Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur face off at Old Trafford this weekend in what is a top 4 clash. Although the fourth spot has virtually become Arsenal’s to lose as they hold a one-point lead with three games in hand, there could still be a twist in the race as Mikel Arteta’s men have tough fixtures coming up with the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool waiting to host them. If Arsenal do not pick up positive results in those upcoming fixtures the games in hand may not be as damaging as many presumed. An opportunity to capitalise may arise for either one of United or Spurs, leaving a better understanding of who the likelier team to capitalise will be after this game.

Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur Face Off in Top 4 Clash

Both Sides in Poor Form

It is not an easy game to call as both teams have been on a poor run of form. While Spurs dealt with Everton on 7th March, they have also lost 4 of their last 6 games. That is surreal for a team managed by Antonio Conte. Ralf Rangnick may argue last Sunday’s derby defeat was only his second defeat as interim coach, but there have been several poor performances that have led to damaging draws. To be fair to Rangnick, he does set up his side in a manner where they have the foundation to play attacking football and impose themselves on the opposition but a lack of application from the players has let him down. Maybe the players do not have the desired qualities to play the way he wants them to. The continued selection of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan Bissaka in the last few games have been raised questions. Neither really have the ability to play the modern, expansive football Rangnick desires.

Conflicting Statements from Conte Not Healthy

At Spurs there was massive excitement when Antonio Conte was appointed. A serial winner is something what Tottenham fans were craving for. Conte came on the back of winning the league in Italy with Inter Milan and this felt different to when they appointed a similar personality in Jose Mourinho towards the end of 2019. The Mourinho which Spurs employed was not a peak Mourinho. While there was also an obvious sense of excitement, Mourinho was a manager who was struggling to adapt his tactics in the modern game and the manner of his exits at Chelsea and more notably, Manchester United hurt his reputation to a certain extent. His eventual exit from Tottenham was also unpleasant. Conte’s CV suggests he goes to clubs and stays for 2-3 years, brings success and then leaves. This was music to Spurs’ fan’s ears but it has become apparent that Daniel Levy and the hierarchy of Spurs have different ideas and envisage a long-term approach to success. This became evident in the January transfer window as Spurs signed younger players with potential sell-on values. It is no secret Conte likes to have senior players in his teams. At Inter Milan he signed Ashley Young which surprised many but it turned out to be a success. In recent press conferences, it was clear Conte’s demands were not met in the transfer window as he also stated the club have a long-term plan and he must respect that. Things went from bad to worse when he proclaimed losing was not “him.” This statement came after his side lost to Burnley. Before that, when Spurs took all three points at the Etihad he professed this group of players was one of the “best” he has worked with. What is apparent from these conflicting and contradictory statements is that he is clearly frustrated.

Sancho and Kane in Hot Form

While the two sides collectively have not been in good form, there has been a couple of anomalies in Jadon Sancho and Harry Kane. At the Etihad Kane produced a world-class performance, befitting of a player worth £150 million. He will be a threat and with the shaky form of Maguire and it will be intriguing to see how Kane performs. Jadon Sancho looks like he has acclimatised to the pace and physicality of English football and is playing well. He is playing with confidence and took his goal brilliantly at Etihad in the Manchester derby.

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