Manchester United could again be without first-choice forward duo Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney in Tottenham's visit to Old Trafford on New Year’s Day. The pair missed the 1-0 victory over Norwich City on Saturday, with Rooney suffering from a groin injury and Van Persie having been absent for several weeks with a thigh problem. Manager David Moyes confirmed that the Dutchman remains on the sidelines, while Rooney will face a late fitness test.
“We need to wait and see [about Rooney],” he said, according to Manchester United’s official website. “He didn't train today so we'll assess him tomorrow and see how he is. “Van Persie is not quite ready yet, but hopefully he's not too far away.”
Manchester United have won their last four matches in the Premier League, and six games in all competitions, to rise to the sixth spot in the table. While not getting carried away with the recent upturn in results, Moyes does believe that he is getting a better handle on the squad at his disposal.
"I don't think anybody is jumping up and down because we've won six games in a row," he said in his pre-match press conference. "I think it is what is expected here. But it's nice that you mentioned it."
"I do think I've got a better idea of the players, certainly since the opening months when we came here," said Moyes. "I think it comes with time and experience and the more you get to know players. With time, you better understand them and we're certainly getting much closer to that."
It is just a month since Manchester United and Tottenham met in a 2-2 draw where Spurs impressed and twice took the lead. But the man that oversaw that performance, Andre Villas-Boas, soon found himself out of a job to be surprisingly replaced by the technical coordinator of the club’s youth setup Tim Sherwood.
It has been a mixed set of results since the former Spurs midfielder took the reins, having seen the side eliminated from the Capital One Cup by West Ham and disappointingly held at home by West Brom but scoring six goals in wins over Southampton and, on Tuesday, Stoke City.
Sherwood has put a clear emphasis on playing in a more offensive style, with Christian Eriksen stating that he has benefited in the shift of approach.
"He [Sherwood] says you have to enjoy it," he said, according to The Guardian. "Play positively. For me it's only good. Of course it was a bit of a different role for me than the other games, a bit more attacking. I like that more.
"When we have the ball, of course for me it is easier if we play more attacking. We had the space to play like we should and I think we tried to use the space they gave. I tried to do what I could in the space.
"The coach is saying to play more free. We have seen that in the games. He said it looked like we were a little bit afraid. We shouldn't be afraid – just play and now you see we are good. If we dare, we have a really good team and really good chances.”
Tottenham will face Manchester United without Paulinho, with the Brazilian midfielder out for four weeks with an ankle injury. He joins Jan Vertonghen, Younes Kaboul, Sandro, and Andros Townsend on the sidelines. Jermain Defoe is a doubt with a hamstring problem, but Kyle Walker returns after serving a one-match suspension last time out.
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League clash will kick off at 12.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBCSN, with a live stream available via NBC Sports Live Extra.