Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United
Sunday January 20; Premier League; White Hart Lane; KO 16:00
Sir Alex Ferguson will take his Manchester United side to White Hart Lane to try and avoid losing both league games to Spurs for the first time since 1989.
The Old Trafford boss will have to do it without winger Ashley Young and defender Jonny Evans; the former has yet to recover from a knee injury, while the latter is still suffering from a hamstring problem.
However, Wayne Rooney should be back after his midweek start against West Ham United in their FA Cup third round replay victory and could partner Robin van Persie in attack, while winger Nani is also available again.
Andre Villas-Boas is expected to start with the returning Scott Parker in midfield, especially as it has been confirmed that Brazil midfielder Sandro will miss the rest of the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate knee ligament in the scoreless draw with QPR last weekend.
Jermain Defoe will most likely play as the lone front man now that Emmanuel Adebayor has departed to join up with the Togo squad at the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
AVB: Rooney still the man for United
Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas insists Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney is still the key to the Old Trafford side’s success.
Summer arrival Robin van Persie has been taking all the limelight after scoring 21 goals since his £24million transfer from Arsenal, but Villas-Boas was adamant Rooney is the key to United’s best form.
Rooney made his comeback from a two-week injury absence in midweek against West Ham in the FA Cup and looked in form, despite missing a second half penalty, scoring the winning goal.
It was similar situation to when the two sides met at Old Trafford earlier in the season when Spurs came away winners for the first time in the Premier League.
The 27-year-old was a second half substitute in that 3-2 loss and Spurs’ Portuguese boss acknowledged the difference he made.
“We’re always very unlucky, as he seems to return just in time for our games.” Villas-Boas told reporters.
"We recognise that we had a fantastic first half in that game but he came on in the second, made a difference and created lots of problems for us.
“He has had the midweek game against West Ham to come back to form and so we’ll just have to wait and see if he is selected or not.
“But I think he’s a player who makes Manchester United tick because of his movements and the fact that he always sacrifices himself for the team.
“Also, because of his team spirit, desire to win and his focus. He has overcome some difficult moments in his career but he’s a top quality footballer.”
It is a crucial game for both teams on Sunday evening, as both have a lot to lose if they do not take all three points.
Manchester United have had their lead at the top of the Premier League cut to four points following Manchester City’s comfortable win over Fulham on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Spurs will be hoping rivals Arsenal can do them a favour and take points off of Chelsea in the earlier match on Sunday, as the White Hart Lane club only trail the Blues in third by two points.
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