Soccer

Man United, Tottenham eye top four as 2014 dawns

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Rooney (jumping) against Spurs in a previous match. He is battling to be fit for the match.

Rooney (jumping) against Spurs in a previous match. He is battling to be fit for the match. PHOTO BY AFP 

By AFP

Posted  Wednesday, January 1  2014 at  02:00

In Summary

Tottenham ended their 14 years wait without a win over Man United in September 2012 with a 3-2 win. It was also their first success at Old Trafford since 1989.

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LONDON

Manchester United and Tottenham will be looking to poke sticks in each other’s wheel spokes when they face off in the Premier League’s stand-out New Year’s Day fixture.

Both sides have endured trying periods this season, United losing five of their first 15 games and Tottenham sacking manager Andre Villas-Boas, but both have enjoyed improved fortunes in recent weeks.

United have won their last six games in all competitions, while Tottenham are unbeaten in the league under new head coach Tim Sherwood, who has introduced an adventurous 4-4-2 formation.

The two teams remain eight points behind leaders Arsenal, with United ahead of Spurs on goal difference, but results over the festive period enabled them to close to within just three points of the Champions League places. Liverpool, meanwhile, are only two points ahead, having conceded their grip on top spot and slipped to fifth place following consecutive losses at title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea.

United expect to welcome back Wayne Rooney after he missed Saturday’s 1-0 win at Norwich City with a groin injury but Robin van Persie remains sidelined due to a thigh problem. In the Dutchman’s absence, manager David Moyes has urged Danny Welbeck, scorer of four goals in his last four league games, to carry his impressive recent form through to the end of the season.
Spurs held United to a 2-2 draw when the sides last met at White Hart Lane on December 1 and won 3-2 on their last visit to Old Trafford in September 2012.

Arsenal finished 2013 in first place after a hard-fought 1-0 win at Newcastle United at the weekend and today they host a Cardiff City side still adjusting to life without sacked manager Malky Mackay.

However, with Manchester City a point behind in second place and Chelsea a point further back in third, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes that it is too early to be thinking about the league title.

TODAY’S FIXTURES
Swansea v Man City (SS3, 3.45 pm LIVE)
Southampton v Chelsea (SS3, 6 pm LIVE)
Man United v Tottenham (SS3, 8.30 pm LIVE)
Arsenal v Cardiff City (SS5, 6 pm LIVE)
Liverpool v Hull City (SS6, 6 pm LIVE)
Palace v Norwich
Fulham v West Ham
Stoke City v Everton
Sunderland v Aston Villa
West Brom v Newcastle