The honeymoon is over! Now comes a series of fixtures against the likes of United, Wolves and Chelsea which will go a long way to defining whether Spurs can keep up the early momentum sustained under Mourinho. Will Spurs fans be decorating their trees and stirring their puddings with a sense of festive joy or will this Christmas period return us to our previous state of bah humbug? ![Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 07.19.21.png](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmWS6EXDsrHWxQL9WQteYgfEyrqBXaE8UEaTBz5rhxGHM1/Screen%20Shot%202019-12-04%20at%2007.19.21.png) [source](https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2659948-hull-city-vs-manchester-united-jose-mourinhos-key-pre-match-presser-quotes) Here are 3 key areas for Spurs to conquer in order to win at Old Trafford ## Get a fast start This would be in contrast to the way we have come out and played against Bournemouth and Olympiacos last week where we were decidedly sluggish in the early exchanges. It cost us a 2 goal deficit against the Greeks and Bournemouth threatened more than just a little bit during the opening exchanges on Saturday. It may seem obvious that any side would want a fast start in a match but there are a couple of reasons why one is crucial in this game. ![EBxJdLgX4AA7ROU.jpeg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmeGeJ3p7fvEMik38m54UBtpPdsJhnHkutQoMyUFReLeS4/EBxJdLgX4AA7ROU.jpeg) *Despite their poor returns over the last few years, United have still never lost a Premier League game at Old Trafford in which they have led at half-time suggesting Spurs must get their noses in front early on* Firstly, there is already plenty of unrest among the home fans as Solksjaer's team struggles to impress and a loss against a 'Big 6' rivals at home would only heighten the sense that the manager is living on borrowed time. Playing at home can be a fantastic advantage when the fans are behind you (I can only imagine that Liverpool feel 10 feet tall when they walk out at Anfield now) but of course if Spurs can get into this United team early on then things might start to turn a bit ugly and a few of these young United players might start looking for places on the pitch to hide. For Solksjaer this could turn out to be the perfect storm with the return of Mourinho, the man who he replaced come back to haunt his former squad, while simultaneously the sacking by Spurs of Poch has put a managerial candidate on the market that United have been interested in for some time. The United board has stated that they are backing their man but to say that modern football fans, players and administrators are fickle would be an understatement as Solksjaer is no doubt aware. ![Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 05.49.03.png](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmetVpEpNvgcfKn5mujNv8nNbNkJ5xb6pdVVwgMzevgqc4/Screen%20Shot%202019-12-04%20at%2005.49.03.png) *Premier League table if matches finished at half-time* [source](https://www.soccerstats.com/halftime.asp?league=england) That being said the squad that Solksjaer has do seem to have some fight in them as their comebacks against Sheffield United and Aston Villa suggest. Furthermore, they have generally started matches well this season to the extent that if games finished at half-time, United would find themselves 4th in the league, 6 places and 8 points better off than their actual standing. Spurs must hit the ground running in this game or they can kiss any chance of winning goodbye. ## Balance of the team down the left-flank Much of the early pressure that Bournemouth exerted came about as a result of their play down their right (our left). The Cherries right-winger Groenevald gave Jan Vertonghen a tough afternoon with his pace and trickery and this is an area of the pitch that Spurs will need to secure far more effectively this evening if they are to come away with a victory. ![Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 07.06.56.png](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmWHAtUR3CMRdY4tyCPBFHYxWvyR1wTnu44vELaPjZ6YD5/Screen%20Shot%202019-12-04%20at%2007.06.56.png) *Average position v Bournemouth. Vertonghen (number 5) is tucked in as a 3rd CB* [source](www.whoscored.com) It was noticeable in both Premier League games that Jose has been in charge that Spurs shape with the ball sees them adopt a back 3 with Aurier bombing on down the right to support either Moura or Sissoko and Son, Alli and Kane playing neat little triangle from the left. What it does do is leave us a little exposed in that left-back position with Vertonghen in particular not having the recovery speed if a ball is played into space and he is left one on one. United have plenty of pace in their attacking line and so this will undoubtedly be an area they seek to exploit. Throughout his career Mourinho has consistently shown that he is a pragmatist when such situations arise so it will be fascinating to see how he plays this one. Will he sacrifice Spurs attacking threat that has seen us score 10 goals in 3 games under his management or will he go gung-ho for the win? The other option that Spurs could adopt would be a 5-3-2 formation with 2 wing-backs and 2 holding midfielders allowing Alli to join the front 2 of Son and Kane. ## Make our quality count in midfield It's perhaps not much of a surprise that United haven't won a game since the injury of Scott McTominay who has been one of the standout players for the Red Devils this season. With Paul Pogba still out injured, United have had to turn to the much-maligned Fred and young Perreira to play in those key central midfield positions with neither looking like they have the quality to pull this United team up the league. Jack Grealish frightened the life out of them every time he picked up the ball and ran with it and in Dele Alli, Son and Ndombele Spurs have 3 players who are more than happy to front-up their man and look to take it past them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z1_kKfUnqc&feature=emb_title *Villa played with a similar shape to Spurs at Old Trafford with Grealish drifting in from the left and troubling United's defence* In Alli Spurs also have a player who is particularly adept at playing "in-between the lines" and given his stellar form at present it seems likely that the more we can get him on the ball in those positions the more likely we are to cause this underwhelming United midfield problems. At the same time, our defensive midfielder, Eric Dier looks woefully short of form and fitness. His complete lack of pace means he is struggling to get around the pitch and shield areas where threats might develop while simultaneously his distribution from that deep-lying area was very poor against Bournemouth. Given that in recent weeks both sides have been better going forward than they have in defence this is perhaps a game where fortune will favour the brave. I'm hoping for a Christmas cracker with Spurs coming out on top!