Manchester United will be desperate to bounce back from a galling 2-1 defeat to Huddersfield Town last weekend by displaying to the rest of the division a capacity to dominate big games against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho’s men lie above Spurs in second only on goal difference and now sit five points off leaders Manchester City.
The 54-year-old confirmed at a press conference that Phil Jones was fit to feature, adding that Eric Bailly is a “possibility”, while Harry Kane will miss the game with a hamstring problem.
And with that in mind, here are three players who must start against Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Everything quickly fell apart once Jones left the field with a hip injury last weekend and supporters will be praying to see the 25-year-old – arguably United’s best defender this season – leading the line with his usual aggression and power on Saturday.
Kane may be injured, but the physical threat of Fernando Llorente, along with the running power of Son Heung-min, will keep Jones firmly on his toes and he will need to keep them quiet to give United a platform from which to dominate.
The Belgian has encountered something of a dry patch in October, failing to score in three consecutive games, but will be buoyed by returning to Old Trafford, where he has only drawn a blank once this season.
For all the criticism he has picked up in recent times, we cannot forget that this is a man with 11 goals to his name already at United and can, on his day, tear defenders to shreds. Supporters will want to see some quality delivery heading in his direction.
Plenty of talk surrounds Kane when it comes to Spurs’ success, but the real secret behind their attacking charm lies with the dynamic duo of Dele Alli and Chrisian Eriksen, and it will fall on Matic – a sensational force under Mourinho so far – to minimise their influence in the middle on Saturday.
Their confidence always stems from seeing the aforementioned pair get on the ball and the Serbian, in turn, has the decisive job of dominating physically and moving play through the lines to Henrikh Mkhitaryan.