Prior to the visit to the home of the champions, Tottenham Hotspur had not won at Old Trafford since 1989. And a daunting task was made even more so when Harry Redknapp announced before the game that Luka Modric had failed to travel with the rest of the squad because his “head was not right”.
Manchester United made three changes from their win at West Bromwich last weekend with Jonny Evans and Phil Jones coming in for the injured Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic and stand-in skipper Patrice Evra replaced Fabio as the left-back. Danny Welbeck was handed another start ahead of Berbatov and Tom Cleverley and Anderson retained their central midfield berths.
Tottenham decided to hand rookie Jake Livermore a start ahead of Tom Huddlestone and Kyle Walker picked ahead of Vedran Corluka. Brad Friedel was handed his Tottenham debut in goal by Harry Redknapp ahead of a disgruntled looking Heurelho Gomes.
The first real chance of the game fell to Tom Cleverley when Ashley Young’s square pass found him in acres of space just outside Spurs’ penalty area. But Brad Friedel, who seems to excel whenever he comes up against Manchester United, pulled off a remarkable one handed save which defied all of his 40 years.
Tottenham had the lion’s share of the possession in the first half but they failed to make it count. The intention was clear from the off, they were going to test United’s under scrutiny goalkeeper David De Gea from long range. Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart and Jermain Defor all registered attempts on target in the opening 45 minutes but they failed to really test the United stopper.
Manchester United came out all guns blazing in the second half and finally broke the deadlock on the hour mark. Assou-Ekotto gave the ball away needlessly and Cleverley pounced on it. After a neat exchange with Smalling on the right wing, he married a beautiful cross which Danny Welbeck rose to head into the bottom left hand corner of the Spurs net.
After that it was all United and it didn’t take them long to double their advantage when another counter-attack involving the brilliant Rooney materialized into a goal. Rooney picked out Anderson who was again given a lot of space to move forward. He picked out Welbeck who pulled off an audacious backheel into the path of Anderson who calmly slotted the ball past a helpless Friedel.
At the other end, Tottenham has their best chance of the game when David De Gea spilled a straight forward cross but Defoe only managed to hit the inside of the post with the goal gaping.
Tottenham were made to pay for the miss when Ryan Giggs, on for Cleverley, found Rooney unmarked in the box and the United striker made it two goals in as many games as he headed United into a comfortable three goal lead.