EPL PREVIEW: TOTTENHAM – MANCHESTER UNITED
Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United resume their Premier League campaigns on Friday following a break of over three months.
The sides experienced contrasting form prior to the coronavirus-enforced shutdown, with United going 11 games unbeaten in all competitions and Spurs going winless in six games.
United are much better placed to finish in the top five, sitting three places higher than Spurs.
Recall that United made their worst-ever start to a Premier League campaign, leading to serious doubts over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's future at Old Trafford.
The Red devils however turned the corner in January, winning eight and drawing three of their 11 games since their 2nil home loss against Burnley.
Solskjaer's men have taken 11 points from the last 15 in the Premier League, including a stunning 2nil victory over Manchester City last time out in the competition.
They are also through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, where Norwich City awaits them, and are 5nil up against LASK Linz in the last 16 of the Europa League.
That is in complete contrast to Tottenham, who are 3nil to RB Leipzig in their last match on March 10th to exit the Uefa Champions League.
Jose Mourinho's side is out of the FA Cup and have lost further ground in the race for a top-five finish in the Premier League.
In the EPL, Spurs suffered successive losses at the hands of Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers, leaving them eighth in the table, four points behind United.
Solskjaer and Mourinho will have to be pragmatic in team selection too, given the quick turnaround in fixtures between now and the end of the season.
Not since between September 2001 and February 2007 have the Red Devils won consecutive away meetings with Spurs, something that they can achieve with three vital points on Friday.
Pogba may have spent the past couple of weeks training, but he is reportedly set to start this match on the bench as Solskjaer is unwilling to risk him from the start.
That leaves Nemanja Matic, Fred, and Scott McTominay battling for the two holding-midfield positions, assuming Solskjaer sticks with a 4-2-3-1 that has served him well of late.
McTominay certainly did his hopes of ousting Fred no harm with his goal from the bench against Man City just before the coronavirus pandemic struck.
Elsewhere, Rashford is expected to slot back into the side down the left-hand side, with Anthony Martial - on course for his best goalscoring campaign - used through the middle.
Mourinho is likely to make the most of having Kane, Son, Bergwijn, and Sissoko back available for selection, with that quartet in line to start Friday's huge match.
Kane has netted 11 goals this season and will be eyeing up the division's leading scorer Jamie Vardy over the final nine matches.
However, one big absentee for the hosts will be Dele Alli, who has been handed a one-match ban by the Football Association for improper conduct after posting an offensive video on social media relating to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mourinho has a number of central-midfield options, though, with Giovanni Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele, Sissoko, Harry Winks, and Gedson Fernandes all pushing for inclusion.
At the back, Japhet Tanganga's absence with a back injury will likely mean Spurs reverting to a four-man defense, with Ben Davies and Serge Aurier the preferred full-back options of Mourinho when available.
The most recent meeting between these sides in North London finished in a 1-0 victory for the Red Devils 17 months ago, with Rashford again proving the match-winner that day.
United are unbeaten in five Premier League games and have kept four clean sheets during that run - as many as they managed in their previous 35 top-flight outings.