Manchester United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur: Five lessons we learned

by Sam Peoples

New Year hangover. Manchester United started the game very positively and put Tottenham Hotspur under real pressure in the first 15 minutes but it was Spurs who scored first with a well placed header from Emmanuel Adebayor.

United weren’t clinical enough going forward and were punished on the counter attack as Christian Eriksen headed in a second after a lapse in concentration from Antonio Valencia allowed him to sneak in front of him to finish.

After the second goal went in, United came alive with an instant response from Danny Welbeck and finally started to threaten Spurs. It was all systems go then but a catalogue of decisions going against us, and a number of saves from Hugo Lloris, kept us out and gave Spurs their second win at Old Trafford in a row.

The loss puts an end to United’s winning streak and Spurs have now become the latest team to win at Old Trafford. What has happened to the fear factor?

Where was the momentum? United should have been buzzing going into this game against Tottenham. Two gritty performances against Hull and Norwich saw us walk away with six points when we weren’t at our best and it should have given the team a morale boost as it is the hallmark of champions to win no matter what.

Instead, we didn’t use it as momentum and after an impressive start, we let Tottenham get into the game which they punished us for. Why did it take a second goal from Tottenham for United to wake up? It was only after Eriksen’s goal that we really attacked with real intent which was a disappointment given our recent results. We should have dictated the ebb and flow of the game but it was Spurs who ended up doing that with their goals.

Dodgy decisions. David Moyes has every right to be angry with the decisions that went against United today. Hugo Lloris’ wreckless, high footed lunge was a stonewall penalty and could well have been a red card too yet Howard Webb waved it away. Webb also dismissed Danny Welbeck’s fall in the area after he was clipped by Spurs’ defender – if it wasn’t a foul, it should have been a yellow for diving. Later on, Webb booked Januzaj for diving after he was clattered on the edge of the box by a clumsy Danny Rose challenge.

There were plenty of decisions that, if they had gone United’s way, would have changed the game completely. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Moyes get his first FA ban following these comments.

Full back weakness. It has been an issue all season but our full backs were the weak spot that ultimately let the team down today.

Patrice Evra was nowhere to be seen when Tottenham broke down the right and crossed in for Adebayor to head in and Antonio Valencia‘s lack of concentration was at fault for Eriksen’s goal.

At right-back, Valencia hasn’t been very good this season as he has had a few errors that have costed United dearly. Far too often, Evra has left United open to the counter attack by not sprinting back into position after attacking and there is no doubt that United miss Rafael when he isn’t playing and need to strengthen at left back.

Title slip. Winning the Premier League was always going to be difficult this year after the start we had but a string of wins brought us right back into contention. However, the loss today has swung the pendulum in the other direction again.

The loss leaves us nine, 10 and 11 points behind Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Who will win the Premier League this year? It is completely up in the air but United cannot afford to slip up if we are to stay in contention.

Image: Twitter/ManUtd

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