Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspurs: The annihilation


Jose Mourinho faced his former team at Old Trafford. He redeemed himself after Manchester United suffered a 6-1 loss, equalling their club record defeat in the Premier League era. United lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. With Pogba and Matic in a double pivot protecting the backline, their newest addition Bruno Fernandes started the game having already scored once and an assist under his belt.

Spurs started with their traditional 4-3-3, Sissoko and Ndombele both earned their spot in the midfield alongside Pierre Hojbjerg. Harry Kane and Heung Min Son return to lead the frontline after sharing 5 goals and 5 assists between them.

tatical setup of both teams

Early Goals

Tottenham suffered an early blow in the opening minutes of the game as United were gifted a penalty. Martial slammed his way through the defense before Sanchez brought him down in the penalty box. Bruno Fernandes stepped up and made sure the ball hit the back of the net.

Spurs were level a few minutes later after a comedy of errors at the back. Maguire fails to head the ball away allowing Ndombele to fire his effort into the back of the net. United concede again in the 7th minute. Harry Kane takes a quick freekick providing a smart through ball to Son who chases after the ball and smartly slots it past De Gea for the lead. A quick inspection of the goal shows that Maguire was unnecessarily off his line. And he failed to trackback which proved to be costly for the home team. United’s defense has been leaky at times primarily due to Harry Maguire who has struggled to justify his price tag. Despite his physicality, his poor positioning combined with his lack of understanding of the game has proven to be a thorn in United’s defense.

The Red Card

Manchester United were reduced to 10 men after Martial received the red card for slapping Eric Lamela in the penalty box. The incident also sees Lamela get a yellow card. Tottenham (Spurs) dominated the game and enjoyed the majority of possession, with Martial out of the equation it was easier to bypass the first line of press. The principle was simple; stretch the pressing line enough to expose gaps to play through it or play around the block.

spurs tatics

Here you can see that Lamela is pinning the fullback allowing Aurier to advance forward. Ndombele plays between the line and can be a passing option if any player jumps out of the line to press Sissoko/Hojbjerg, another possible alternative could be to play around the pressing line by combining with Aurier and Lamela.

taticsl explained

As the play progresses it can be seen that all the aforementioned principles are still consistent. Spurs manage to overload the left flank which shifts the midfield line. A simple switch ball to Aurier who now has space to exploit advances ahead crosses the ball in allowing Son to score a goal.


Manchester United United might have suffered a shock defeat. But this can be seen as an early warning to solve their defensive issues. It is still early and there is a long season ahead of them to contend for the title. Jose Mourinho can be proud of his team who put up a brilliant display and capitalized on the chances created. Currently positioned 6th in the table with 7 points. They can surely use this win to improve their morale and eventually reach the top four.

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Follow this author on his Twitter handle, @lonepivot.

Vivek Partal

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