Manchester United recorded their sixth successive win under caretaker manager, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer after the Red Devils put up a master class display by beating 3rd placed Tottenham Hotspurs by a lone goal to nil.
For the first time in a long while, United entered the game unsurprisingly as the underdogs as a result of their poor start to the season.
The poor start to the season led to Jose Mourinho’s dismissal as boss and Ole Solskjaer was appointed as interim manager.
Although United enjoyed an impressive start under Ole, many questioned his tactical know-how and how his United team will fare against the big guns in the league but Ole got the chance to put his doubters to sleep for the meantime and his side showed real grit and determination against a free-flowing Tottenham team.
Tottenham Hotspur started the game in their 4-4-2 set up with a diamond shape in the midfield which featuredSissoko who had a brilliant game till he was substituted early in the first half after suffering an injury setback. The deadly strike partnership between Son and Kane led Tottenham’s attack.
Ole lined-up his United charges in a 4-2-3-1 formation, a line-up he appears to have adopted for his team.
On paper, Manchester United had a front 3 of Martial playing as a Left-winger, Jesse Lingard playing from the Right-wing, Marcus Rashford operating as the main striker with Paul Pogba pulling the strings as an attacking midfielder but on paper, Ole tweaked this a little because ofTottenham’s gameplay.
In the first half, anytime Tottenham had possession of the ball, their full backs stayed high-up the field leaving lots of spaces on the flanks so, Ole tasked Martial and Rashford to stay high up half the field with Rashford switching places with Lingard and operating from the inside Right wing position.
United’s front 3 are endowed with a lot of pace unlike the back 4 of Tottenham and Ole exploited this advantage explicitly.
The two holding midfielders of United, in Matic and Herrera blocked Tottenham’s passing lanes through the middle restricting Tottenham solely to crosses into the 18 yard box and cross field balls to switch the play.
It was during one of these transitions Lingard intercepted a pass and laid the ball unto Pogba who played on Rashford with a sweet through ball to open the scoring.
Mauricio Pochettino made some changes to Tottenham’s set up and game plan in the second half. They reverted to a flat 4-4-2 with Son swapping places with Dele Alli who partnered Kane upfront.
Unlike the first half where the Saints attacked solely through crosses, they built up with quick one-touch passing combinations and exploiting the spaces behind United’s defensive line.
The second half saw United face some difficulties and failing to have a real grip on the game but, the difference between the two sides however was the Spanish shot stopper, David De Gea.
He pulled off some incredible saves during the onslaught of Tottenham’s attack which preserved United’s slender lead and restored his status as the world’s best keeper after a poor World Cup outing.
Tottenham dominated the game last night but were unable to overcome the defensive resilience of United. The Premier League just entered game week 22 but it seems United are now gearing up and ready to put up a real challenge for the top 4.
By: Mishael Quaynor|Univers Sports|universnewsroom.com