Manchester United host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, the clash seeing Jose Mourinho return to his former club in the opposing dugout.
Here’s everything you need to know about the meeting at Old Trafford:
How have they started the season?
After an excellent run of form post-lockdown, the Red Devils haven’t exactly made the start to the new season that many expected, losing their opening Premier League fixture to Crystal Palace, before narrowly securing a last-gasp victory over Brighton last weekend despite a relatively limp performance once again.
The pressure is now certainly on for boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to build upon on last season’s third-placed finish and deliver some silverware, yet with a surprising lack of transfer activity the Norwegian’s job is beginning to look even tougher – the next few days of the transfer window and a resolution to the unending Jadon Sancho saga perhaps crucial to how the Red Devils campaign will pan out.
🗣"The transfer window is still open for a little while, the club has been working and they know my view"
Ole Gunnar Solskjær remains optimistic about Manchester United's transfer dealings pic.twitter.com/n80EwqQEFG
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 2, 2020
On the brighter side, Solskjaer has already guided his side to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup after victories over Luton Town and Brighton, while the club’s only major signing Donny Van de Beek is already looking like an astute purchase, the Dutchman delivering a delightful assist for Juan Mata during Wednesday’s win over the Seagulls.
With Sunday’s clash on the horizon, it will be fascinating to witness Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho go head-to-head, the two men having traded verbal blows over the past week as part of an ongoing ‘feud’, although it does all appear to be more tongue-in-cheek than anything more malicious.
As for team news, the Manchester United boss faces no new injury concerns – Harry Maguire recovering from a minor knock which kept him out of the League Cup tie in midweek – yet will have a decision to make over whether to include Van de Beek in his starting XI after his bright start to life in Manchester.
Tottenham continue their incredibly hectic schedule with a fourth game in seven days as they head to Old Trafford, as Mourinho looks to get one over on his former employers and attempt to kickstart his side’s mediocre beginning to the league campaign.
Their last Premier League fixture saw them denied three points as a hugely controversial penalty decision gifted Newcastle United a stoppage time equaliser, although since then it’s been all smiles for Mourinho and co.
The North London club emerged as victors over Frank Lampard’s Chelsea on Tuesday after a 1-1 draw took the Carabao Cup tie to penalties, with Mason Mount missing the crucial spot-kick to send Spurs through to the last eight. While the game will not live long in the memory, it did produce a bizarre moment in which Eric Dier darted off the pitch for a toilet break midway through the second half, leaving his side momentarily a man down and seeing Mourinho tear down the tunnel after his player.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 29, 2020
Mourinho’s men were in action just 48 hours later in a Europa League playoff meeting with Maccabi Haifa, yet showed little evidence of fatigue, England captain Harry Kane netting a hat-trick as Spurs ran out 7-2 winners to seal their place in the group stages of the competition.
While there will be once again little time for his side to recover for Sunday’s game, Mourinho should have a relatively full squad to choose from, Heung-Min Son the only major doubt having been forced off at half-time against the Magpies, while the returning Gareth Bale is working his way back up to full fitness.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Manchester United, 19 June 2020
The two sides last met in what was their first game back after the COVID-19 enforced three-month-long hiatus from competitive action – after such an extended break from top-flight action, inevitably neither side was quite at their best.
With Bruno Fernandes in tow, United were perhaps favourites, yet the home side burst into an early lead with Steven Bergwijn leaving Harry Maguire for dead before hammering home past David De Gea. The visitors took control in the second half and were duly rewarded, substitute Paul Pogba winning a penalty after a clumsy challenge from Eric Dier which Fernandes then converted.
The Portugal international thought he’d won another penalty right at the death, yet VAR correctly ruled that there had been minimal contact, ensuring both sides would have to settle for a point.
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Bailly, Shaw; Matic, Fernandes, Pogba; Rashford, Martial, Greenwood.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Doherty, Alderweireld, Dier, Davies; Winks, Hojberg, Lo Celso; Moura, Bergwijn, Kane.
Who is the referee?
How can I watch?
UK and Irish readers can watch on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event.
What time is kick off?
Manchester United 17/20