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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
January 20, 2013
• White Hart Lane, London
Referee: C. Foy
• Attendance: 35956
C. Dempsey 90'+
R. van Persie 25'
So, Manchester City can take heart from today's result, but United looked solid for long stretches and will be hard to catch if the likes of Carrick, Vidic and Van Persie carry on this fine form. I've been Tom J Doyle, and stick with Goal.com for all the latest match reaction, as well as the report and player ratings. Goodbye for now, and enjoy the snow!
David De Gea was in inspired form for the visitors but will perhaps feel he could have done better with the punch leading to Dempsey's late, late leveller, and while the Red Devils squandered two points, Ferguson may secretly have settled for a point at the start of play.
It looked as though Manchester United had seen off the challenge of a spirited Spurs side, but Andre Villas-Boas' men showed true desire and fully deserved a point after a host of chances. United's lead at the top of the table is now five points, and that could also be an important point for Spurs in qualifying for the Champions League.
90' + 4'
Valencia is through on the right, but he's adjudged to have fouled Assou-Ekotto...and that's it! Tottenham and Manchester United share the points today.
90' + 3'
90' + 3'
DEMPSEY LEVELS IT!!! They've kept going, and they deserve that equaliser. Assou-Ekotto crosses from the right, De Gea can only get a slight punch on the ball, and Lennon pulls the ball back at the back post for the American to net from eight yards. What a finish!
90' + 2'
Lloris pumps a ball into the box but Vidic is on hand again to head the ball away - how many times has the big Serbian been in the way today?!
90' + 1'
Good reactions from Lloris here who rushes out to meet Rooney's through-ball before Welbeck can scamper onto it.
There will be three minutes of injury time - can Spurs find an equaliser? It'll have to come soon...
We haven't got long to go here, and United are edging closer towards a huge three points. This will send them seven points clear of Manchester City again, and that could make all the difference in May.
Wow - Bale is so close to an equaliser here as he smacks a right-footed shot at goal from 25 yards. Ferdinand gets his head to the ball but it ends up only going a few inches wide with De Gea completely beaten.
Spurs are moving the ball about fluently in United's half now, but are just lacking that extra spark to break through. Its times like these when you feel the hosts' squad just lacks that little bit of quality in order to become true title challengers.
Jones has put in a great shift for United; he's been everywhere and makes a block on Dempsey on the edge of the area. A fine performance from the young England player.
Dembele wants a free kick after Jones and Carrick harry him and he shanks a horrible effort way wide from 35 yards, but nothing is given by Foy. Spurs are really pressing now though.
Defoe twists and turns to find space 20 yards out, but can only hit a low effort straight at De Gea, who collects it gratefully.
Yellow CardWayne Rooney
Rooney's been on for less than 20 minutes but he also earns a booking, chopping down Lennon with a ridiculous leg block.
What a chance for Defoe! He has to score after Lennon finds him free on the right in the area, but the striker takes a touch which allows Rio Ferdinand to get in a vital block. Lovely work from Lennon to turn away from Evra, but Spurs have simply not been clinical enough.
Rafael is the latest player to earn a caution, body-checking Bale before the winger can drive into a dangerous area on the left. Cynical, and a good call by referee Foy.
Chance for Van Persie! - but it's offside. Jones slots the striker through and Lloris gets down well to save his low side-footed volley, but he was two yards offside. Cleverley has put in a good display today, but is replaced by Valencia.
Van Persie is ready to pounce eight yards out after Cleverley works the ball to him, but Dawson intervenes excellently to slide the ball off the striker out for a goal kick. Top defending.
Bale works the ball into a shooting position from 35 yards and blasts an effort high over De Gea's goal. That was a frustrated effort from the Wales winger.
We've got less than 20 minutes to go, and while Spurs have impressed today, they've been short on quality in front of goal. How Villas-Boas must wish Emmanuel Adebayor hadn't departed for the Africa Cup of Nations, as he's really short on forward options today.
And now Welbeck is down on the floor after a collision with Assou-Ekotto - that looked painful for the striker, who was winded by a rogue elbow.
Rooney and Van Persie combine delightfully with the Dutch striker back-heeling to the England forward in space, but ROoney plays a careless ball straight to Lloris when trying to find the run of Welbeck. Really poor.
Welbeck has a chance here - Rafael bursts forward and is free on the right, but his cross is just too far for the United forwards and Welbeck can only get his studs to the ball and send it wide of the back post. That's what they can do on the counter.
Close for Dempsey! The American forward picks up the ball after Defoe's effort is blocked, but his shot is well saved by De Gea at the near post. The Spaniard has been excellent so far today.
Sir Alex Ferguson won't be happy - Rooney cleverly knocked the ball away from Caulker and the defender clearly took the striker out with a lazy challenge. That was a nailed-on penalty, and Spurs are lucky to escape there.
Big talking point here - moments after coming on, Rooney goes down in the area under a challenge from Caulker but the referee says no penalty. Let's wait to see that one again...
Bale exposes United down the left for the first time today, as he drifts past Jones and hangs an inviting cross towards the back post, but neither Defoe or Dempsey can get close enough to it. Rooney is on for Kagawa here.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto is getting ready to come on for the hosts. He has got plenty of attacking ability, and Spurs need to get going in this game once again. meanwhile Dempsey drives a low effort tamely at De Gea from 20 yards.
Lennon tries to bamboozle Carrick in the area here but the midfielder does superbly once more to challenge the winger and win a goal kick. He's been a calming presence for United today.
Walker tries to put a good ball into the box from the left but Evra hacks away the poor ball. They won't get back into the game like that.
Chris Foy is feeling the hull heat of the home supporters' ire on a bitterly cold day as he gives Van Persie a free kick in the centre of the pitch here. One can only feel for cycling sensation Chris Hoy as he awaits a barrage of abuse on Twitter in the coming minutes.
Parker goes to ground just outside the United box under pressure from Rafael - the midfielder wants a free kick, United want him to be booked for a dive, and Chris Foy gives the visitors a free kick for handball by Parker to solve the issue.
Kagawa finds some space on the edge of the Spurs area now, but drags his shot wide of Lloris' right-hand post with Van Persie calling for the ball at the back post. That's a waste, but the Japan international has made time for himself today.
What a save from De Gea! Dembele wriggles through the United defence and finds Dempsey, who rides a challenge from Rafael and is through. He can only poke his effort straight at the keeper though, who diverts the ball wide with his boot. Impressive stop, but it should have been 1-1.
Bale has an audacious effort from 20 yards out here - he's out on the left and tries to bend a shot into the top-left corner of De Gea's net with the outside of his left boot, but misses by a yard or two. Gorgeous attempt, but not close enough.
What a start to the half - Welbeck lines up a shot from 12 yards after being fed by Kagawa but his shot is charged down. Gripping stuff already!
Chance for Defoe! Ferdinand gifts the ball to Lennon on the right, and winger finds Defoe, who lashes a shot narrowly past De Gea's left-hand post from 20 yards. Good start from the hosts.
We're back underway at White Hart Lane. This could be a decisive 45 minutes in the destination of the Premier League title, so let's hope this half lives up to the promise.
Spurs may turn to the inventive nature of Gylfi Sigurdsson to change the game, but they'll surely be wary of United's bench, which boasts Antonio Valencia, Anderson, Ryan Giggs, Rooney and Chicharito - the sight of those players warming up will not be pleasant as Spurs tire.
STAT ATTACK: 19 - Manchester United have scored at least once in 19 of their 21 Premier League games at White Hart Lane. Familiar. [via @OptaJoe]
While Spurs are a goal down, Andre Villas-Boas will take heart from a positive first half from his players. There's plenty of time left to turn this one around, but you feel the hosts will have to get Bale involved more often down the left, as he has taken to cutting inside in search of the ball instead.
That's half-time, and Manchester United are 45 minutes away from a crucial three points today. Despite Tottenham controlling the game for long periods, Robin van Persie headed in his 11th goal in 11 games, and that's what counts come the end of the season.
45' + 1'
Dempsey is looking to get away down the right but Carrick sees the forward out for a corner kick - despite the booking, the England midfielder has had a superb first 45 minutes here.
Welbeck goes close! United are so close to a vital second goal here as Van Persie lifts a lovely ball over the top of Spurs' defence - the striker controls easily past Caulker and Lloris denies him at the near post.
Yellow CardPatrice Evra
Evra finally gets a yellow card here for lunging at Lennon as he attempts to break down the right wing - that's as obvious a booking as you'll see today.
Welbeck charges down the left and has players in support, but his pull-back is disappointing and Spurs can get forward again.
That really was a super stop from De Gea - it initially looked as though he had misjudged his dive and got lucky, but he crucially swung out a leg as the ball changed direction off of Jones. He may struggle on crosses, but there's no doubt about his reaction saves.
Bale goes close! United can't clear a free kick and the ball falls kindly from Bale 20 yards out - he has to take it on his weaker right foot, but his volley bounces through to De Gea, who saves smartly with his legs after a deflection off of Jones.
The latest stat ['35] is especially surprising considering United have no out-and-out wingers on the pitch, and given that usual wingers Nani, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia have all missed chunks of action this season. United's midfielders may not get many goals, but they can certainly make them.
Welbeck is almost through on goal here after another delightful pass from Carrick, but Walker is quick enough to stop the striker before he can take the ball under control.
Half-herarted cries from the Spurs fans as Defoe tumbles under a nudge from Carrick in the penalty, but it would have been a very soft decision from Foy.
STAT ATTACK: 20/13 - Man Utd have scored more goals from crosses (20) and headers (13) than any other PL team this season. Wingplay. [via @OptaJoe]
Almost disaster for Spurs in the wintry conditions as Kyle Walker knocks a wayward back-pass to Lloris that almost eludes the keeper, but the France international reaches it before it can roll past him and into the net.
Now then, Kagawa seems to pull down Mousa Dembele here and United break away and win a corner. The home fans don't like that one bit, but Van Persie wastes the resulting cross.
Looking back at replays of the goal, Carrick did well to open up Spurs at the back twice with a couple of lovely passes - that was the first time the home side has looked stretched, and they paid for it.
Yellow CardMichael Dawson
Dawson absolutely cleans out Evra with a tackle on the halfway line here and rightly earns a booking. He goes into the tackle with good intentions but he's not quick enough and Evra's in some pain here.
Bale has a volley at goal but the ball deflects out for a throw-in. Spurs haven't let that goal dent their confidence, but they'll surely be disappointed to be behind after a bright opening half hour.
Ooh, Defoe almost catches De Gea out at his near post here with a low effort, but the keeper gets down low to punch the bouncing effort out for a corner. Almost an instant response!
GoalRobin van Persie
VAN PERSIE SCORES!!! It's United's first effort on goal and the Premier League's top goalscorer does it again. The visitors work some real space for the first time through Welbeck who finds Cleverley on the right wing, and the England midfielder whips a delightful cross to the back post which the striker powers past Lloris with his head. Clinical.
STAT ATTACK: 1 - Tottenham have scored only one first half goal in their last eight Premier League games. Patience. [via @OptaJoe]
The free kick comes in and takes a deflection off of Carrick at the back post, but United get the corner clear. Spurs are definitely the ones probing for the first goal here.
Yellow CardMichael Carrick
Carrick receives the first booking of the game for going in from behind on Dempsey - he'll have to be careful for the next 70 minutes then.
Sloppy from Ferdinand here as he misplaces a simply five-yard pass to Rafael and Spurs retain possession from the throw-in. United haven't really got going yet, but they've got enough quality to snap into life at any moment.
Lennon tracks back superbly here to win the ball off a marauding Evra - the England winger has been in superb form of late, and is also working hard for the team, which will delight his manager.
Vidic is down injured after an aerial collision with Defoe - it looks as thought he striker led with an arm, but the defender is back on his feet again.
De Gea has cost United a couple of goals recently by pushing the ball back into scoring positions for both Daniel Sturridge [Liverpool] and James Perch [Newcastle], and he'll be relieved he hasn't let his side down again there.
Chance for Lennon! The winger drives in from the right wing and has a shot from 20 yards which De Gea can only parry weakly out, but Defoe slips on the rebound - it wouldn't have counted as Defoe was offside, but that wasn't too convincing from the Spaniard.
Jones dinks a lovely ball over the top of the Spurs defence from 35 yards, and Van Persie times his run well to meet the cross with a header from 12 yards, but there's not enough power on it and it's an easy take for Lloris.
Parker fancies a shot from distance but he can only bend the ball wide from 30 yards as he slips in the process. Not bad, but certainly not good either. It's mostly Spurs at the moment.
It's a decent cross into the box, but Vidic meets the ball well on the six-yard line to clear. United have barely been able to keep a clean sheet this season, but their captain is having a good game already today.
Lennon goes down under a challenge from Evra and wins a free kick out on the right wing - he was too quick for the France left-back there. Now, can Spurs threaten from the set-piece...
There have been no real efforts on goal yet, with both teams looking to gain a foothold in the game and keep it tight at the back. Spurs look confident getting forward though, especially down the right.
The ball eventually falls to Clint Dempsey who whacks a volley at goal from 22 yards, but Vidic is out well to block the effort - the Serbia defender's return is so important in the context of the rest of United's season.
Jermain Deofe does well to nick the ball ahead of Vidic here and wins a free kick 40 yards out...
Lloris is quite casual on the ball here under pressure from Van Persie and plays a poor goal kick out to Naughton on the left, and United win the throw-in. Not great kicking from the France goalkeeper so far today.
Jones wins a free kick in his own half here - he's been stationed on the right of midfield and will indeed look to tuck in when Spurs try to break forward with Bale.
Van Persie is looking for options in a forward position but the Spurs defence are in good marking positions, and Vidic eventually hooks a long ball all the way to Lloris.
We're underway and United have the early possession - it looks as though Kagawa will be drifting inside to link up with Van Persie in the middle.
The teams are out, the crowd are in fine voice, and we're almost ready to go...
We're getting close to kick-off now - it'll be a difficult game for United to take three points from, but it's days like this when championships are potentially won and lost. Whatever happens today, United will still be four points clear of Manchester City, but a victory would be a huge step towards reclaiming the title from their rivals.
Spurs won 3-2 at Old Trafford earlier on in the season, and it should be another fantastic match between two sides who aren't afraid of attacking. Our man at the ground Greg Stobart says the pitch " looks perfectly playable", so unless conditions worsen we should get a full game here today.
There's no place for Wayne Rooney in United's starting XI, with Phil Jones, Shinji Kagawa and Danny Welbeck headed starts with talisman Robin van Persie leading the line. Jones could start in midfield but will also probably be used to double-up on Gareth Bale out on the wing.
So the main news for Andre VIllas-Boas' side is that Scott Parker starts in the absence of the injured Sandro, while Jan Vertonghen has to settle for a place on the bench as Michael Dawson retains his role at centre-back.
Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Jones, Cleverley; Kagawa, Van Persie, Welbeck. Subs: Lindegaard, Smalling, Valencia, Anderson, Rooney, Giggs, Hernandez.
Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Caulker, Dawson, Naughton; Lennon, Parker, Dembele, Bale; Dempsey, Defoe. Subs: Friedel, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto, Huddlestone, Sigurdsson, Livermore, Townsend.
I'm Tom J Doyle [@TomJDoyle] and I'll be guiding you through what's sure to be an unpredictable match in challenging conditions. But enough about the snow for a second, we've got some team news for you...
Good afternoon and welcome to the Goal.com's LIVE commentary of Tottenham - Manchester United at White Hart Lane. With the snow flying down in London we've had two pitch inspections, but referee Chris Foy has decided the game can go ahead. Let's get ready for a battle in a blizzard then!
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