David Moyes has challenged his Manchester United players to start producing the kind of performance that saw them blast Bayer Leverkusen 5-0 in midweek on a regular basis. United came up with their best display since Moyes took the reins this summer in confirming their place in the Champions League knockout phase in emphatic style with a hammering of the side currently second in the Bundesliga on their own turf. But, ahead of their meeting with Tottenham at White hart Lane on Sunday, Moyes signaled that greater consistency was key.
“The best is to come and I still think we can continue to improve and progress," he said at his pre-match press conference, according to Manchester United’s official website.
"We had some little bits of inconsistency at times, which we need to try to do better with, but there have been moments that have shown we are beginning to come right back into form. That is what I hope. Midweek certainly showed what we are capable of when we are playing well and the job is to do that week in, week out."
United’s scintillating display was built on the trio of Ryan Giggs, Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney, which now gives Moyes a major selection dilemma. Giggs, who incredibly turned 40 on Friday, may not be able to play at a high level twice in just four days, while the possible return of Robin van Persie could mean Kagawa again moving out wide with Rooney dropping in behind. Van Persie has been nursing a groin injury, but is expected to have a late fitness test.
After three successive Premier League wins, United lost more valuable ground on those sides above them when conceding an injury-time equalizer at Cardiff City last week. Still, it was nothing compared to the blow suffered by their next opponents, Tottenham.
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Having been struggling to score goals in the early part of the season, Andre Villas-Boas’s side suddenly conceded a flurry of them in losing 6-0 to Manchester City. Still, the situation isn’t necessarily nearly as gloomy as subsequent headlines have painted it out to be, with Tottenham just a point behind United in the Premier League table and still within touching distance of the top four. Villas-Boas is eager for the team to help eradicate the memory of last week’s humiliation with a strong showing against the champions.
“We were hurt after the display against City, the players, the staff, everyone involved in the club,” he said, according to Tottenham’s official website. “We all want to bounce back and it’s the first opportunity in the Premier League to do that.
“I think our fans will help us try to get one over them and hopefully we can do that.”
Tottenham did get a victory on Thursday in beating Tromso 2-0 in Norway. Villas-Boas made nine changes for the encounter and is likely to recall many of those left out. The fact that Roberto Soldado played the full 90 minutes suggests that he may be dropped against United. Emanuel Adebayor, who made his first appearance of the season against City, could start, although he is nursing a groin injury. Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose and Harry Kane are all still ruled out.
D: Walker, Kaboul, Dawson, Vertonghen
M: Sandro, Paulinho
Lennon, Holtby, Sigurdsson
Manchester United (probable)
G: De Gea
D: Smalling, Vidic, Evans, Evra
M: Cleverley, Fellaini
Valencia, Rooney, Kagawa
F: Van Persie
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick off at 7 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the NBC Sports Network, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.