Allen Hamilton

What: English Premier League
Who: Manchester United (3rd; 17 points) vs Tottenham Hotspur (5th; 15 points)
When: Saturday 30th October, 2010, at 17:30 UK time
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester, England

Building Some Momentum

Manchester United may not have blown away the opposition of late, but victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Carling Cup on Tuesday made it three wins in a row for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Such an achievement may not be anything to shout about for the Old Trafford outfit, but coming after successive Premier League draws against Sunderland and West Brom, it was vital United rediscovered the winning habit as soon as possible.

And in getting back to winning ways, United appear to have unearthed a real gem in Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. The Mexican youngster has scored four goals in the Red Devils’ last four games and was chiefly responsible for digging out a win at Stoke City – Hernandez scored both in the 2-1 win – and also helping United past Wolves in midweek. Hernandez was expected to be treated with kid gloves by Ferguson this season and eased in, but with Wayne Rooney injured and misfiring, Michael Owen on the sidelines again and Dimitar Berbatov striking up a good understanding with the Mexican, he has made the breakthrough quicker than expected.

A Week to Prepare

While exiting the Carling Cup at the hands of bitter rivals Arsenal was not cause for cheer at White Hart Lane, Spurs have at least felt they have had some benefit this week. Defender Alan Hutton went on the record to say that after a series of tough midweek games, including Champions League battles, the players were glad of a week off. Whether the rest has done Harry Redknapp’s side any good can perhaps only truly be judged after the 90 minutes are played at Old Trafford.

The buzz around Spurs in recent weeks has been all about Gareth Bale. The Welshman has been in imperious form, scoring a hat-trick in the San Siro against Inter – the stuff dreams are made of – and piquing the interest of giants across the continent. Indeed, it may be that Spurs have cause to regret letting Bale shine so soon on the European stage, wary as they are of big money bids arriving in the summer. Again at Old Trafford, a player dubbed "on a level with Brazilians" by keeper Heurelho Gomes, will have the chance to help Spurs go above United.


Recent form

Manchester United:
Manchester United 1-0 Bursaspor (20/10; Champions League)
Stoke City 1-2 Manchester United (24/10; Premier League)
Manchester United 3-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers (26/10; League Cup)

Tottenham Hotspur:
Fulham 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur (16/10; Premier League)
Internazionale 4-3 Tottenham Hotspur (20/10; Champions League)
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Everton (23/10; Premier League)

Key absences

Manchester United: Wayne Rooney; Michael Owen; Owen Hargreaves (doubt); Ryan Giggs; Antonio Valencia

Tottenham Hotspur: Vedran Corluka; Jermain Defoe; Michael Dawson; Jamie O’Hara; Jonathan Woodgate

Players to watch

Manchester United – Dimitar Berbatov: With all the attention now heading the way of Javier Hernandez, Berbatov can come in to the meeting with his old club relatively free of pressure. Having enjoyed a stellar start to the season the jury have returned a positive verdict on the Bulgarian and with the burden of proving himself lifted, Bertbatov is flourishing.

Tottenham Hotspur – Gareth Bale: The Welshman is fast becoming one of the best players in the Premier League and, watching his displays, observers might be forgiven for doubting that he is just 21 years old. If Bale can excel in the San Siro then turning in a match winning performance at Old Trafford is clearly not beyond him. If Spurs are to take three points, Bale will be central to it.

Match prediction

Manchester United are finding some momentum and grinding out wins, but Spurs represent their toughest test since visiting Goodison Park earlier in the season. While United’s fans will expect a victory, Spurs are in fine fettle and are finding the belief that they can compete with the very best. An exciting game is in prospect, with a 1-1 or 2-2 draw looking a reasonable outcome.