Manchester United v Tottenham, Carling Cup quarter-final, December 1, 2009
The first of two Carling Cup quarter finals in Manchester, with north London opponents on successive nights, is a replay of last yearâ€™s final.
With Spurs in fine form coming into this match, and against a youthful looking United side, they may fancy winning their first match at Old Trafford in any competition since Gary Lineker was on the scoresheet in a 1-0 win (10/1) at the Theatre of Dreams in December 1989.
The hero of last yearâ€™s final was Ben Foster who famously watched a number of Spursâ€™ penalty takers on his iPod before the penalty shoot-out at Wembley. The under-fire custodian is expected to start this match and will be looking to impress after Tomasz Kuszczak started in the 4-1 win at Portsmouth on Saturday. (Manchester United are 29/20 to keep a clean sheet.)
A whole host of players from Unitedâ€™s second string are expected to play in this one with Federico Macheda (8/1 to score first & United win) and Danny Welbeck (7/4 to score, 10/1 for a brace) likely to start up front. Sir Alex Ferguson is also expected to include Brazilian right back Rafael, Nani (10/3 to score), Gabriel Obertan (11/4 to score), Darron Gibson and in his ongoing quest to secure a place at the World Cup, Michael Owen.
Ferguson could field almost exactly the same side that lost to Besiktas at home on in the Champions League last week and they should be fired up to make up for that surprise defeat. Dimitar Berbatov (14/5 to score & United win) has also been included and could face his former club after a spell out with a knee injury. If the Bulgarian, Wayne Rooney or Michael Owen (6/5 to score) do appear, Welbeck will be pushed back into a position on the wing.
Despite being able to rest a whole bunch of first team stars, Ferguson has an embarrassment of riches to choose from. Amongst them is Corry Evans, brother of Jonny and Zoran Tosic (6/1 to score) who has been highly impressive for the Red Devilsâ€™ reserve team in recent weeks, which included claiming a brace against Hull.
Tottenham travel to Old Trafford eager for revenge for last seasonâ€™s defeat at Wembley and also to reach their third successive final in the Carling Cup. Harry Redknappâ€™s side were impressive against Aston Villa on Saturday, fighting back from 1-0 down and totally dominating a top four rival in the second half.
With Spursâ€™ now firmly ensconced in the race to finish in a Champions League position at the end of the season, it is difficult to predict what team Redknapp will put out. So far in this competition, Tottenham have banged in goals largely using squad players who have not featured as much as they would have liked.
After sitting out most of the match at Villa Park, Robbie Keane (9/2 to score & Spurs win) and Jermaine Jenas are expected toÂ play at Old Trafford. There will also likely be starts for Gareth Bale, Alan Hutton, David Bentley (14/1 to score first) and Roman Pavlyuchenko (20/1 to score first & Spurs win) who will all be looking to impress not just Redknapp but other clubs keen to snap them up in January.
Tottenham have been beaten just once in open play in their last 15 cup matches and Peter Crouch (9/4 to score) in particular likes this competition and is currently top goal scorer in the Carling Cup with four goals.
Both sides will put out strong sides even though they may not be the best available. It promises to be an entertaining game in which many of the United youngsters may just have the legs and the desire to seal a place in the semis.
101gg predicts: Manchester United 2 â€“ Tottenham 1 (6/1)
Full match odds here.