Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspurs @ Old Trafford – January 1, 2014

Sometimes a coaching change does do a world of different for a team.  Especially if the coach comes in and changes a system of playing that wasn’t working for one that better suits the type of players he has.  Four games ago Tim Sherwood was named the new man in charge at Tottenham and his team has responded winning 3 out of 4 games with him at the helm.

The busy holiday season in Barclay’s Premier League continues.  It has been an entertaining season so far and fans look for it to continue.  This was a great game to start off 2014 with two strong clubs facing off.  All the other big boys (Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool) won on this day so it was up to Manchester United and Tottenham to keep pace.  Today’s two sides are 11 points behind table leader Arsenal.

Manchester United and Tottenham both came into the fixture with 34 points.  Manchester United was in 6th ahead of the Spurs.  It has been raining in Manchester, which is typical of this area at this time of year, so the field at Old Trafford is soggy.  Manchester United fans are glad to see Wayne Rooney (groin) and Michael Carrick back in the starting 11 after being off with injuries.  Rooney is starting up front with Danny Welbeck, who is starting in place of the injured Robin Van Persie.  Welbeck has 4 goals in last 4 games, so he is taking advantage of the extra playing time.

Fans at Old Trafford were looking for an improved home form from Manchester United.  They only have managed 14 points in 9 home games.  So far this season they have lost 3 at home including to Everton and Newcastle.  No team that has lost 3 home games has ever won the League title, so it doesn’t look good for the boys in red.

Spurs come into the game on a hot streak having lost only 1 game in their last 7.  Manchester United is no slouch either as they had won 4 in a row.  The home side United began the game playing very lively.  They were getting plenty of offense down the right side courtesy of Luis Valencia and Chris Smalling.  The back line of Tottenham was playing high up and had to be careful.  Tottenham captain Michael Dawson is their anchor and he has played every minute of Premier League action for the Spurs.  They needed his direction on this day and he played a whale of a game.

After already creating a fantastic scoring chance for winger Aaron Lennon which found him one on one with United keeper David de Gea and he really should have done better with, in the 34th minute Tottenham opened the scoring.  Scored by rejuvenated striker Emmanuel Adebayor, it was a beautifully crafter goal.  Midfielder Christian Eriksen, signed from Ajax, deftly floated a ball into the Manchester 18 yard box from the right side after making eye contact with Adebayor.  Togo national Adebayor timed his jump perfectly and got his head on it.  He nestled it inside the far post beyond the reach of de Gea.  Adebayor is really responding to the change in coach (mostly because Tim Sherwood is actually playing him) and has scored in his last 3 Premier appearances.

Spurs weren’t into it for the first 15 minutes, but now they have a swagger about them.  David Moyes’ side had some work to do in the 2nd half if they wanted the equalizer.  It was important that Spurs continued to play the way they did in the 1st half and not pull back.  They were working hard to deny Manchester United any space in the opening minutes of the 2nd half.  Manchester United has not been helping themselves as they were lacking that final quality cross so far.

In the 61st minute Moyes makes a double switch taking out Carrick and Smalling and inserting Xavier Hernandez and Shinji Kagawa.  He was hoping for some offense out of the two.  Rooney, now playing the role of play maker, dropped further back with Hernandez up front alongside Welbeck.

Instead of sparking United it was Spurs who scored the next goal.  In the 66th minute they broke out on a quick 3-on-3 break.  Lennon took the ball into the 18 yard box and then played it across the face of goal.  Eriksen got his head on it ahead of Valencia.  Managed to get the ball just past de Gea and over the line.  2-0 Tottenham!

Manchester United seemed sunk, but did manage a quick response.  In the 67th minute Welbeck scored.  He got the ball inside the Spurs’ 18 yard box and showed some nice composure.  Calm and clinical finish for his 7th goal of the season.  Only 1:22 between the two goals and Manchester had a spark of hope.

Since the Welbeck goal Manchester United increased their energy.  Gaps were beginning to show defensively by Spurs.  In the last 5 minutes of the game the home side had 78% of the possession.  Hernandez was buzzing around and causing problems for the defenders.  They do create several chances, but just cannot finish.

Tottenham remains undefeated under new coach Sherwood and move ahead of Manchester United into 6th place.  Under Tim Sherwood there is a great spirit with Spurs.  It was the second straight victory at Old Trafford for the Spurs and the 4th home Premier defeat for Manchester United.  Manchester United had not lost on New Year’s Day for 22 years.  Not a good tradition to start.

The transfer window is now open for January and Manchester United should seriously think about spending some money to get players.  If they have plans to make it to Champion’s League then they are going to have to get a few more players.  Increase their depth.

Game Stats:

-Referee:  Howard Webb

-Goals:  1st Half:

34th minute:  Tottenham – Emmanuel Adebayor

2nd Half:

66th minute:  Tottenham – Christian Eriksen

67th minute:  Manchester United – Danny Welbeck

-Shots on Goal:  Manchester United – 6

Tottenham – 4

-Corners:  Manchester United – 13

Tottenham – 2

-Attendance:  75,265

-Man of the Match:  Emmanuel Adebayor – Tottenham Spurs

-Final Score:  Manchester United – 1

Tottenham – 2