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United Gets First Real Test Under Solskjaer as Big Dog at Spurs Sunday

Paul Pogba Tottenham Manchester United Betting Preview

Since parting ways with Jose Mourinho and bringing in caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United has been red-hot, winning all four Premier League games and all five in all competitions. Sunday’s meeting with Tottenham and permanent manager-target Mauricio Pochettino will be the Norwegian’s first real test and their odds certainly reflect that.

Online shop Bovada has the Red Devils as hefty underdogs at +270 in moneyline markets while Spurs are +110 and the draw +265. As far as the spread is concerned, Tottenham is the half-goal fave at +105 with United -125 at +0.5. The total is at 3.0 with OVER +110 and UNDER -130.

This game is a pretty tough one to cap. If it was Mourinho still on the touchline, I’d have no problem backing Spurs. But with a new manager and a new approach to the game, United is a totally different team. With that in mind, let’s try to find some bets for this one.

SHARK BITES
  • Manchester United has won five straight in all competitions since parting ways with Jose Mourinho.
  • Tottenham won the reverse fixture 3-0 back in August.
  • Midfielder Paul Pogba has four goals in four Premier League games since Solskjaer took over.

Tottenham vs Manchester United Game Center

New Manager, New Tactics, New United

After what must have been an infuriating 17 Premier League matches for United fans this season, wrought with stale tactics, massive ego and largely depressing results, the club parted ways with manager Jose Mourinho.

In comes former United goalscoring hero Solskjaer, who has led the Red Devils to four straight league wins and five straight in all competitions. But the proof isn’t just in the results. United looks like it is actually having fun on the pitch again.

Since the appointment, United has scored 15 goals in four league games. In 17 matches under Mourinho this season, the Red Devils managed just 28 goals. More impressive, thanks to getting nothing but wins, the Norwegian has helped reduce the gap to the top four from 11 points to now just six. Furthermore, United is 10 points back of third-placed Spurs and another three points would be huge for the club.

The obvious difference at United is that Solskjaer’s approach to tactics is polar-opposite to Mourinho’s. Mourinho, famous for his bus-parking, was yielding boring football despite a slew of talented players. Solskjaer likes his players to play free-flowing, attacking football and players like Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba, whom we’ll get to in a minute, have really benefited.

The caveat here is that Spurs will be Ole Gunnar’s first real test. Will he keep that same approach to the game or will he focus more on trying to contain Spurs’ lethal attack and dynamic playmaking?

Spurs Added Another Win Over United in the Reverse Fixture

Speaking of that Spurs attack, it was out in full force at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture as Lucas Moura scored twice after Harry Kane opened the scoring in a 3-0 Spurs win.

It was a sturdy defensive effort from Tottenham as they let United win the possession battle with 57 percent of the ball and faced a whopping 23 shots, most of which sailed off target.

But Spurs have had a great run of success against United recently, especially at home. Tottenham has won three straight home games and has three wins and three draws in the last six on home turf in the Premier League.

In nine matches against United while at the helm at Tottenham, Pochettino has managed 13 points thanks to four wins and a draw. This is what makes Sunday’s match very intriguing, though. This is a very different United under Solskjaer but, again, this is his first real test after thumping some less-than-stellar competition.

Unleash the Pogba

As stated above, several United players have found new life under their new caretaker manager, but perhaps none more so than Paul Pogba.

In four Premier League games since Mourinho was shipped out of town, the France international has bagged four goals and three assists and played a full 90 minutes in all four games. Most importantly, Pogba appears to be loving life now, but winning and scoring goals will tend to bring out the smiles.

Spurs pose a different challenge than the Cardiffs, Huddersfields, Bournemouths and Newcastles of the league, though. Pogba has yet to score a Premier League goal against Tottenham (in three appearances) and has lost two of those three games.

Different manager, different Pogba, however. Solskjaer has certainly been using Pogba more to his skill set than Mourinho was. Solskjaer will normally line up in a 4-2-3-1 with Pogba as the CAM in the attacking band behind the striker, but will also line up in a 4-3-3 with Pogba in the midfield three.

It will be interesting to see how United lines up tactically against a top club in the Premier League but considering he’s +220 to score anytime Sunday, he’s not a bad player to back in this sort of market considering his new lease on life at United.

Ninja’s Pick

If you follow me on Twitter or read my Premier League content, you know very well I’m a Tottenham supporter. So if I put out a play I like in a Tottenham game, I could fully understand if you might stay away from tailing my pick. That said, my best advice here might be Manchester United/Draw double chance at -125.

Spurs are coming off a midweek game against Chelsea which saw Pochettino field a largely first-choice XI. This, paired with a very different-looking United compared to what we saw in August, makes this a very interesting contest.

Clearly I’ll be rooting for Spurs and might play some goalscorer markets, but I really like the look of the United double chance wager here.