Spurs vs Man Utd: how to torch the Red Devils

A must-win match sees Louis van Gaal bring his Red Devils to the Lane, but what are the keys to beating his side in Spurs vs Man Utd on Sunday?

Speed, speed, speed should be the buzzword at Tottenham training this week. The Red Devils are renowned for their slow, rope-a-dope style of play and that is the biggest hurdle to overcome. But how do you rush them? Here are the tactical keys to Spurs vs Man Utd.


Everything has to be done at tempo. Speed of movement of both man and ball, in and out of possession, is key to breaking down Man Utd. They want to run the game at their slow pace and the opposition has to take them out of their comfort zone.

A prime example was Man Utd’s recent 2-1 loss at Sunderland. The Black Cats were at them from off. Closing down, chasing loose balls and squeezing their midfield up the pitch to create controlled havoc. It worked to take Man Utd out of their rhythm and they were rewarded with an early lead after just three minutes.

The Red Devils don’t score many and neither do they chase games well, so stealing an early march knocks them off their stride.

Press for success

Teams that have squeezed Man Utd’s own time on the ball have done well against them.

We saw our very own Spurs side do this in the opening match of the season in an unlucky 1-0 loss.


Tottenham ball recoveries, Man Utd 1-0 Spurs.

More recently and Liverpool pressed high to force turnovers and push the Red Devils back in their 2-0 Europa League win at Anfield. Another good example was Southampton in their 1-0 win, as they created turnovers in the Man Utd half from quickly closing down.


Southampton ball recoveries against Man Utd.

Pressing has been a feature of our play this season and our closing down needs to be quick, swift and decisive to stop Man Utd developing a rhythm. The return of Erik Lamela will be key to making this happen, especially against a Red Devils side that has had problems in wide areas.


Man Utd are extremely solid if they are allowed to get set defensively, especially against teams that play through the centre. If opponents want to beat them, they have to go out wide for two reasons.

The first is that Man Utd tries to force teams out of the middle through sheer weight of numbers. This was a snapshot from our last encounter with them, as they try to crowd Harry Kane. Only the striker’s quick thinking to loft the ball over the onrushing group defeats the trap.


Harry Kane finds Eriksen running beyond him.

Man Utd has played like this all season and it can bog opponents down. West Brom snuck a 1-0 win against them recently as they managed to shift the ball wide to Sebastien Pocognoli in acres of space against their narrow defence.


Pocognoli in space crosses for Rondon to score.

His cross in to the middle picked out Salomon Rondon to score the only goal of the game.

The second reason for playing with width is that it attacks Man Utd’s full backs, their weakest point. The Red Devils have struggled with injuries and had to rotate numerous players in and out of the full back positions. They’ve even been using Matteo Darmian, a left back by trade, as a makeshift right back.

A lack of a consistent pairing either side of their centre backs has lead to their undoing in their recent away matches. Sunderland scored twice from the flanks as they earned a free kick from Darmian’s lunging foul and a corner from moving the ball out wide. West Brom edged a tight game from Pocognoli’s cross. Liverpool won a penalty and then added a second from twice attacking the space beyond left back Marcos Rojo.

What could play a factor here are our passes that search out a wide player with an out-to-in run. Last weekend we saw Son Heung-Min do this and fire just past the post.


Dier picks out Son’s out-to-in run.

Kyle Walker has also been a recipient of these chip passes over the top as he darts in off the touchline. Don’t underestimate the value of this tactic against a side that doesn’t cover well from wide.

Man Utd are vulnerable in the full back areas and the opportunities are there for teams that attack them in these zones. This needs to be part of the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Man Utd on Sunday.

Spurs vs Man Utd outlook

Tempo, speed and playing at pace is the overriding factor against this Man Utd side. Do this and we will emerge with the three points. If we get sucked in to a slower game at their pace then we could be in for a long and anxious afternoon.

Spurs vs Man Utd prediction: Spurs 1-0 Man Utd.

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7 Responses to Spurs vs Man Utd: how to torch the Red Devils

  1. ashleycollie 8th April 2016 at 9:00 pm #

    Nicely, put, Mark. But with no midweek distractions, and two a day training sessions, MoPo is gearing the lads up to run our opposition into the ground in our last 6 games… or die trying! I’m looking hopefully for a small tonking. Plus it’s my dad’s team, so it’s our biggest family rivalry of the season, always has been! Bigger than Yids vs Gooners, even! COYMFS!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 9th April 2016 at 3:56 pm #

      Family rivalries always add an extra bit of spice to a game! The double training sessions will stand us in good stead, my only concern is Juan Mata having a good game against, as he always seems to.

  2. ashleycollie 9th April 2016 at 5:04 pm #

    Hahahahaha, Mark, they should be “concerned” about Harry and Alli (didn’t he help MK Dons beat ManUre once) having good games, no? COYS!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 10th April 2016 at 1:08 am #

      Yes he did, gave van Gaal nightmares that evening. Would expect he is already planning how to stop Alli doing it again!

  3. Antonyj7 9th April 2016 at 8:01 pm #

    Two a day training seems fine, however over a long intensive season and towards the end how smart is this?

    • ashleycollie 9th April 2016 at 8:26 pm #

      I don’t know mate, I’m going with our inspirational manager and our outstanding sports science team that has gotten us 19P, I believe, from losing situations this season, clawing back wins and draws because of it. COYS, let’s see us roll over teams and give ourselves a shot at something special!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 10th April 2016 at 1:06 am #

      With only one game a week now I would say it’s fine. Poch has to be the judge of how much fine tuning the squad needs to operate his system.