What to look for when Tottenham travels to Manchester United

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MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United scores their side's second goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on March 12, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 12: Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United scores their side’s second goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on March 12, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur at Manchester United should be a good football game of contrasting styles; here is what to look for: Spurs are to win the game. 

If Tottenham Hotspur is to make a run at the top places in the Premier League, Spurs need to get points in crucial road games against top-half teams. Wednesday’s game at Old Trafford is precisely that kind of game for Spurs. Here is what to look for if Tottenham takes one more point in a massive road game in Premier League play.

What to look for when Spurs are defending

We know that Antonio Conte teams start with sound defense, and if Tottenham can keep Manchester United from scoring, Spurs can earn at least one point. However, a defensive approach against a team that likes to maintain possession, like United, can force a team to sit too deep defensively; this cannot happen for Spurs against Manchester.

Key 1: Tottenham cannot sit too deep

Against Everton, Spurs were aggressive with pressure from the forwards and stiff defense from the backs, working to deny any hold-up play. While a similar approach would be nice against United, Manchester does not use their forwards to play hold-up football. Instead, Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo are runners who are looking to move.

The natural tendency defensively would be to sit deeper and give United less space behind our defense. Of course, moving the defense back can be a slippery slope that leads to a bus parked at the penalty box, which is a recipe for disaster.

Tottenham cannot play quite as aggressively as they did against Everton, but they cannot just sit back and defend deep; it is about applying pressure at the right time and in the right places.

Key 2: Apply appropriate pressure within the shooting range

One of the biggest struggles for Manchester United this season has been scoring goals, and Tottenham will hope that continues on Wednesday evening. Of course, the lack of goals is more a by-product of a team in transition than anything with United’s ability to score. Manchester has several players capable of scoring from anywhere within 30 yards of the goal.

The United players are not afraid to shoot from a distance and can be pretty adept at doing so. Spurs fans know all about the shooting acumen of Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes, and of course, Ronaldo. Now, United also has Antony, who likes to cut in on his left foot from the right, much like Dejan Kulusevski.

Tottenham cannot hesitate when any of these players get within shooting range with the ball, or it could be trouble.

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