Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur: 5 key battles to look out for | Premier League 2022-23

In picture: Cristiano Ronaldo (left) | Eric Dier (right)
In picture: Cristiano Ronaldo (left) | Eric Dier (right)

Premier League heavyweights Manchester United will welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Old Trafford for their Premier League clash on Wednesday evening (October 19).

Having picked up 16 points from nine Premier League matches, the Red Devils find themselves in fifth place in the rankings. Spurs, on the other hand, sit seven points clear of them in third place after 10 games.

Both Manchester United and Tottenham have an abundance of brilliant footballers at their disposal, many of whom can single-handedly tip the scales in their team’s favor. Today we will take a look at 10 such players who could prove to be decisive in the clash at Old Trafford.

Here are five key battles to keep an eye on in the highly-anticipated midweek Premier League encounter:

#5 Antony vs Ben Davies

Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Manchester United’s marquee signing Antony has been in impressive form since joining from Ajax in the summer transfer window. The Brazilian forward has scored thrice in four Premier League appearances, dazzling the opposition with his trickery and pace. Antony loves to cut into the box from the right. Trying to do so on Wednesday could land him in left-center-back Ben Davies’ crosshairs.

First, Lisandro Martinez's height, now Antony being a 'one-footed' player despite having a good start and Erik ten Hag saying 4 days ago that his variation is currently being worked on and "he can go both ways."Not easy being a Manchester United player.

Davies is one of the most important cogs in Conte’s system. He commands the left side of the defense, links up with players ahead of him, and maintains a cool head even in the most nerve-wracking situations. It will be interesting to see how Antony goes about trying to get the better of the Tottenham stalwart.

#4 Christian Eriksen vs Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

Manchester United v Omonia Nikosia: Group E - UEFA Europa League
Manchester United v Omonia Nikosia: Group E - UEFA Europa League

As confirmed by Manchester United boss Ten Hag, Christian Eriksen missed the goalless draw against Newcastle due to illness. Without him running the show, United looked clueless in the middle of the park, struggling to create clear-cut openings. Eriksen has been included in United’s matchday squad against Tottenham, meaning he could be involved in some capacity against his old club at Old Trafford.

Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg appreciation tweet 👏🏻

Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg could be the one tasked with keeping Eriksen at bay. Both midfielders are industrious, can take the ball forward, and are capable of shooting from range. While Hojbjerg is a tad quicker than Eriksen, the Dane makes up for it with his superior game-reading skills.

Hojbjerg has scored thrice and claimed an assist in 10 Premier League games this season, while Eriksen has popped up with two league assists. It’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top in the crucial midfield battle on Wednesday.

#3 Heung-min Son vs Diogo Dalot

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Last season’s joint Premier League Golden Boot winner (23 goals) Heung-min Son endured a slow start to the 2022-23 Premier League season, failing to score in the opening six games. The Tottenham forward then scored a hat trick in a 6-2 win over Leicester City and has looked considerably sharper since.

Todo o carisma de Heung-min Son.

Manchester United right-back Diogo Dalot, who has claimed an assist in nine Premier League appearances this season, will be tasked with neutralizing the forward on Wednesday. The Portuguese may not be the brightest when it comes to charging forward, but he is more than capable of holding his own at the back.

The duel between Son and Dalot could have a massive bearing on the outcome of the game.

#2 Harry Kane vs Raphael Varane

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League

Courtesy of Erling Haaland’s inhuman form in the Premier League (15 goals in 10 matches), Harry Kane’s exploits have gone under the radar. The Tottenham Hotspur man has also been in superb form in front of goal this season, scoring nine times and claiming an assist in 10 appearances thus far.

I will die on this hill. Harry Kane is the best prem player of the last decade…

Raphael Varane, who has looked sharp in almost all of his eight Premier League appearances this season, could turn out to be Kane’s kryptonite at Old Trafford.

Varane is capable of dominating aerial duels, knows how to read dangerous passages of play, and rarely commits silly fouls in and around the box. If the Frenchman can bring his ‘A game,’ Kane could have a hard time running at the opposition in full tilt.

#1 Cristiano Ronaldo vs Eric Dier

Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League
Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League

A week after netting the 700th club goal of his career (2-1 win against Everton), Cristiano Ronaldo cut a frustrating figure against Newcastle United at home (October 16). The Manchester United star failed to lodge even a single shot on target, often dropping way too deep to put pressure on the opposition.

Marcus Rashford, who replaced him in the last 20 minutes against Newcastle, could take Ronaldo's place against Tottenham. But Ronaldo’s hat trick against the Lilywhites at Old Trafford last season (3-2 win) just might compel Ten Hag to give him another shot.

"We lost against Ronaldo, not against Man United" 👀Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says Cristiano Ronaldo "solved the situation alone" against his side last season after a hat-trick at Old Trafford ⚪🔙

The Portuguese superstar may have lost his pace, but Eric Dier is unlikely to take him lightly. The Englishman is well aware of Ronaldo's ability to finish half-chances and could try to make life difficult for him by marking him closely. The outcome of this particular battle could tip the scales of the tie one way or the other.

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Edited by Sushan Chakraborty
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