Venue: White Hart Lane, London.

Time: 16th Jan. 2010, 21.40 IST

Telecast Channel: ESPN

Here’s a quick match preview:
Tottenham Hotspur

Tend to play an attacking game of football. Harry Redknapp would finish his tactics lecture before Usain Bolt could sprint 100m! Last time when the teams squared up, Bale was ineffective due to clever marking from Wes Brown. Redknapp would try to ensure Bale gets space along the wings to knock the ball forward and run down the united defence.Their key man  is going to be Rafael Van der Vaart,who has an uncanny knack of being at the right place at the right time, but everything depends on playmaker Luka  Modric.  Sitting behind VDV, he controls the tempo of spurs’ game.

Manchester United

They got an incentive to stay unbeaten in the league. For this to happen United’s fullbacks have to be at their best to stop marauding Bale and Lennon. If Vidic takes the field then the world’s best centreback  pairing will be hard to break down. In midfield Fletcher is a sure shot. He holds the key in stopping Bale from running down the flanks with his crunching tackles. Rooney is expected to be back after recovering from an ankle injury.

Key Duels
Bale vs Rafael

This is an interesting duel. Last time around United’s fullback was efficient enough to stop Bale. Rafael is getting better and better with his defensive skills every game. But his real test comes now. Bale loves to exploit the pace of fullbacks on the counter  but Rafael is quick enough not to be caught out of position. One way of stopping Bale is by attacking him. Rafael loves to go forward and if he does Bale will be pegged back. Bale will have to defend then since Nani will be a constant threat on the right hand side. If Bale has to get better of  Rafael then he will have to cut inside. Last time he was unsuccessful in going past the United’s fullbacks on the outside. If  he cuts inside he will have to get past United midfield terrier Fletcher. Lately  he has been out of form but against Stoke city he looked much better. That is why he will present in United’s Midfield come Sunday.

Nani vs Assou-Ekotto

Nani has begun the new year with a stunning strike against Stoke city.He has 48 assists or goals in 49 games this season and Assou-Ekkouto will have to up a gear or two in order to stop this pacy winger. If he is able to stop the crosses then the battle is half won. Remember he has the most assists in the league this season. Nani will use his footwork to draw fouls from Assou-Ekkoto. But Ekkoto must not lose concentration.

Van der Vaart vs Fletcher

This is a battle of skill vs grit. VDV, arguably the signing of the summer against ever energetic Fletcher. VDV may drift in and out of the game but Fletcher will be breathing down the neck of VDV for the entire length of the game. For VDV its all about getting away from his marker and to do so he will have to play intelligently with his fellow striker. For Fletcher its important to stop VDV from dropping into spaces which VDV does with ease. Its going to be another busy day for the Scot.


Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images Europe

Predicted Line-ups
Tottenham Hotspur

4-4-1-1: Gomes, Hutton, Dawson, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Palacios, Modric, Bale, VDV, Defoe.

One to Watch: Modric

Manchester United

4-4-2: Kuscack, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani,Fletcher,Scholes, Giggs, Berbatov, Rooney.

One to Watch: Nani


Tottenham 1 – 3 Manchester United. (Rooney to score).