It's fifth versus sixth going into this weekend's fixtures - and a meeting between two draw specialists. Michael Cox looks at the tactics, Alan Thompson focuses on the betting...
"Darmian sticks very tight to opponents, and if up against Eriksen will probably wander inside and leave lots of space for Walker to bomb into"
Manchester United v Tottenham
Live on Sky Sports 1
Match Odds: Manchester United 2.35/4, Tottenham 3.711/4, The Draw 3.55/2.
Manchester United have drawn their last three Premier League games, and while Jose Mourinho would love to record a victory here, this feels more like a match Manchester United cannot afford to lose. A defeat would leave them nine points behind Tottenham Hotspur and would represent a serious blow to their chances of reaching the top four this season.
United have arguably dominated all three of those draws, against Arsenal, West Ham and Everton, but need to convert their dominance into goals. They created little against Everton last weekend in a poor game, their goal coming primarily from a goalkeeping error (and a fine Zlatan Ibrahimovic finish). Ibrahimovic needs better service, however, and against a high Tottenham defensive line there's a danger he'll rarely get into goalscoring positions.
Mourinho is likely to welcome back Eric Bailly at the heart of his defence, probably alongside Phil Jones. Marcos Rojo was lucky not to be dismissed for a horrible tackle on Yannick Bolasie last weekend, another incident which underlines his somewhat rash style of defending. Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian should continue out wide.
Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera should be deep in midfield with Paul Pogba pushing forward from the top of the midfield trio. Anthony Martial will attack from the left with either Henrikh Mkhitarayan or Juan Mata providing creativity from the right.
Mauricio Pochettino is without Erik Lamela, but otherwise should field his first-choice XI here. Toby Alderweireld returned in midweek and should start at the back alongside Jan Vertonghen, with Danny Rose and Kyle Walker on the flanks.
The midfield should be a combination of Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele, who will push forward into attack and help Spurs get past Manchester United's midfield press. They'll have a similar balance to United out wide, with Son Heung-min going in behind and Christian Eriksen drifting inside into positions between the lines near Dele Alli. Up front, Harry Kane will probably drop off the front and encourage midfield runners forward.
The interesting aspect of this match will be how United cope with Spurs' pressing. Jones and Bailly can be somewhat nervous when pressurised on the ball around their own box, while Carrick can also struggle in high-tempo games. Herrera is important for being both a good presser and press-resistant himself, while Pogba's form has been reasonably good in recent weeks, but he still needs to take charge of more matches to justify his world record transfer fee.
The most interesting individual battle, though, will be Walker against Martial. United left-back Darmian sticks very tight to opponents, and if up against Eriksen will probably wander inside and leave lots of space for Walker to bomb into. Martial was diligent with his defensive duties at Everton last weekend but has a habit of switching off. Still, he could have room to counter-attack into speedily, and against a high Spurs defensive line, might be a greater goal threat than Ibrahimovic.
Spurs will look to get the ball forward quickly and test Manchester United's backline. Son should move inside from the left and become something of a second striker alongside Kane. In a similar manner to Martial, his runs might make him as much of a goal threat as his centre-forward.
The key statistic here is that no club in the Premier League has drawn more matches than United or Spurs this season, who have done so six times apiece. Would either manager attack aggressively if the match is evenly-balanced heading into the final 20 minutes? Probably not, and therefore a draw looks good value at 3.45.
The Betfair Trader's View - Alan Thompson
Jose Mourinho put out a strong team midweek in the Ukraine and he got his rewards, having safely navigated their way into the Europa League knockout stages. That long trip though will limit preparation time for this and already sitting six points behind Tottenham the Red Devils can’t afford another slip up.
Even though they have been knocked out of the Champions League, with back-to-back wins the mood in the Tottenham camp will have improved recently.
The pressure is all on United after drawing their last four at home and with just one win in their last eight Premier League starts (against bottom of the table Swansea City) they desperately need to start picking up wins. Spurs though have still just suffered that one defeat at Stamford Bridge and comprehensively dispatched Swansea City 5-0 last weekend.
Despite not being able to kill games off this season United have only failed to score in one of their home games and as Spurs have only failed to score at Bournemouth on their travels I don’t think Both Teams to Score at 1.9110/11 is such a bad bet.
I think we could see a few goals in this, United have proven that they can’t protect a one goal lead so even if they do take the advantage, I think they will still look for that elusive second and if Spurs get the opener then United can’t afford to lose the game and will have to attack. Last season this game only produced a single goal but five of the previous seven have gone Over 2.5 Goals.
I will be splitting my stake backing Over 2.5 goals at 2.26/5 and the aforementioned Both Teams to Score wager.