The third and fourth most potent offences clash on Wednesday, but don’t expect a run-and-gun affair with bundles of goals.
High-scoring offences clash at Wembley
Manchester United have scored 49 goals while Spurs are two behind, bagging 47 in 24 Premier League matches. Both teams can score in bunches, thanks to a litany of top offensive talent. Alexis Sánchez should make his United Premier League début, while Christian Erisken is back after battling an extended flu bout.
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For a game of this importance, even with the star-studded list of attackers on display, don’t expect the gunslingers to run amok. Manchester United have kept four consecutive clean sheets, contributing to their league-leading 14 shutouts.
Spurs trail the Red Devils in that particular category by four, keeping 10 clean sheets in 24 matches.
Jose Mourinho’s side have conceded 16 goals this season; only Chelsea’s defence is as stingy in the top flight.
Is United’s defence as good as the stats suggest?
The self-proclaimed Special One takes pride in coaching watertight defensive units, especially away from Old Trafford. Mourinho will enter Wembley sticking to his defence-first philosophy like syrup on a maple tree.
He won’t deviate and risk opening up against Spurs’ prolific attack, the Portuguese instead hoping to nick a decisive goal. Adding Sánchez to his lineup will not change one iota Mourinho’s outlook.
Tottenham struggle to find goals in this fixture, with Pochettino’s men being kept off the score sheet in five of the last seven against United.
But is United’s defence all that’s it’s hyped up to be?
United do, however, disproportionately rely on David de Gea. United’s goalkeeper has made 80 saves, the third most in top flight. A staggering workload for a keeper of an élite team, de Gea is the principle reason United are sitting pretty in second place.
Comparatively, Hugo Lloris has been called upon to make 45 saves, a similar total to other keepers on top five teams: Thibaut Courtois (45), Ederson (40), Petr Cech (58), Simon Mignolet, with a slightly lesser workload, (36).
Those figures tell a contrasting tale, leading to the conclusion that United’s defence isn’t as airtight as some stats suggest, presenting an opportunity for Spurs to exploit.
It’s up to Harry Kane and company to make sure de Gea is taken out of the equation when an opportunity arises, as the Spanish number one could, like so many times before, further inflate United’s ostensibly airtight defensive persona.