Tottenham 1 Man United 3: Lessons from a crucial Red Devils win

What did we learn from Manchester United's 3-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday?

Premier League, 4 March 2012, White Hart Lane
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Tottenham
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Man United

United show why their champions

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were second best to Tottenham for large spells at White Hart Lane, but in typical United fashion, they carved out a flattering 3-1 victory to close on the gap on league leaders Manchester City back to two points. The defending champions will now relish a relatively straightforward run of fixtures over the next two months, and Sunday’s victory could prove the catalyst to propel the Red Devils to a 20th league title. Key players are hitting form – Wayne Rooney has five goals in his last three league games, David de Gea and Jonny Evans are becoming integral members of United’s solid defence, while Ashley Young’s sparkling brace will provide the winger with a timely boost. City will face difficult games against Arsenal and Chelsea, not to mention the visit of United on 30 April.

Spurs’ Livermore sparkles in midfield

Jake Livermore was impressive in midfield alongside Sandro, deputising for the suspended Scott Parker. The 22-year-old was unfazed by the prospect of facing United’s experienced duo of Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes, and the visiting pair were kept quiet by Livermore in the first half. Perhaps not the most creative, the Spurs youth team graduate, who spent spells at Ipswich Town and Leeds United last season, looks at ease in Harry Redknapp’s first team – and against the champions, too. He certainly looks a ready-made replacement for the 31-year-old Parker and emerged from the demoralising defeat with plenty of new admirers.

De Gea builds on recent performances

United’s Spanish goalkeeper produced another assured performance to show that he is settling into life in the English top flight just in time for United’s title push. The former Atletico Madrid shot-stopper parried Emmanuel Adebayor’s low effort clear in the first half – and Livermore’s superb drive was thwarted by a superb save low to his right after the break. He could do little to prevent Jermain Defoe’s 87th-minute consolation after careless defending. Anders Lindegaard’s injury has provided De Gea with a chance to establish himself as United’s undisputed first choice, and coupled with his save from Juan Mata in the dying minutes of United’s 3-3 draw at Stamford Birdge, the Spaniard appears to be brimming with confidence. This spell could prove to be the turning point in his Old Trafford career.

Tottenham lack the big-game mentality

Spurs are the most exciting side to watch in the league, particularly when at full-strength with Luka Modric orchestrating proceedings from midfield, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon surging down the wings, and Adebayor ruthless up front. Although they have beaten the majority of teams outside the top four this season, Redknapp’s side have struggled against both Manchester clubs, losing home and away to both City and United. Talk of a title challenge may have been fanciful, but the White Hart Lane outfit were in the running until a defeat at the Etihad. Since Mario Balotelli’s late winner, Spurs have slumped to two defeats in their last five games, and Redknapp needs to refocus his ailing Spurs’ side to fend off Arsenal’s late charge for third place.

Evans finding his form at Old Trafford

Evans’ career at Old Trafford is back on track following a turbulent couple of seasons. The Northern Ireland centre-half was widely tipped to take over from the ageing Rio Ferdinand when he first broke into Ferguson’s team in 2008, making seven appearances during United’s journey to the Champions League final in Rome. Evans, already 24, struggled to replicate his early form and was touted to make a premature exit a short time ago. But the defender has recovered from a shaky spell this campaign, including a dismissal in United’s 6-1 defeat by City, to contribute towards the Red Devils’ pursuit of a 20th league title. Evans, covering for the injured United skipper Nemanja Vidic, was one of United’s best performers at White Hart Lane, containing Louis Saha in an assured display.

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