Belfast Telegraph

Key talking points as Manchester United prepare to host Tottenham

Both teams have early-season issues.

Manchester United host Tottenham in the Premier League on Monday night, a clash between the clubs who finished second and third respectively in the table last season.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at some key talking points ahead of the Old Trafford contest.

An unhappy United camp?

There has been plenty of talk in the build-up to this game about there being unrest at United. Much has been spoken about boss Jose Mourinho’s relationship with Paul Pogba, and the manager, who has made clear his frustration about how the club fared in the transfer window over the summer, on Friday denied there was any rift with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Beaten 3-2 at Brighton last weekend, the Red Devils appear in need of a considerable boost, and this home game against a major rival could provide it – or have the opposite effect, should Mourinho’s side struggle.

Dodgy defending

While Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant were recruited, the main thing Mourinho wanted and did not get over the summer was a new centre-half, and the failure to strengthen in that area seemed to haunt United at the Amex Stadium as their shoddy play at the back was punished. Mourinho on Friday refused to talk about the centre-back pairing of Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly – both players he has signed – and it will certainly be interesting to see how things pan out for United defensively on Monday as they face the threat posed by Tottenham.

Kane’s August hoodoo over

That is, of course, set to involve trying to contain Spurs striker Harry Kane, who goes into the match having scored 30 goals in the top flight last term, six for England at the World Cup and, in last weekend’s 3-1 win over Fulham, his first one of this season – which was also his first ever August league goal. He will be looking to build on that and make the difference at Old Trafford, as will United and Belgium counterpart Romelu Lukaku after he also registered his first goal of 2018-19 last weekend.

Pochettino looking to halt his unwanted run

For Tottenham – who beat Fulham at Wembley having opened their season with a 2-1 win at Newcastle – avoiding defeat or even just scoring a goal on Monday will see them break new ground under boss Mauricio Pochettino. Since the Argentinian took charge at the club in 2014, their four away games against United have ended in one 3-0 and three 1-0 defeats. They had won on each of their previous two visits to Old Trafford.

Will Lloris play?

There is doubt over whether Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris will be involved, after it emerged on Friday that the France international, who won the World Cup alongside Pogba over the summer, had been charged with drink driving and will appear in court next month. Lloris, who has apologised “wholeheartedly”, missed training that day and was set to be subject to internal procedures, which could see him dropped or even stripped of the club captaincy.

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