piece threat and it seems like we’d be spoilt for choice when it comes to set-piece takes in the team with the likes of Bale, Modric, VDV and Becks all ready to take them.
HCaG: Yes please. David Beckham is a true legend and his free kicks will be deadly. He may play centre midfield or come on as a sub for Lennon. Phil Neville would be another good signing, he is versatile and experienced – which the team needs.
SEA: Redknapp has recently stated Real Madrid and Barcelona are on a different planet to United. What are your thoughts on the current United team/squad? Is Harry incorrect? Or is Fergie’s team over-achieving to remain undefeated and top of the table?
CyS: I’d have to agree with Harry to be honest. That top Spanish duo is quite simply on another level to any other club side in the world today I feel. When you consider Barca spanked Madrid 5-0, it also shows how bloody great Barca are. Man Utd’s team is quite strong all-round at the minute I guess. Defence seems as solid as ever, with Rio, Vidic and Evra being as solid as ever, Rafael seemingly coming on in leaps and bounds, and with the likes of Smalling, Evans, Brown, Neville, O’Shea, Fabio and others able to do a job as cover, though Evans has been a bit shaky this year I’ve heard, and Neville seems to be on his last legs. Midfield could seemingly use some strengthening, with Hargreaves being perma-crocked, Fletcher seemingly underperforming this year, Giggs and Scholes nearing retirement and Gibson looking lacking in certain areas of his game. Carrick seems quite solid though, most of the time, if not quite outstanding, and Anderson has seemingly improved quite a lot this season. The wings seem well covered though, with Nani upping his game, Valencia due to return from injury soon and Park always being able to do an efficient job whenever called upon. Forward areas could perhaps use some strengthening as Rooney hasn’t quite been firing on all cylinders this season and Berbatov bring inconsistent in terms of scoring goals. Plenty of good prospects coming through though, with Chicharito, Macheda, Welbeck, Obertan and perhaps Diouf I could all see being important players for you in the next decade and more. Shame things haven’t worked out for Mickey Owen though. Can’t see him staying at your club beyond this summer myself. I think you have over-achieved slightly to be undefeated at this stage of the season, however seeing you top of the table at the moment isn’t a massive shock, although I expected Chelsea to be far better challengers than they have been so far.
HCaG: Madrid and Barcelona both possesses a great squad. United on the other hand need to invest, particular with the likes of Scholes and Giggs who are old. So, I’m with Harry here.
SEA: Spurs are currently fourth in the Premier League, one point ahead of Chelsea and four behind Arsenal. Will finishing out of the top four after finishing fourth last season be classed as failure?
CyS: I guess so, but I don’t think it would be disastrous. I’m convinced that whether we finish in the top 4 again or not, the likes of Modric, Bale, VDV, Lennon etc. will all still remain at the club unless silly money is offered. It would be disappointing to finish out of the top 4 this year, but when you look at how strong City have gotten and with you lot, Arsenal and Chelsea being as strong as ever (I’m convinced Chelsea will click back into something resembling true form soon enough), then it isn’t inconceivable that we’ll drop out this year.
HCaG: No. We do not expect to be in the top 4 year in year out. We have the squad to achieve it, but not the depth. Once we get the depth, then, yes, our expectations would be a lot higher. You have to understand that seeing Chelsea not getting Champions League football is like Man Utd fans seeing Liverpool or Man City get zilch too 🙂
SEA: The last time we spoke Stephen Caulker and Danny Rose were two young players recommended to keep an eye on. How have they progressed? Which other young players have impressed recently? At the start of the season I watched a friendly between the two academy teams and was impressed with Harry Kane and Oyenuga. What is the latest on the pair?
CyS: Well Caulker has seemingly progressed very well. He won the Football League Young Player of the Month for November 2010 for his performances, and Bristol City fans really think highly of him, with some even going as far to think that they have a future England international currently on loan at the club. Danny Rose is at the stage of his career where he should probably be playing more first team football, and it doesn’t look like he’s progressed well enough to get that at Spurs just yet, so there’s a chance he may look for a move away soon. I’ll always remember the lad fondly obviously though. He came in for one game against our arch rivals and his wonder goal against them helped us beat them. Can’t really have asked for much more than that. As for Kane and Oyenuga, well Kane went off on loan to Leyton Orient last week and there are high hopes for his future, so hopefully he’ll gain some valuable experience and playing time with the O’s. Haven’t really heard much about Oyenuga recently though, but he’s also a highly-rated player for the future.
HCaG: Andros Townsend’s performance against Charlton was amazing. He is a left footed winger.
SEA: You must be excited by the Champions League tie against AC Milan? How will Spurs fare? You must be fancying your chances after the two performances against Inter Milan.
CyS: Oh I am most definitely excited about the game vs Milan. I truly believe that we can have what it takes to beat them. Our main advantage is that our strengths are going to come up directly against their weaknesses, with Bale and Lennon bombing down the flanks against Abate and Zambrotta or Antonini. There is no doubt in my mind that we will get the better of them out wide, so it’s all about the quality of our delivery and who’s there to get on the end of our crosses into the area. I think we have enough in our midfield to win the midfield battle too, though it won’t be easy for Modric and Huddlestone against Pirlo, Gattuso and Ambrosini. Their attack is very potent though, and we must remain wary of that, as the likes of Robinho, Cassano, Ibrahimovic, Pato and Boateng are good enough to pierce any defence on the planet in my opinion. However, I’m confident that over the two legs, we will prove that we are better than them and we will progress into the Champions League Quarter Finals.
HCaG: AC Milan are a team I grew up watching when Serie A was fashionable on mainstream tv 🙂 So I am extremely excited. I reckon we could win it both home and away – if Ajax could do it, why not Spurs 🙂