Whenever we play any of the Sky four away from home, it is frankly embarrassing to recall when we last tasted victory. This shame is most acutely felt when we play Manchester United, who we have not beaten at Old Trafford since 1989.
Nine-teen-eighty-nine. It is ridiculous to think that the last time we beat Manchester United, my celebrations would have been cut short by the fact that I would have had a paper round to do in the morning.
Yes, they’ve had mostly very good teams at Manchester United since 1989, but this still doesn’t explain our record. We might not have had many teams that you would describe as ‘very good’, but we have had many brilliant individual match winners, who we could have expected to produce the goods.
There’s been some close calls down the years, such as Pedro Mendes’ winner that never was and the 2-0 lead we held last season, that ended in a drubbing following some more dodgy refereeing. Can we go one better this time and actually see out a victory?
It will be very tough. United have to win if they’re to stay in with a shout of winning the league, while a draw would represent a pretty good result for us following our wins over Arsenal and Chelsea. Whilst a point would be pleasing, I hope that our attitude is positive and we do what few teams do at Old Trafford and actually go for a win. A victory would put us five points clear of City, before they faced Arsenal. Let’s dare to dream.
Because why shouldn’t this current Spurs side be able to beat this current United team? Rooney is absolutely world class, but based on form this season, I don’t think that you could put many other of their players in this bracket.
We welcome back Wilson Palacios from suspension, while Aaron Lennon should be on the bench and Ledley King may also be available. Those are three huge players to have back in the fold for a team that have just beaten two of the top three. Man for man, there just isn’t the gulf these days that there has been in the past.
That’s not to say that I’m hugely confident that we’ll win (I’m not), but we should factor it as a possibility. Certainly until the team start believing that they can go to grounds like Old Trafford and get a result, then it aint going to happen.
I expect goals from both teams, but chances should be rarer than they were against Arsenal and Chelsea, so we have to make sure that we don’t squander so many. I’m pretty sure Defoe will start, but it will be interesting to see if Harry retains Pavlyuchenko, or goes with Gudjohnsen who can link with midfield.
Midfield is a difficult one. Do we break up the Modric-Huddlestone partnership that has served us so well during Palacios’ suspension? Away at Old Trafford, I reckon so. Bale may be pushed back to left back, with Modric taking the left of midfield.
Talking of Bale, the one name that I most want to see on the United team sheet tomorrow is that of Gary Neville. If he’s there, then maybe Bale should be retained in midfield, though surely Fergie will plump for a somewhat pacier option at right back.
With the results we’ve already got in the bag, it really doesn’t matter that much if we lose, so now is the time to go for a knockout victory. If Spurs need inspiration, we should look to the fictional Tottenham supporter and cheeky cockney, Mike Baldwin.
Baldwin arrived in Wetherfield, Manchester in 1976 and was soon lording it over his dull northern counterparts. He was smarter, sharper and nastier than his rivals. If Mike could go up to Manchester and rule, then so can we. Come on you Spurs!