Frustrating draw leaves United 10 points behind leaders Chelsea
A close and exciting match between Manchester United and Tottenham ended I a frustrating draw, which hampered United’s pursuit of the top two, leaving them 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.
The stats weren’t in Tottenham’s favour before today’s game, as Spurs had not beaten United in 13 attempts at home since the 2000/2001 season. However Mauricio Pocchetino’s men were unbeaten in their last four matches before today, unbeaten at home since 9th November.
Spurs’s last match was on boxing day, where they beat bottom team Leicester away 1-2, with Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen scoring his many match winning second half goals.
United on the other hand were unbeaten in eight games, and did they beat Newcastle 3-1 at home, with Wayne Rooney scoring two and with one assist giving Robin Van Persie the third goal.
Captain Rooney has been on great form lately, scoring eight games in 14 appearances with four assists. Van Persie as well has been doing well lately, scoring five goals in last six appearances with two assists.
Manager Louis Van Gaal decided to rest his players for today’s game, and have they not been training nor done any real preporations before the game against Spurs.
Not only that, but Van Gaal decided to play with the exactly same lineup and same formation as their Boxing Day victory two days ago, something which United haven’t done since November 2012.
How tired the United players were was easily seen in the match, as they dominated the first half, but not as much in the second.
The first real chance came in the 19th minute, when Falcao was free on goal from a Juan Mata pass, but saw his left footed shot from the centre of the box saved in the centre of goal by Spurs goal keeper Hugo Lloris.
Spurs’s first real chance came three minutes later, when Andros Townsend on the right cut into the left and smashed the ball in the bottom left corner, but United goal keepr David De Gea was on the spot.
United’s biggest chance of the game arrived in the 22nd minute, when Van Persie was felled just outside the box on the right. Mata was there to take the free kick, but his great curled shot flew straight on the post and the rebound was cleared off the line.
The Red Devils came again close in the 39th minute, when Carrick with an amazing pass found an onrunning and unmarked Van Persie, whose first touch got him too close to Lloris in goal who saved the ball. One might think that a younger Van Persie would have tried to finish first time.
Just before half time, United fans thought they had taken the lead, when Ashley Young on the left cut into the right and with a great curled shot, forced Lloris to make a world class save, preventing the ball flying in the top right corner.
At half time, United had had 55% of the possesion and five shots on target, which were the only attemps on goal they would have for the rest of the match. Because in the second half; the tiredness of the players started to show, and did Tottenham get several more chances to take the lead.
In the 66th minute, Townsend was again on the attack when his right footed shot from outside the box was saved in the centre of the goal.
United tried to get back in game, but did they look much more tired than the Spurs players. Then five minutes later, Frederico Fazio saw his left footed shot from the centre of the box saved in the bottom right corner, after having received the ball from a Jan Vertonghen cross.
Tottenham’s biggest chance came in the 77th minute, when Christian Eriksen took a free kick far outside the box. Eriksen’s right footed freekick curled around the wall and went strainght down in the bottom left corner, forcing De Gea to strecth to clear the ball.
The match finished as a draw, and should United fans be happy with the one point, as they struggled to keep up in the second half. The one point puts them 10 points behind Chelsea on first position. They are only two points ahead of Tottenham on sixth, and do they need to get three points in their next match where they face Stoke away on January 1st.
Spurs on the other hand feel they could have gotten the tree points, but must admit that they need to be more efficient in front of goal. They will have a chance to get into the top four if they manage to beat London rivals Chelsea next Thursday.