Now, I have never done this before, but this time, I would like to start by saying “IN YOUR FACE” to a whole lot of people, including Andy Gray, Paul Parker, the whole team of pundits at ESPN Star Sports and of course to Mike Dean, the referee. Against all odds, United played like a true champion and came out victorious (at least for me). This is called team performance. This is what other teams don’t have. This is why UNITED ARE THE CHAMPIONS.
FT Score: Tottenham Hotspurs 0-0 Manchester United.
I think today (16/01/2011) can be easily dubbed as the Super Drawday instead of Super Sunday after all the big 4 games ended in draws : Spurs 0-0 United, Sunderland 1-1 Newcastle, B'gham 0-0 Aston Villa, Everton 2-2 Liverpool.
United got a major boost in the form of the flying Dutchman, Van Der Sar’s return. The 40 year old veteran was kept on the sidelines for three matches by flu. Also, to support him were the set back four of Rafael, Rio, Vidic and Evra. The midfield was held together by Giggs, Fletcher, Carrick and Nani. Rooney and Berbatov played up front. The United lineup included two ex-Spurs players in Carrick and Berbatov and also the Spurs enemy after his bizarre goal, Nani. And the Lane’s faithful did everything to upset their rhythm with constant boos and jeers. As the match progressed, Rafael became their target too.
Full Match Highlights
Giggs' played his 600th Premier League game and became the only United player to achieve this feat.
United's defence in a nutshell: ROCK SOLID!
United have taken more points against Spurs than any other team since the advent of the Premier League. In a total of 132 outings, Spurs managed to win just 32 with United winning 72. But this time, it was closer than ever. It was always going to be a Gareth Bale show, with all the pre-match talks circling around him and Rafael DaSilva. And he didn’t disappoint the Hart Lane fans by tearing apart United defense within 20 seconds of kickoff with his trademark thundering run on the left wing. His shot was easily held firmly by Van Der Sar.
The game was pretty much end-to-end in the early minutes of the match and in the 2nd minute, Rooney, who looked pretty good the whole game, crossed from the right and after missing everyone only found Gomes’ goal and out. Bale was making life tough for Rafael who had to be helped by Rio Ferdinand from time to time. On the other wing, Evra looked comfortable against Lennon and seemed not too bothered by his pace.
The game gained pace and in the 7th minute, Carrick tripped Palacios in a dangerous position. Van Der Vaart and Bale had a long discussion before VDV coming and striking the ball that landed safely in his fellow countryman’s hands. Spurs looked dangerous and in the 9th minute, Hutton’s cross was headed by the tall Peter Crouch. Though, his shot missed the post by inches. United looked sloppy and gave away free kicks frequently in the first half. Giggs committed a foul in the 13th minute. VDV came forward to take the free kick again but some good defending made the free kick end in a goal kick for United. Spurs had a firm grip on the match and enjoyed 62% possession in the first 15 minutes of the match.
United showed their attacking skills in the 17th minute with Rafael and Berbatov combining in the Spurs half and finally the ball fell for Rooney who crossed the ball that teased everyone and went out undisturbed. The first of the many bookings in the match came in the 21st minute when VDV’s foul on Rooney saw his name go into the referee’s book. Rooney looked at his best and hit few shots on target in the first half, only to be denied by Gomes. Rafael got into referee’s book too in the 26th minute after his two footed challenge on Palacios saw him get a yellow. It did not stop him from playing his natural game and in the 36th minute, a run that would make even the blistering Bale jealous saw Palacios tackle the tiny Brazilian. Palacios was booked for that challenge. Rafael made another super run in the 40th min only to be let down by his final pass. He twisted and turned around the Spurs defenders before passing to Nani. But the pass never reached Nani and was intercepted by an alert Spurs back four.
Bale made use of his pace and crossed to VDV whose header went agonizingly close from United goal. The first half ended with Fletcher getting a yellow too.
The second half began less dramatically than the first. Both teams looked at ease till in the 50th minute, Giggs delivery from a corner was headed towards the goal by Carrick. United continued their attack and in the 52nd minute, Rooney’s surging run and shot took something special from Gomes to keep the English international from scoring. It was Evra’s turn to get a yellow as the Frenchman fouled Lennon just outside the penalty box. VDV’s free kick was collected easily by VDS.
Rafael's Red card video against Tottenham: Mike Dean you got this COMPLETELY WRONG
Rafael's ridiculous Red Card decision
The first substitution came in the 60th minute with Nani coming off for Anderson. United changed their formation with Rooney playing on the right side with Berbatov left as the lone striker. Rafael got his second yellow of the match, and thus his marching orders in the 70th minute for his foul on Assou-Ekotto. Though, the replays suggested that he was actually trying to go out of the Spurs man’s way. He might have made things worse for him with his protests after getting the sending off. Rooney got a yellow for protesting against the red too.
Redknapp decided to make an attacking change and replaced Palacios with Defoe. The move triggered a flurry of attempts on goal by the Spurs players and with United down to 10 men and concentrating on defending more than attacking, the game dragged towards a 0-0 draw. Though, a sloppy defending from Chicarito, who came on for Berbatov, nearly saw Van Der Vaart’s curling shot find the back of the net. But apart from that, the match ended in an exciting 0-0 draw. United would be happier of the two sides since they went to Hart Lane as the “underdogs” and were down to 10 men and still managed a point out of probably their most difficult match of the season.
United are now back to the top of the table on goal difference with City on the second. Though, City have played two matches more than United. Spurs who had a chance to topple Chelsea from the 4th spot will have to satisfy with the 5th spot for another week at least.