"We have a fantastic record there," admitted Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, according to the club’s official website. "It's a stadium that's old-fashioned, football-wise, like Aston Villa and Everton. There's always a good atmosphere and we enjoy playing there. But we can't take anything for granted. We have a hard game on Sunday. We have to perform."
Manchester United have a better record at this stage of the season than in any other campaign in their history, having won 18 of 22 games. Yet memories will still be fresh of the 3-2 defeat they suffered to Sunday’s opponents back in September. Tottenham ripped through United’s side early on at Old Trafford and unlike on so many occasions this season, Ferguson’s side’s late pressure was not enough.
The United boss is impressed with Tottenham under Andre Villas-Boas.
“I think Spurs have done well this season," Ferguson said. "I've watched quite a few of their games and their form has been consistent. They're in good form and I think they'll challenge for the top four.
"Villas-Boas has Spurs in the way he wants them and I think there are signs they're playing how he wants them to play. That's what a coach wants to do - get his philosophy across.
Tottenham have won four and drawn two of their last six league outings and currently occupy the precious fourth place in the table. But the disappointment of a draw at Queens Park Rangers last Saturday was greatly increased by a season-ending knee injury suffered by Sandro. Villas-Boas could receive a boost with the return of William Gallas, although Emmanuel Adebayor will be at the African Cup of Nations.
Manchester United will again be without defender Jonny Evans. Otherwise the news is good, with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Nani and Anderson all getting valuable game time in their return to fitness in the FA Cup third-round replay victory over West Ham in midweek. Nemanja Vidic also looks set to return to the side on Sunday.
D: Walker, Caulker, Vertonghen, Naughton
M: Parker, Dembele
Lennon, Dempsey, Bale
Manchester United (probable)
G: De Gea
D: Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra
M: Carrick, Cleverley
Valencia, Rooney, Kagawa
F: Van Persie
Prediction: Perhaps more than any other side this season, Tottenham exposed the weaknesses that exist in Manchester United’s side in the reverse fixture. Tom Cleverley will have to provide the energy in midfield to prevent Michael Carrick’s lack of athleticism being exposed as it was at Old Trafford. Nemanja Vidic’s presence could also be crucial this time around.
Yet Tottenham are in good form and are blessed with the ability to bring in the dependable Scott Parker in place of the impressive Sandro. The pace of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon could cause plenty of problems for United’s sometimes defensively-suspect full-backs.
An entertaining draw could be in store.
Tottenham 2-2 Manchester United
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick-off at 11 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with an online stream available later in the day via Fox Soccer 2Go.