Manchester United Narrows Points Gap With City Rivals

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Manchester United

The chilly afternoon at the Old Trafford having an attendance exceeding 75000 hosted one of the most anticipated Premier League fixture- ‘Manchester United’ vs ‘Tottenham Hotspur’. Both sides played with a 3-4-3 tactical formation.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side was playing without their star striker ‘Harry Kane‘, who was out following a hamstring injury in their last fixture against West Ham. ‘Heung Min Son’ played up-front in place of his injured compatriot.

Jose Mourinho’s side too came in with a couple of changes with ‘Juan Mata’ & ‘Antony Martial’ on the bench and ‘Henrikh Mkhitaryan’ & ‘Marcus Rashford’ in the starting lineup. Tottenham were holding an unbeaten record in away games this season and were certainly looking to end the game on a high note following an important Champions League Group stage clash with ‘Real Madrid‘ at ‘The Wembley’.

The first half certainly didn’t see much of the action from either side, and there was hardly any flurry of chances. However, the Spurs kept pushing in the Manchester box through ‘Dele Alli’, ‘Moussa Sissoko’ and ‘Ericson’ via flanks. The Spurs kept sailing around the box with measured control and were relatively looking confident with the possession. The first half seemed more of an engaging one with ‘Pochettino’ happier of the two managers as the scoreline at the break read 0-0.

The early minutes of the second half too saw the same style of play from the team in white, exemplifying Pochettino’s stalemate tactics. Manchester United were keen on pressing from then on. In the 47th minute, a challenge to ‘Antonio Valencia‘ landed a freekick set for teammate ‘Henrich Mkhitaryan’, whose cross went too deep for anyone to capitalise. This was followed by successive chances for the Red Devils, but were comfortably denied by ‘Hugo Lloris’.

The momentum seemed to have shifted towards the home team following a series of runs from the centre, and it was ‘Ashley Young‘, who seemed to have given a standout performance for the hosts in both the departments, defence and the midfield. ‘Mourinho’ made successive substitutions in the 65th minute, with ‘Jesse Lingard’ replacing ‘Mkhitaryan’ and in the 70th minute, with ‘Antony Martial’ coming in for ‘Marcus Rashford’.

Romelu Lukaku‘ came close in the 72nd minute, from the left flank, but the shot was denied, as the angle being too tight and acute to get past ‘Lloris’. The Manchester side was still struggling to find the net. It was only a quarter an hour away from ‘Manchester City’ looking to be in a comfortable seat at the top of the Premier League Table with 4 or 5 points lead depending on the match outcome. The Spurs too had their sitter in the 72nd minute, when Ericson’s delicious ball assisted ‘Dele Alli’ in the box, who couldn’t get it enough to get past ‘David de Gea‘.

Just when the game looked like slipping away from the Man United, the French wonderkid ‘Antony Martial’ scored right in the 81st minute, assisted through Lukaku’s subtle head flick from the flank. The scoreline now read 1-0, and the ‘Old Trafford’ was at its feet. He turned out to be a Super-Sub for the home side. The post time after that was ‘Keep the ball, Keep the points’, and ‘Trafford’ didn’t seem to care much about the style.

At the final whistle, ‘Mourinho’ was pleased to gain crucial three points and the ‘Red Devils’ are up at second position with 23 points, with City leading at 28 and Spurs sitting at third with 20 points. The Red Devils have clearly set a momentum for their next away game at the ‘Stamford Bridge’ against Chelsea, with Pochettino’s away run in this season finally getting broken at the Trafford. The final scoreline read Manchester United (1)- Tottenham Hotspur (0).