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Starting XI: Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur

The Reds hope to head into the international break on a high note

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus

Everything that you need to know ahead of Sunday’s match:

(1) As expected, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rang the changes in midweek for the Carabao Cup win over Brighton. Only Victor Lindelöf kept his spot in the starting lineup from the weekend, with backups like Daniel James, Diogo Dalot, Odion Ighalo, Fred, and Scott McTominay all given some much-needed minutes. While Tottenham Hotspur will enter Sunday’s match totally knackered — more on that in a minute — Manchester United’s regulars will be well rested.

(2) Solskjaer on his squad’s injury situation:

Harry [Maguire] had a little knock after the league game [at Brighton], I think a hole in his ankle, but he should be okay. I think, apart from that, we’re okay. There are no more injuries from the cup game.

(3) Eric Bailly turned in another impressive performance in Wednesday’s 3-0 win at the Amex Stadium. The 26-year-old will probably always be an injury risk requiring careful management, but he must be getting close to leapfrogging Lindelof into Solskjaer’s first-choice eleven. Manchester United have kept clean sheets in both Carabao Cup matches with Bailly, while conceding five goals in the league so far without him.

(4) Unfortunately for Manchester United, Spurs superstar Harry Kane is off to a blazing start in 2020/21 with six goals and six assists in seven games. Solskjaer on the threat posed by Kane:

I think every coach, when you play against a team with the quality that they have, but also Harry Kane, you prepare really well. Harry’s one of the top strikers in the world and you’re just happy that he’s back fit after the injury he had last year. We’ll do our best to keep him quiet. We have a Harry [Maguire] back there that is looking forward to playing against his international mate.

(5) No club needs the international break more than Tottenham Hotspur. This week alone, Spurs played Newcastle on Sunday, Chelsea on Tuesday in the Carabao Cup, Maccabi Haifa on Thursday to qualify for the Europa League group stage, and now Manchester United on Sunday. In all, that’s 8 games in 22 days for Jose Mourinho’s men. Juggling the Premier League, Carabao Cup, and Europa League qualifiers has been a grueling task for the North London club and United should hold a decided fitness advantage this weekend.

(6) Dating back to last season, Spurs have only lost once in their last thirteen matches in all competitions. That was an opening day defeat to high-flying Everton. Otherwise, they’re in fine form after knocking Chelsea out of the Carabao Cup on penalties and smashing Maccabi Haifa 7-2 to clinch a spot in the Europa League group stage.

(7) At halftime of the Maccabi Haifa rout, though, Giovani Lo Celso was removed with an apparent injury. That would be a huge blow for Spurs, as the Argentine has thrived under Mourinho and emerged as one of the most dangerous midfielders in the Premier League. Lo Celso joins Son Heung-Min (hamstring) as questionable for Sunday’s match.

(8) Mourinho on the chances of Son playing this weekend:

I don’t want to lie to you and say he doesn’t play and Sunday he’s there. At the same time, I don’t want to say he plays and then he doesn’t. So let’s wait and see. In this moment, I honestly don’t know.

(9) While Manchester United have been sluggish in this transfer window, Tottenham Hotspur have been anything but. Spurs kicked off the summer by signing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Southampton) and Matt Doherty (Wolves), before pulling off a sensational coup for both Gareth Bale and Sergio Reguilon from Real Madrid. Bale won’t be available until later this month, but Reguilon dazzled on his debut against Chelsea and should have little trouble nailing down the starting left back spot. He is one to watch.

(10) A worrying trend for Spurs, though, lies in their defense. Despite racking up some great results across the opening weeks of this season, they haven’t managed to keep a clean sheet yet. With attack-minded fullbacks like Reguilon and Doherty, quick counterattacks can be this backline’s undoing. Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, and Paul Pogba should find more than a few chances to get on the scoresheet this weekend.

(11) Mourinho on the hectic start to the new season:

If we remember what we did in this past month, it’s incredible. Three Premier League matches, three knockouts in Europe, the Chelsea game... seven matches in this period of time, with another in two days. That’s really, really hard, so I’m very pleased for the boys.