It’s been 362 days since United last played Tottenham Hotspur and both games were very similar in the way they worked out, with one crucial difference: United didn’t lose this match. On New Year’s Day, United played Spurs off the pitch until getting caught with a sucker punch from Emmanuel Adebayor and eventually losing the match 2-1. This time around, with good chances missed by Wayne Rooney, Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie, United could and should have been 3-0 up by the half time whistle. In the 68th minute, when Juan Mata ballooned a good chance so far over the bar that the ball ended up on Paxton Road, I was beginning to fear a Tottenham smash’n’grab akin to last year.
View from the United section of White Hart Lane (photo courtesy of Toby Cecil)
Well, that’s what should have happened. Tottenham, who with Mauricio Pochettino as manager, are a noticeably fitter side and finished the match the much stronger team. We ended up relieved at the 0-0 draw when, due to wasteful finishing from United, particularly in the first half, Tottenham’s late surge should have been academic.
By booking Benjamin Stambouli, Andros Townsend, Paddy McNair, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Radamel Falcao, referee Jon Moss gave out more cards today than he sent out for Christmas. It was a miracle under the circumstances that van Persie didn’t get booked in the 59th minute for a push on Jan Vertonghen. It was also a relief, as a booking for van Persie would’ve seen him suspended for United’s trip to Stoke City on New Year’s Day.
View from the upper tier of the away section at Tottenham. This photograph nicely shows the dazzling nightmare that David de Gea would have had in the first half due to the low lying sunlight. It’s probably just as well that Tottenham didn’t get their finger out until the second half as defending in that sunlight would have been horrible. (photo courtesy of Steve Wright)
Most Reds I know would’ve taken a draw before this match kicked off. Tottenham are on a good run of form, while United themselves have not lost a match since losing 1-0 at City. With this result today, United have now gone nine games unbeaten. When you bear in mind that run has included away trips to Southampton and Arsenal, as well as a home game against Liverpool (all games that United failed to win last season), things are looking alright in the immediate short term objective – to finish top four this season.
WE ARE ABOVE ARSENAL WHAT A DAY TODAY IS
— Tottenham Hotspur (@Spurs0fficial) December 28, 2014
Who does this remind you of?
The first train from Piccadilly to Euston today was not due to arrive until twenty minutes after kick off. Thanks to BT Sports, United fans were left with a stark choice: get out of bed at six o’clock in the morning to go to the match or face the torture of listening to Michael Owen giving his penny’s worth as the match played. Of the 2,631 tickets that were allocated to Reds today, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones and there was no way on this earth I was getting out of bed at that time of the morning to go down to White Hart Lane on spec. Reds coming back down the M6 had the usual nightmare that the Highways agency like to impose on the day of the sabbath, not that the people that make the decisions at BT Sports or Premier League headquarters would give a shit about that.
Louis van Gaal post match interview, beating away loaded questions from Ray Stubbs with the aplomb of Brian Lara
As for United, Louis van Gaal has been openly disdainful about having two matches in forty three hours. This is something that would have been unthinkable in any other country he has managed in, especially at this time of year. All he has to do now is come back from Stoke in four days time with a decent result and it will be a good return from a pretty intense run of fixtures. Looking around what’s happening with United’s side, there’s plenty to be optimistic about if you can bear in mind the baby steps. There will hopefully be a decent FA Cup run to enjoy in the new year but whatever happens, there’s plenty to look forward to with van Gaal around. Enjoy the ride