Test of character for Tottenham Hotspur
Seven days on from their 6-0 humiliation at Manchester City last weekend, Tottenham Hotspur face another daunting assignment on Sunday when improving Manchester United visit White Hart Lane.sports Updated: Dec 01, 2013 01:57 IST
Seven days on from their 6-0 humiliation at Manchester City last weekend, Tottenham Hotspur face another daunting assignment on Sunday when improving Manchester United visit White Hart Lane.
Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas branded the result at the Etihad Stadium “extremely embarrassing” but if his side are to get back on track, they will need to overcome United at home for the first time in 12 years.
United were also left disappointed last Sunday after conceding a stoppage-time equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Cardiff City but they responded in masterful fashion in the Champions League.
Wednesday’s 5-0 success at Bayer Leverkusen took David Moyes’s side into the last 16 and was the club’s biggest victory away from home in Europe since the 1960s heyday of legendary former manager Matt Busby.
It also extended the champions’ unbeaten run to 11 games, but although United’s recent record at White Hart Lane suggests they have little reason to approach Sunday’s game with trepidation, Moyes feels it is too early to write Tottenham off.
The north London club trail Moyes’s side by only a point in the Premier League standings -- with United sixth and Tottenham ninth -- and the former Everton manager says that they remain dangerous opponents.
“Tottenham are not that far away,” said the Scot.
“Sometimes people can get a little bit ahead of themselves. Personally, I don’t see him (Villas-Boas) being under pressure.
“No matter when you play Tottenham Hotspur, it will always be a hard game. The matches against Manchester United have been good. After a result like they had last week, the reaction can vary. We are both coming off the back of European games as well. The main thing for us is to try and win the game.”
The damaging loss to Spurs sparked speculation in the British media that Villas-Boas’s days at the club could be numbered, but the Portuguese saw his side respond in positive fashion with a 2-0 victory at Tromso in the Europa League on Thursday.
Spurs are now guaranteed to finish top of Europa League Group K and Villas-Boas believes the victory will have helped his players to move on from the traumatic loss at City. “I am very happy for the players to have bounced back from the defeat against Man City,” he said.
Villas-Boas is expected to recall first-team players such as Kyle Walker, Paulinho and Sandro, all of whom were rested for the trip to Norway.
However, Emmanuel Adebayor, who made his first appearance of the campaign at City, is doubtful with a groin injury, while Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen will not play due to an ankle problem.
Marouane Fellaini is available for United after serving a European suspension, while Moyes says that Nemanja Vidic (concussion) and Robin van Persie (groin) both “have a chance” of playing.
The United manager must also decide whether or not to keep faith with Ryan Giggs, who turned in a vintage performance against Leverkusen, two days before his 40th birthday.
Giggs was a member of the last United side to lose at Spurs -- a 3-1 defeat in May 2001 -- and with 10 goals, he is the top scorer in meetings between the teams since the advent of the Premier League in 1992.
In last season’s corresponding fixture, Clint Dempsey snatched a stoppage-time equaliser for Spurs in a 1-1 draw, while Villas-Boas also saw his side emerge from Old Trafford with a 3-2 victory.