Manchester United-Tottenham Hotspur Preview
By TOM BENNETT
STATS European Football Writer
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Tottenham Hotspur will be looking for their first double over Manchester United in the Premier League era when they welcome the league leaders to White Hart Lane on Sunday afternoon.
Spurs (12-4-6) ended a run of 27 games without a win against United in all competitions when they won 3-2 at Old Trafford back in September. Under a new manager and with a new-look squad after losing key players in the summer, the north London club have gone on to have a successful season to-date, and star midfielder Gareth Bale believes it was the win at Old Trafford that gave the squad the belief they needed.
"That win stood us in good stead," said Bale. "It gave us confidence and belief to do what we've done so far this season. We're all looking forward to United. It's a big test and will show where we are as a team."
League leaders Manchester United (18-1-3) will come into the game at White Hart Lane full of confidence thanks to a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League table. The Red Devils have scored a league high 56 goals this season, thanks in no small part to the feats of the division's top-scorer Robin van Persie. The summer signing has 17 league goals already, but manager Sir Alex Ferguson insists that United haven't become a one-man team.
"There was a time in our history when one man did carry us for a while," said Ferguson. "Eric Cantona kept us in contention with his goals when a few others were off the boil but things are quite different now. Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) has weighed in with 12 goals while Wayne Rooney is currently on nine. Two defenders, Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra, have chipped in with eight between them so it doesn't stand up to see us as a one-man team overly dependent on van Persie, brilliant as he has been at both making and taking goals.
"He is absolutely relishing his new challenge. He is the right player at the right club at the right time. He has a winning mentality but, as he points out, it is one that goes right through the squad and one that will hopefully see us push on in both the league and the cups and successfully navigate what is a busy and challenging period."
Spurs are without Sandro (knee) and Younes Kaboul (knee), while William Gallas is doubtful with a calf problem. Manchester United are without Ashley Young (knee), but Jonny Evans (hamstring) and Nemanja Vidic (concussion) could start if they pass late fitness tests.
Tottenham haven't done the double over United since the 1989-90 season, and that was the only time in the last 39 campaigns that they have managed the feat. However, Andre Villas-Boas' side are unbeaten in six going into Sunday's game, having kept four clean sheets in those six matches. The Lilywhites have won four of their last five at home and have conceded more than a single goal just once in their 11 games at White Hart Lane (in a 4-2 defeat to Chelsea in October).
United's tally of 55 points after 22 games is the most in the Premier League since Chelsea's 61 points in 2005-06 and is the best in the club's history. Ferguson's side are unbeaten in ten, winning nine of those. They have the best away record in the league with 25 points, and their 26 goals scored on the road is also a league high.
Updated January 18, 2013