Tottenham Projected XI for Spurs Manchester United Return

Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images) /

Here’s a prediction for the Tottenham starting XI against Manchester United

Tottenham Hotspur, like all professional sports, has been on break for over three months due to the Covid-19 epidemic. 101 days since last taking the field, 124 days since last winning, and most importantly, with a mostly healthy squad and available for selection who will Mourinho select in his starting XI and bench to fill out his 20 man roster in Spurs Premier League return versus Manchester United?  Yes, the roster, like the substitutes has been expanded. So, who is in, out, on the bench, and starting? Let’s break it down.

Whose Out for Spurs

While the team is mostly healthy a couple of players are out. From the first team, we know Dele Alli is out for a game following his suspension for a video mocking someone wearing a mask. Talk about something not aging well, hopefully, Dele learned a lesson and will be smarter who he sends what moving forward.

Besides Dele the only other first-team player out for certain is Japhet Tanganga who is out after suffering a back injury. It is quite disappointing given the growing role Tanganga had been playing under Mourinho before the break. NOTE: Juan Foyth may or may not be hurt, I don’t have for sure confirmation, just this one source, but it doesn’t look good for the unfortunately often injured Argentine.

Finally, while technically still part of the U-18 side – at least according to the team’s websiteTroy Parrott could be expected to play a role given the larger bench, but he has not been training following an appendectomy. So, no Dele for a game, and no Tanganga and Parrott for longer, and possibly no Foyth for a while, but everyone else is available currently.

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Known Spurs Starters

Sometimes it is clear who the starting XI is going to be, however, Mourinho like Pochettino before he has yet to come to a single starting XI that can be assumed from game-to-game. However, given some big returns from injury – including associate captain Harry Kane – Mourinho has some known plans.

In un-Jose-like fashion, Mourinho made plain his plans of starting his two talismans back from injury, Kane and Heung Min-Son along with Spurs midfield workhorse Moussa Sissoko.

Of the three, we know Kane will play up front, but will that be solo, as part of a pair with Son or in a three with Son and another attacker? Likewise, is Sissoko one of multiple central midfielders or is he helping wide, allowing Mourinho to lean on his athleticism to overload one side of the pitch? That is where the projection comes in.

This is Tottenham Hotspurs’ most important game in nearly a calendar year and as such, I think Mourinho is going to field the best XI he can and get them into the shape he wants them playing in moving forward.

Spurs in Defense

Spurs Captain Hugo Lloris will of course start in goal and have a set of four defenders in front of him. Serge Aurier, Davison Sanchez, Toby Alderweireld, and Ben Davies will form that set of four. With the return of Sissoko to help on one side and then the other, expect both backs to play as much wing as possible. When this happens, expect the loan defensive midfielder – Eric Dier – who will be sitting right in front of that back four to drop into the defensive line providing a back three at times. The idea here is that there are at least three, often four, and occasionally five defenders back between the five players, but also one, if not two contributing to the attack. Rather than a total revamp from the break, I think Jose pushes forward with the plan Pochettino had but just could not get done.

Tottenham Hotspur Midfield

Let’s face it folks, we have more midfielders on the team than anything. Given the injuries in defense, this becomes even more important. Even without Dele there are seven possible midfielders for Mourinho to deploy. Of the group, we know Dier is that player that is sitting, but who else helps hold that line and connect the team to Kane up front.

I envision, Dier as the glue between four players, who all rotate both in front and behind the defensive pivot. Those four are Sissoko on one wing, with Son on the other, and Ndombele and Winks in the middle pulling the strings.

While technically an attacker, Son is on the wing in this formation from the midfield, as Winks pushes up centrally with Dele out. If Dele were available, I think Dier is the odd man out, with Winks dropping to that single pivot he played so well two years ago. But alas Dele is out, Dier is in, and Son is outside in a 4-1-4-1, instead of a hybrid 4-3-3 if Dele were available.

Spurs Striker

This of course leaves Harry Kane, alone, up-front. The reality is Kane is never alone up front. The wings, in this case Son and Sissoko will run the channels and Ndombele and Winks will be driving into the box from midfield. Kane plays as the target, the stretch, and the decoy all at once. Now can we get the man some service?

Extended Hotspur Sideline

With Covid and five substitutes now allowed, matchday squads have been expanded to 20 players, this means a larger bench of players, where only a few first-teamers will be left out and some youth should get some experience in the matchday squad.

Given the known injury to Tanganga and potential injury to Foyth, Jan Vertonghen will be on the bench as will Ryan Sessegnon, who can play multiple positions. With Dele out despite some potential fitness concerns Giovani Lo Celso makes the bench along with Oliver Skipp, and Gedson Fernandes in midfield. Suddenly, Tottenham’s attack looks strong off the bench too with Bergwijn, Moura, and Lamela all available. Add in Paulo Gazzaniga to back-up Hugo Lloris and you have your nine subs. Injury determined most and then Gazza is just better than Vorm and do we really need three keepers?


Lloris, Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies, Dier, Winks, Ndombele, Son, Sissoko, and Kane 4-1-4-1 formation.


Vertonghen, Sessegnon, Lo Celso, Skipp, Fernandes, Bergwijn, Moura, Lamela, and Gazzaniga

So, there it is, what do you think? How will Jose set-up Spurs for the big return? Share your thoughts below.