A juxtaposing consensus from the Spurs fans and players filled today’s game with uncertainty. The fans generally feeling pessimistic about facing up against Louis Van Gaal’s reinventing of Manchester United, whereas the players seemed to be filled with confidence ahead of the match, considering Van Gaal is far away from what he invasions his Man United side ideally looking like.
Harry Kane personified the team’s readiness as he commented on Tottenham’s new found fearlessness against any opponent following Pochettino’s mental rejuvenation of the squad.
“Mentally we were beaten before we stepped out on the pitch because we were up against a bigger-named team. That isn’t the case anymore… We’re confident at the moment. We’re winning games so why not? These are going to be tough games but we’re ready for it and going for three points… The manager has built confidence and belief.”
Kane was proven right as Tottenham went toe-to-toe against United, fighting to get on the front foot and make positive attacks materialise. Unfortunately for Spurs though, Van Gaal’s side seemed to dominate in the venom of their attacks, taking advantage of a weakened Spurs side due to their Boxing Day win against Leicester. Sloppy performances from Mason, Townsend, and Stambouli meant that United were allowed a lot of attacks, but Tottenham made the first half entertaining with an abundance of counters coming from the in-form Eriksen and Kane. Both sides failed to make their attacks pay, however, and the first half ended at a stalemate after a Mata free-kick hit the post after a deflection.
The second half did not provide as much entertainment as the first, but there was certainly a step-up for Tottenham in terms of individual performances. Andros Townsend came to life in the second half, and made for a very hard to handle combination with Kane, but once again Spurs lacked the lethal finish they’ve demonstrated on other occasions. An offside goal for United may have been the catalyst for what was a heated game, which saw referee Jon Moss brandish a number of yellow cards, and deny Spurs a late penalty as Wayne Rooney pulled Kane down in the box.
At full time, the game ended 0-0 but both teams could’ve edged it on multiple occasions. United probably should’ve taken the three points, but Spurs showed character in order to hold them off. The highlight of this game however was unquestionably the efforts of Hugo Lloris, who, if isn’t the best keeper in the Premier League already, he is well on the way to becoming it. He pulled of a plethora of spectacular saves to deny Man United’s illustrious strike force combined with the genius of Juan Mata. Tottenham have the makings of a powerful squad, both mentally and physically, and could prove to be a force to reckon with in the coming months if the players start getting their acts together. Improvement is needed, it always will be; but with time and effort, multiple individual performances would mean that leading man Harry Kane would be right in his assertion. Tottenham have no opponent to fear.