Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal named an unchanged side for the 0-0 stalemate at Spurs, a stat which proved to be the club’s first in 85 games.
The surprisingly familiar XI which took to the field at White Hart Lane was a far cry from the Dutchman’s laments of Christmas exhaustion before and after the game, with both sides having just 48 hours of rest.
Plenty of positives
However, United looked both fluid and positive on the ball, and had it not been for Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris, they would almost certainly have converted their chances into three points.
Both Van Gaal and his predecessor David Moyes had failed to stick with the same starting line-up for a run that dated back over two years, but that tactic has been a factor in the Red Devils falling short.
United's injury list
Admittedly, injuries have played a decisive factor. Last season, veterans such as Ryan Giggs, Nemanja Vidic, and Paul Scholes also made it inevitable that United would have few ever-presents come the end of the season.
Regardless of the reasons, in the psychological battles at the top of the Premier League, Van Gaal has been derided as a manager who does not know his best XI.
With United playing some of their best football of the season in the 3-1 Boxing Day win over Newcastle, it may finally be time to stick to a winning formula, not least to make a statement to Jose Mourinho, Manuel Pellegrini, and Co. as they look to break into what has largely been a two-horse title race.
To use Mourinho’s favoured analogy, the Old Trafford outfit are certainly a little horse this time round. It appears, though, that Van Gaal is beginning to make his mark; halting his policy of endless rotation would be a good way of indicating that he has faith in his players to continue their impressive run of eight wins in ten matches.
Of their enviable squad, LVG has already used 31 players in the Premier League alone. Competition has thrived, but after half a season, the former Netherlands manager will be familiar enough with his resources that we should see plenty more unchanged line-ups.
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