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Played
March 4, 2012 4:10 PM GMT
White Hart Lane — London
Referee:‬ M. Atkinson‎
Attendance:‬ 36034‎
 
Wayne Rooney 45′
 
Ashley Young 60′
 
Ashley Young 69′

Tottenham - Manchester United Preview: Spurs seeking first win over Red Devils in 26 attempts

Defending champions take an impressive record to White Hart Lane on Sunday and have Wayne Rooney back in contention, while the hosts also have key players fit again after injury

By John Stammers


PROBABLE LINEUPS


TOTTENHAM


Friedel
Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto
Kranjcar, Sandro, Modric, Bale
Van Der Vaart
Adebayor
MANCHESTER UNITED

De Gea
Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra
Nani, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs
Rooney, Welbeck

At one stage it looked like Tottenham would be without their star man Gareth Bale after the winger missed Wales' midweek clash with Costa Rica due to a hamstring injury; however, Harry Redknapp has suggested that the former Southampton man will recover in time for Sunday's game.

Spurs are also hoping Rafael van der Vaart (calf), Kyle Walker (ankle) and Ledley King (knee) will all pass late fitness tests before the visit of the champions, but long-term absentees Tom Huddlestone, David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas and William Gallas remain sidelined.

Scott Parker will also be unavailable for the match at White Hart Lane after seeing red in the north London derby last weekend, and central midfield is therefore where the manager's main selection headache lies, with Jake Livermore and Sandro vying for a starting place.

As for Manchester United there is also some good news regarding their main man, Wayne Rooney. The striker has recovered from a throat infection that has kept him out of the squad for the last couple of fixtures.

Sir Alex Ferguson still has a number of injury worries though: Antonio Valencia (hamstring) and Tom Cleverley (foot) are still out and Chris Smalling is a fresh doubt after suffering a clash of heads while representing England against the Netherlands on Wednesday. Ashley Young played the whole 90 minutes in that international friendly and therefore may not start, while Michael Owen returned to training in the week but will not be match fit in time for the Spurs clash.


DID YOU KNOW?
  • Tottenham have failed to beat Sir Alex Ferguson's side since May 2001 - a total of 21 Premier League meetings without a win, and 25 in all competitions.
  • Spurs need one more draw at White Hart Lane to record their 100th in the history of the top-flight.
  • The hosts have failed to score in four out of the last five league and cup meetings with United.
  • Harry Redknapp's side have netted more goals than anyone one else in the opening 15 minutes of league games this season (10), while the Red Devils are one of just two teams yet to concede in the first quarter of an hour.
  • Manchester United have already won 30 points away from home this campaign, which is five more than their total for the whole of last season.
  • Wayne Rooney (pictured right) has scored in six out of his last seven league games against Tottenham, with Ryan Giggs netting more league goals against Spurs than any other team (10).
  • The Red Devils have only managed three clean sheets in their last 12 domestic games.
  • United centre-back Rio Ferdinand will make his 450th league appearance in English football if he plays a part on Sunday.
  • Sir Alex Ferguson's strike partnership at White Hart Lane could be Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck, two men who scored in United's 3-0 win over Spurs in the first game at Old Trafford this season.
  • Harry Redknapp's surprise January signing Louis Saha could face his former club for the first time in a Tottenham shirt. He played 124 games for Manchester United and scored 42 goals after signing for around £12 million from Fulham in 2004.

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Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
24Brad FriedelGoalkeeper
4Younes KaboulDefender
20Ledley KingDefender
2Kyle WalkerDefender
32Benoit Assou-EkottoDefender
7Aaron LennonMidfielder
19Luka ModricMidfielder
14Jake LivermoreMidfielder
30SandroMidfielder
10Emmanuel AdebayorStriker
8Louis SahaStriker
23Carlo CudiciniGoalkeeper
20Michael DawsonDefender
-Ryan NelsenManager/Coach
21Niko KranjcarMidfielder
3Danny RoseMidfielder
17Giovani dos SantosStriker
18Jermain DefoeStriker
1David de GeaGoalkeeper
3Patrice EvraDefender
4Phil JonesDefender
5Rio FerdinandDefender
6Jonny EvansDefender
18Ashley YoungMidfielder
16Michael CarrickMidfielder
18Paul ScholesMidfielder
17NaniMidfielder
10Wayne RooneyStriker
19Danny WelbeckStriker
40Ben AmosGoalkeeper
35Fabio Da SilvaDefender
21Rafael SilvaMidfielder
8AndersonMidfielder
13Ji-Sung ParkMidfielder
11Ryan GiggsMidfielder
14Javier 'Chicharito' HernandezStriker
Players to Watch
Luka Modric
Luka Modric
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 19
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
With Scott Parker missing through suspension Tottenham are in for a tough task in central midfield with Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick both in fine form for their opponents. It's unclear who will partner the Croatian playmaker in the middle of the park, while Harry Redknapp also faces a decision on whether to play two men up front or try and pack out the midfield in the Englishman's absence.

Whatever the manager decides to go for, the 26-year-old midfielder is likely to be playing alongside less experienced heads, such as Livermore or Sandro, and therefore needs to be in leadership mode as well as in fine form to help Spurs break down United's back line.

The former Dinamo Zagreb man, who has scored three goals and assisted four this season, has on numerous occasions been heavily linked with a move to fellow London club Chelsea, while reports have also suggested that Modric is reluctant to sign a new deal until his boss's future is also secured. A big match-winning display at White Hart Lane would surely go a long way in persuading Redknapp to stay.
Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
27 15 8 0
The talismanic forward should shake off his illness in time to start for Manchester United on Sunday and having found the net in six out of his last seven appearances against Spurs, including their first meeting in this season's campaign,  I have no doubt that the 26-year-old is looking forward to it.

The England striker has hit 17 goals in the league so far this season and with 12 of them coming against Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham or Manchester City he is certainly a big-game player. And this is certainly a big game. Roberto Mancini's side face Bolton at home on Saturday and could be five points clear by the time Sunday afternoon comes around, so the Red Devils will want to make sure they do not allow any kind of gap to open up.

On a side-note, although I'm sure the former Everton man will always be in Sir Alex Ferguson's first team plans, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck have not looked out of place as a first-choice Premier League strike force, so Rooney will want to return with a bang just to remind his team-mates who is boss. After all, a bit of friendly competition is good for everyone.
Prediction
Last weekend's action saw very different outcomes for the two sides; United nicked a vital three points in the dying moments against Norwich whereas the hosts were on the end of a humiliating 5-2 defeat to their bitter rivals Arsenal.

United are in good away form this season and they are looking for their 10th away victory, which would be twice as many as they recorded last season. They are also on a run of 16 points from a possible 18. All the history leans in the visitors' favour and Rooney's return will only bolster their chances.

Tottenham can take hope from the good news regarding Bale's fitness, although Parker's absence is likely to make a huge difference. If Redknapp keeps two men upfront they could well be overrun in midfield, while sacrificing an attacker to shore up the middle will risk nullifying any threat to their opponents. Either way I can't see past United for this one, and their 22nd consecutive unbeaten Premier League game against Spurs should be recorded on Sunday, albeit with a close scoreline.
Editor's Prediction
Results
 
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Luis Suárez Luis Suárez
Striker
Liverpool
29 0
Daniel Sturridge Daniel Sturridge
Striker
Liverpool
20 0
Yaya Touré Yaya Touré
Midfielder
Manchester City
18 6
Wayne Rooney Wayne Rooney
Striker
Man Utd.
15 2
Sergio Agüero Sergio Agüero
Striker
Manchester City
15 0