Manchester United will take on Tottenham as a wounded animal, but Mauricio Pochettino and company won’t need to worry about Alexis Sanchez.
Tottenham have opened the season with two relatively comfortable victories, but Monday’s match at Old Trafford will be their sternest test of the young season. In particular, Jose Mourinho will have his troops primed and ready to beat Spurs after their disappointing loss at Brighton last weekend.
The news isn’t all bad for Mauricio Pochettino though. His club does seem primed to get a big break ahead of their showdown with Manchester United. According to Mourinho himself, Alexis Sanchez is a major doubt to be fit for the important fixture.
His absence is going to hand Mourinho a pretty tough decision about who to start on the wing. Romelu Lukaku will almost certainly start in the middle, but Anthony Martial and Juan Mata both played pretty anonymous matches against Brighton. United will hope to have Marcus Rashford back in contention for a starting place, but he’s recovering from a minor injury of his own.
Tottenham will be happy not to see Alexis on the pitch. He hasn’t had quite the impact for United that Mourinho hoped since he arrived from Arsenal, but he has played some excellent matches against Spurs in the past. Pochettino and company would much rather see him on the bench rather than on the pitch.
Don’t expect this move to change Tottenham’s tactics. They will still work to take the game to United whenever possible. In particular, Pochettino will want his fullbacks to press forward to keep Mourinho’s wingers playing defence as much as possible. This is shaping up to be a match where Spurs dominate possession while United sit back and try to hit them on the counter.
United’s job of executing that strategy will be more difficult without Alexis though. He’s one of their best finishers with pace. Him missing out on this fixture is a big boost for Tottenham’s chances of starting the season with three consecutive wins.