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Man Utd v Spurs, 01.01.14

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
WEDNESDAY 1ST JANUARY, 2014
(5.30PM)
MANCHESTER UNITED 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)

Man Utd scorer:-
Welbeck, 67

Spurs scorers:-
Adebayor, 34
Eriksen, 66

Attendance:- 75,265

Referee:- Mr. H. Webb
Assistants:- Mr. M. Mullarkey & Mr. D. Cann
Fourth official:- Mr. N. Swarbrick

Teams:-
Man Utd (4-1-3-1-1):- De Gea; Smalling (sub Kagawa, 61), Vidic (Capt.), Evans, Evra; Carrick (sub Hernandez, 61); Valencia, Cleverley (sub Young, 84), Januzaj; Rooney; Welbeck

Subs not used:- Lindegaard; Ferdinand, Buttner; Fletcher

Booked:- Rooney (foul on Dembele), Januzaj

Spurs (4-4-2):- Lloris; Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Chiriches, Rose; Lennon, Capoue (sub Bentaleb, 64), Dembele, Eriksen; Soldado (sub Kane, 75), Adebayor (sub Chadli, 70)

Subs not used:- Friedel; Naughton, Fryers; Lamela

Booked:- Dembele (foul on Cleverley)

The Heroes of Tottenham!

Something special happened at Old Trafford today. Tottenham Hotspur won 2-1, and in doing so, won consecutive away league games at this ground for the first time in 40 years, when Bill Nicholsonís Tottenham won in 1972-73 and 1973-74. Ralph Coates scored the solitary goal of the game in March 1974, and United were relegated at the end of that season. I was one of the lucky Spurs fans present that day, although I endured the game in seats behind the notorious Stretford End crowd of the day. Itís a lot less intimidating at Old Trafford these days, and United have now lost four league games at home this season. The radio airwaves were full of depressed United fans as I drove home.

Whatever the current standard of Unitedís side, they have been resurgent in recent weeks, winning their last 6 games in all competitions, four of which have been in the Premier League. Spursí new head coach, Tim Sherwood has won today, with his best eleven possible, further depleted before the game by the injury to Paulinho, sustained against Charlie Adam and Stoke City. Sherwood stuck to his guns, fielding a 4-4-2, with both first choice full backs returning, and Etienne Capoue replacing Paulinho. With Wayne Rooney playing a withdrawn role behind Wellbeck, my perception was that Capoue was engaged in tracking Rooney, but I may be mistaken in this observation. Certainly it was Dembele given the more attacking role of the two, with both Aaron Lennon and Christian Eriksen impressive on the flanks, although Eriksen often found an inside track.

Tim Sherwood has now won three of his first four games in charge at Premier League level, and has continued the trend of away wins, with this being our fourth consecutive away win. Sherwood has a great win percentage at this stage of his coaching career!

In the early stages, it was all United, and Spurs were under a good deal of pressure, looking the more likely losers. Lennon seemed to take an early knock and took a little time to run it off, and Lloris made a desperate punched clearance in those early stages of the game. Dawson was struggling to deal with Wellbeck and Hugo Lloris made a save with his legs, before Smalling fired the ball back towards goal, and Lloris managed to save again with his legs, conceding a corner. Hugo did not seem 100% aware of this effort though. Rooney hit a free kick over the goal from 25 yards after 8 minutes.

Spurs at last started to gain a foothold in the match, and Eriksen sent a ball from outside his own area down the middle to Adebayor, who passed short to Soldado. Soldado sent Lennon clear with a lovely pass, but De Gea managed to save Aaronís effort. Spurs countered again two minutes later, after a Dawson headed clearance that was sent long by Walker. Lennonís cross found Danny Rose quite a way out from goal, and his effort was well over.

Lloris does seem to have lost a degree of his control and confidence recently, and he should held a Januzaj cross, which led to another United corner. For all their pressure though, United were not testing the goalkeeper enough. Soldado fed a Lloris long clearance to Adebayor on the right of goal, and his shot was not far over. It wasnít long before Spurs took a dramatic lead in front of the 75,000 crowd. After another Walker long ball, Soldado threaded a wonderful ball out to the right flank, where Eriksen was waiting. Eriksen crossed and Adebayor was too big for the United defence, meeting the ball with a perfectly placed header back across De Geaís left hand into the net in the far corner.

Soon after this, Adebayor passed wide to Lennon who crossed, but Soldado could not get the right direction onto his attempt on goal. Rooney got a yellow card for a foul on Dembele.

It took a while for any significant action after the break, and Howard Webb denied United claims for a penalty after 58 minutes when Wellbeck went down as Chiriches challenged. After this Moyes made a double substitution, replacing Carrick and Smalling with Hernandez and Kagawa. Valencia moved to right back, Januzaj switched to the right wing, where he gave Danny Rose plenty to think about, whilst Kagawa worked the left flank. Moyes had inserted pace and United now played with more urgency. Wellbeck was now partnered by Hernandez, with Rooney beside Cleverley in midfield. Tim Sherwood responded by replacing Capoue with Bentaleb.

Spurs took a two-goal lead in the 64th minute, as they broke through the middle. Adebayor passed to Lennon down the right, and Lennonís cross was met by Eriksen who stooped to head low past De Geaís right hand, close to the keeperís body. The celebrations at the away end were wild.

Sadly, Spurs lost their concentration, and allowed United to get a goal back immediately. Januzaj fired in a ball from the right flank, and Wellbeck picked it up in the area, chipping his shot over the advancing Lloris. Adebayor was injured during this move, and was stretchered off, which looks ominous for Saturdayís crucial FA Cup game at The Emirates. He was replaced by Chadli.

Januzaj hit a left footed shot from the right side of the penalty area, which passed outside Llorisís right post.

With 15 minutes still to go, Sherwood took off Soldado, no doubt with an eye to that cup tie, replacing him with Harry Kane. The United crowd were baying for another penalty, but Howard Webb was having none of that either. Some less important decisions did not go Spursí way, but on balance, weíd have to say the referee did us alright in the end. Spurs were now just trying to hold on, but there was still plenty of time to negotiate.

Spurs did forge one or two chances though, and Lennon had a shot saved after Harry Kane had put him in play. Towards the end of normal time, Lloris made saves to his left and right from corner situations, one of which was a Vidic header. Spurs had to manage over five minutes of added time, but they did hold on for a magnificent victory.

Thus we have taken four points off United for the second season running. I havenít stopped smiling yet. The win puts us three points above United into sixth place one point behind Everton and two behind Liverpool. It has been an excellent Christmas for Spurs, with 10 points from four games to give us all hope again for 2014.

Happy New Year Spurs fans!

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