Tottenham v Manchester United, Premier League, September 12, 2009
Spurs fans are in dreamland right now, they may not be top of the league (by one goal) but four wins in four so far in the Premier League have raised expectations even higher than usual at White Hart Lane. (Spurs are 6/4 second favourites to win the without Big Four league.)
A quick glance at recent history between these two teams should however puncture the belief among the home fans. Tottenham havenâ€™t beaten United since May 2001 during a span of 19 matches. Last season, United beat Spurs on penalties in the Carling Cup final and also knocked them out the FA Cup. But, games at White Hart Lane between these two sides are usually closely fought and full of drama.
Niko Kranjcar (11/2 to score) will likely make his debut for Tottenham after his move from Portsmouth injected some life into the final day of the summer 2009 transfer window. He will replace countryman Luka Modric who will be a big loss to Spurs after breaking a bone in his leg in the 2-1 win over Birmingham.
Spurs will also probably have Heurelho Gomes back between the sticks â€“ the much maligned Brazilian was sensational in this fixture last season with a string of saves that ensured a 0-0 draw. If Spurs are to have any chance of a positive result, they will need Ledley king marshalling the defence, especially as Sebastien Bassong is also a doubt for this match due to an injury picked up on his Cameroon debut.
Harry Redknapp wonâ€™t have an easy choice for who will support the in-form Jermain Defoe (6/1 to score first). Robbie Keane (9/4 to score) has proved that the two can play together in the early stages of the campaign, but Peter Crouch (9/4 to score) was excellent when he came on against Birmingham and his height could be a crucial component against United and Ben Foster who has looked a little dodgy on crosses.
Without looking anywhere like the Manchester United side we have become used to over the last three seasons, Sir Alex Fergusonâ€™s side have nine points from three games. The defeat at Burnley was the low point of the opening weeks of the campaign but there have been some crucial wins, at Wigan and home to Arsenal, and the return of Rio Ferdinand for this one could bring back the solidity that appears to have been missing. (United are 6/4 to keep a clean sheet.)
It has almost always proved foolish to write off Sir Alex Fergusonâ€™s side during his time at Old Trafford but one canâ€™t help thinking that United now only have two world class attacking match winners after the departures of Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo. Wayne Rooney (11/2 to score first) has stepped up to the plate this season and will punish any mistakes from the Spurs defence.
Much will depend on Dimitar Berbatov (15/8 to score) on his return to the club where he made his name in England. The moody Bulgarian may be inspired to produce his best form at White Hart Lane and Michael Owen (15/8 to score) will be chomping at the bit if he gets his chance to prove he still has the qualities to play at a World Cup.
A feature of these games over the past few seasons has been the battle between Patrice Evra and the in-form Aaron Lennon (11/2 to score). The England winger was sensational against Croatia and has had the beating of the French full-back in recent seasons and if he continues his early season form United could be in trouble. Harry Redknapp and the Spurs faithful will be eyeing 15 points from five games before a tricky match at Chelsea, United will be eager to continue their superiority in this fixture and lay down a marker for the season ahead.
101gg predicts: Tottenham 1 â€“ Manchester United 1 (5/1)
Full match odds here.