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Tottenham tactics: Spurs vs Man Utd opposition scouting report

After our Europa League triumph at Tromso, it’s back to the Premier League as the Red Devils roll in to town for Spurs vs Man Utd.

Last season we took four points off Fergie’s side, but David Moyes’ new-look Red Devils have something different in store. So what do we expect and what should be the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Man Utd this season?

Man Utd set up and style

David Moyes has lined his Man Utd side up in either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-1-1 formation with some of his tactics from Everton remaining, whilst others have been adapted.

One that hasn’t changed is that Moyes still makes full use of his left back. At Everton he utilised the forward runs and crossing ability of Leighton Baines. The England international combined well with Stephen Pienaar to create arguably the best one-two tandem in the Premier League.

Now with Man Utd, Moyes makes good use of Patrice Evra, combining him with one from Danny Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa, Nani or Adnan Januzaj. Whoever he is partnered with moves inside to spring Evra down the outside in order to provide crosses. Something we’ll look at next.

Moyes’ Everton attacked down the left and whereas the inside movement and overlapping runs remain on this flank, his Man Utd side still focus their attack down the right.

This wing sees Antonio Valencia hugging the touchline in order to stretch the opposition and deliver crosses in to the box. The Ecuadorian is a threat to not only dribble past the full back and deliver, but also to receive passes in-behind or played up the line.

Up top, Danny Welbeck started the season playing in “Marouane Fellaini’s Everton role.” Welbeck was the focus for any long balls forward and crosses in to the box in order to win the knockdowns for Robin van Persie. He was a big part of their opening day mauling of Swansea and could occupy the role again if van Persie is unable to partner Wayne Rooney.

Since those early days though, Wayne Rooney now plays off van Persie and operates in the role completely differently to how Welbeck was playing.

Whilst van Persie operates high up and looks to run the channels, Rooney is busy dropping off to create overloads with both sets of wide players. He can then drive forward and deliver a through ball to the Dutchman or look to release Evra and Valencia to get in to a crossing situation.

When he gets in to wide areas himself, don’t discount Rooney crossing the ball as well. The England international has put in a number of excellent balls in to the box from open play this season. His set piece delivery is also one of the best and has resulted in goals in Man Utd’s last three matches.

Spurs vs Man Utd crossing

Man Utd’s overall goal is to cross the ball, something they lead the Premier League in this season.

Patrice Evra is a key to this and his crossing has increased substantially this term as Moyes uses him a lot more in the Man Utd attack. The Frenchman was putting a ball in to the box every 37 minutes for Fergie last season. This term under Moyes it’s increased to every 20 minutes and his accuracy has improved from 20% to 23% to boot.

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Patrice Evra passes played against Cardiff and Sunderland.

Whilst Evra is bombing away with higher delivered crosses through the air, Antonio Valencia plays lower-driven balls in to the box. The Ecuadorian aims to beat his full back and then fizz balls across the ground to the waiting Rooney and van Persie.

As mentioned above, Wayne Rooney is also a major threat to deliver a ball in to the middle from wide areas. He created a number of chances against Cardiff last week from doing this, as well a deadly set piece delivery from a corner. Leverkusen also felt the full force of his delivery, as Rooney’s free kick forced an own goal, whilst one of his crosses found Antonio Valencia at the back stick.

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Wayne Rooney passes played against Cardiff and Bayer Leverkusen.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Man Utd here need to see our full backs well aware of the dangers posed by Evra and Valencia. Sandro will also have a busy day trying to keep tabs on Wayne Rooney.

How Man Utd create chances

With Man Utd aiming to cross the ball, this is how their main chances arrive.

Against Cardiff, Rooney opened the scoring after Javier Hernandez touched on Antonio Valencia’s cross to him. Their second came from a Rooney corner as Patrice Evra headed home.

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Man Utd chances created against Cardiff.

In their Premier League match prior to that with Arsenal, Robin van Persie headed home a Wayne Rooney corner in a tight game with few chances. Whilst in their previous away match at Fulham, Man Utd also created two of their three goals from shorter crosses.

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Man Utd chacnes created against Fulham.

Man Utd’s second goal in that game arrived from a ball threaded through a gap in the defence to Robin van Persie. The Dutchman’s ability to run the channels is how Man Utd also look to score if they can hit him early in the attack.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Man Utd here need to focus on shutting down the delivery from wide areas. Kyle Walker should be able to keep tabs on Patrice Evra, but Jan Vertonghen may have difficulty keeping up with Antonio Valencia.

Where Man Utd concede chances

Most teams in the Premier League concede chances from one side or another, but Man Utd have a soft centre.

We demonstarted this last season as both Jan Vertonghen and Gareth Bale raced through the middle of their defence to score in Man Utd 2 Spurs 3.

This term, Cardiff highlighted the same way to goal is still open during their opener last Sunday. Frasier Campbell’s pace took him in-behind to convert an excellent through ball. Fulham, despite losing 3-1, also fashioned a number of opportunities through the middle.

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Cardiff and Fulham chances created against Man Utd.

The problems for Man Utd in this area are not just that their centre backs are big and slow, but they are also not protected by a solid central midfield duo. Phil Jones has been doing a credible job of late and it’ll be interesting to see if another big man in Marouane Fellaini partners him. The book on stopping Spurs says to sit deep and congest the centre, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Moyes go large with strength and power in this zone.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Man Utd would see us do well to head straight down the middle. That would involve a driving run from one of our midfield players, or hitting one of Roberto Soldado’s early runs. The worrying point is that neither of these have been prevalent this season.

Spurs vs Man Utd outlook

Off the back of the Man City mauling, Andre Villas-Boas doesn’t really need a fixture against  an improving Man Utd side to try and salvage his current status with the media.

Moyes’ men will try and create with crosses; we need to hit them through the centre. A positive for Spurs is that Man Utd should come out and play, not be sitting back like many visitors have done at the Lane this season. Although their performance at Old Trafford against Arsenal could hint that they may try and play on the counter.

This will be another tough match, especially after the some of the squad have been to Norway and back, but I fancy us to get a point.

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



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2 Responses to Tottenham tactics: Spurs vs Man Utd opposition scouting report

  1. Paulo 1st December 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    Good stuff. Was at the game today (first game of the season) and was thoroughly impressed – excellent performance considering last weeks debarcle! Looking forward to the match analysis of a game in which we dominated but were punished clinically for mistakes.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 2nd December 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      Thanks Paulo, you can check it out here.