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A shadow will hang over White Hart Lane where Manchester United will take on Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, in the English Premier League.

It has been almost 10 years since Spurs tasted victory against United, when in the last game of the 2000-01 season, they gained a 3-1 win at White Hart Lane against a United side who were already assured of a winners medal.

However, Spurs have never been in better shape to defeat United. They can be considered as genuine contenders for the title this season, and United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, knows his side have to be at the top of the game if they are to preserve their unbeaten record this season.

Spurs have been victims of woeful refereeing in the 23 matches since their last win over United, the latest of which came in the corresponding fixture earlier this season when Nani scored after Spurs keeper Hurelho Gomes had placed what he thought was a dead ball, giving United a 2-0 win at Old Trafford.

However, the London club can look upon their talents who have been brilliant so far this season. Gareth Bale, who is expected to start the fixture despite missing training during the week due to injury, has been instrumental for the lily whites, scoring 11 goals so far this season. Rafael Van der Vart, brought during the summer from Real Madrid, has also scored 11 goals, while Luka Modric has been at his creative best at the heart of the Spurs midfield.  

With such quality Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, was within his rights to claim that his side can finally beat United. He also raised doubts on whether United could emulate the Arsenal side of 2003 and go through the season unbeaten.

You have to believe that you can win the game, Redknapp said, and there's no reason why we should not believe that. When we play well, we are as exciting as anybody. They will be worried about us as well. They will be worried about how they can contain Bale, Lennon and Van der Vaart. We'll play the way we play and we'll see how we go.

We're probably in a better opposition than a lot of the teams that they've played away from home. I couldn't see United going unbeaten because I don't think they are on a completely different planet to the rest of the teams. They'd be favorites to win the league but I'd be surprised if they went unbeaten.

However, United will be a difficult team to beat, as always. In Saturday's fixtures, United's cross-town rivals Manchester City recorded a 4-3 victory against Wolves to take them to the top of the table with a point's lead. What is daunting is that United are second despite playing three games lesser than City. The red-devils are unbeaten this season, bar a Carling Cup upset against West Ham, and are favorites to win the title.

Critics pointed out that if they did win the title come end of the season, it would be by default as Chelsea and Arsenal's failures left United's fate in their own hands. However, Sir Alex raised scorn to the suggestions. He said, You are always going to have a different appraisal of Manchester United to other clubs. But it is good for the players to be reminded that sometimes we have to be perfect. It's a fact of life. We have to keep raising the bar.

Our performances have been wrongly assessed. There have been some away games that have been disappointing but there has not been a single home game that we did not dominate. Not one.

Even the Arsenal game we dominated. We could have scored five against Arsenal, truth be told. In the press you read it was a bad game, a terrible game. Arsenal had one shot at goal against Manchester United. That's the truth of the matter. Our performances at home have been very good.

The Scot also said Bale would be the main threat against his side, but backed his 20-year-old right back, Rafael Da Silva, to mute the winger in much the same manner as he did in the corresponding fixture at Old Trafford.

He came as a left-back back then but Harry Redknapp has found a position for him using the player's talents, his tremendous speed and the fact he is a great crosser of the ball. Van der Vaart has made a good contribution goals-wise, he has good ability on the ball and he's been a good signing. But the best contribution, without doubt, has been Bale, who has scored 11 goals, which is a really good return for a wide player.

The thing about Rafael is that he's not making any rash decisions. He was quite an impulsive young boy last season. But his form this season has been absolutely brilliant. He has learned. His concentration levels have improved. He's still only 20, just a young boy, and you don't expect young defenders to be consistent but he has been really consistent this season.

The fixture has been one of the most anticipated in the past, and it is so this season as well, with very high expectations of a thriller.

Team News -

Spurs will be without Huddlestone, King, O'Hara and Woodgate but Gareth Bale is expected to play despite missing training during the week through injury.

Scholes and Van der Sar are doubtful for United, but Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic will make their return after the pair sat out against Liverpool last weekend.

Facts -

Tottenham have won just three of 37 Premier League clashes with Manchester United. They have failed to win any of their last 23 meetings with Manchester United in all competitions with their last victory being a 3-1 success in May 2001 at White Hart Lane.

Trivia -

David Beckham, who is currently training with Spurs, played 394 times for Manchester United and scored 85 goals.

Prediction -

All things taken into consideration, it is about time Spurs got their win against United. They will give it a real go, and might nick it 2-1.

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