If you’re having a flutter this weekend you’ll work your way down the fixture list and make a note – either mental or actual – next to those selections that you fancy will give you the best chance of winning.
When your finger this the Manchester United vs Tottenham game, you might feel slightly torn as to where the best value lies.
But there is plenty of evidence that points to the fact that Spurs, at odds of 12/5, could well be the best bet you will place this weekend. And here’s why:
#1 The Kane Effect
We all know just how well Harry Kane is playing at the moment: 13 goals in his last eight games for Tottenham tells us that.
But the England international is no flat track bully: he’s notched braces against Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool this term, as well as pairs against Everton and West Ham away from home, so there is no danger of Kane becoming a shrinking violet at Old Trafford on Saturday.
He broke his scoring duck against Manchester United in their last meeting, and with Eric Bailly out injured he will surely fancy his chances of winning the physical battle against Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.
That pairing was bullied by Huddersfield’s Laurent Depoitre – as was Victor Lindelof when he replaced Jones – and Eric Choupo-Moting scored a brace against the Red Devils earlier in the term, and that suggests more powerful frontmen can have their way against United.
#2 Negative Thoughts
Jose Mourinho routinely parks the bus against elite opposition because he is fearful of losing, and that suggests he doesn’t fully trust his players to express themselves without abdicating their defensive duties.
It seems as though his negativity somehow creeps into his players. After sending out an ambition-less starting eleven at Anfield a couple of weeks ago, United just about scraped past Benfica before succumbing to a lifeless defeat at Huddersfield against a side who, in Mourinho’s own words, simply wanted it more.
The Mancunians have not been the same swashbuckling outfit since coming back from the international break, and Mourinho has to shoulder plenty of the blame.
The Special One’s record against the big six in league action since the start of last season is, erm, less than special at W2 D5 L4, and clearly he strikes the fear of God into his players: and not in a good way.
#3 Big Game Charlies
It has been a learning curve for Tottenham as they seek to become an established top four side in England, but all of the signs suggest they are well up to the task.
Key to that has been their penchant for playing well in big games – always the hallmark of a team going places.
Already this term they’ve beaten Borussia Dortmund and earned a point at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid – landing one big foot in the Champions League last 16, while their 4-1 win over Liverpool last time out was a statement of intent that any semblance of a Wembley hoodoo is hokum.
Cast your mind back to those big performances last season as well: beating Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, and earning a point at the Etihad Stadium. Spurs are becoming more and more comfortable in big game situations, and it is showing in their results.
#4 Conspicuous By Their Absence
It’s amazing that Mourinho hasn’t moaned more about his injury list at United. Marcos Rojo, Michael Carrick and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are out for the long haul, Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini will definitely miss out on Saturday and then the likes of Ander Herrera, Marcus Rashford and Eric Bailly may be forced to play through the pain barrier.
Compare and contrast that to Tottenham’s minimal list of absentees, with only Victor Wanyama expected to miss the trip to Old Trafford. There could even be a return to the starting line-up for the incomparable Mousa Dembele.
#5 Lukaku Lacking
Romelu Lukaku’s goal record against top six sides: 15 in 58 (1 in every 3.86 matches)
- Romelu Lukaku’s goal record against everybody else: 77 in 136 (1 in every 1.77 matches)
What that means is just 16% of Romelu Lukaku’s Premier League goals have come against elite-level opposition; the epitome of a flat track bully and in stark contrast to Tottenham’s own main man, Harry Kane.
The £75 million signing was anonymous against Liverpool a fortnight ago, and he won’t find the task of getting past Belgian national colleagues Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld any easier on Saturday.