Tottenham Hotspur will look to continue their phenomenal start to life under Ange Postecoglu when they meet Premier League newcomers Sheffield United on Saturday.
Unfazed by Harry Kane’s transfer to Bayern Munich, Spurs have gone from strength to strength in the early days of Postecoglou’s regime, accruing ten points from the first four league matches (W3, D1).
Since a 2-2 draw at Brentford on the opening weekend, the Londoners have strung together three consecutive top-flight wins via an aggregate score of 9-2.
After a brace of 2-0 victories over Manchester United and Bournemouth, Tottenham picked newly-promoted Burnley apart on the eve of September’s international break, running out 5-2 victors at Turf Moor.
In contrast to our Spurs season preview, Postecoglou’s men have built a solid case for a top-four battle, deeming our predicted eighth-place finish overly pessimistic.
However, throwing United into the dreaded relegation picture has thus far proved an accurate season prediction, with Paul Heckingbottom’s side enduring an unpleasant return to the top flight.
Before an enthralling 2-2 home draw against fellow bottom-half underachievers Everton last time out, the Blades had lost their first three league matches, each via a single-goal margin.
While they could be forgiven for losing to perennial Premier League champions Manchester City, lacklustre showings against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest have cast doubt on their top-flight credentials.
Tottenham had overly relied on Kane to deliver the goods in the final third for years, but it feels like his departure has unlocked the team’s full attacking potential.
Only Brighton & Hove Albion’s league-high 12-goal tally beats Spurs’ impressive haul of 11 goals, accounting for an average of 2.75 per match, which puts them on par with Man City.
If Postecoglou’s early tenure has a downside, it could be a lack of defensive resilience, with only Bournemouth and Man Utd failing to score against Tottenham across five competitive games this term.
During United’s previous Premier League campaign, Spurs won both seasonal match-ups by a combined score of 7-1, suggesting they won’t necessarily need a clean sheet to win.
United would be wise to pay more attention to their defensive display after conceding precisely two goals in three of their four league outings this season.
Heckingbottom’s side have not dominated possession in any Premier League fixture thus far, and they will probably spend most of this clash on the back foot, highlighting composure at the back as a crucial feature.
Keeping free-scoring Tottenham at bay could be United’s best hope of upsetting the apple cart, especially considering their underwhelming scoring record in north London.
The Blades have found the net only once in their three Premier League away games against Spurs in the 21st century (D1, L2), while their last visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium yielded a 4-0 defeat.
Bryan Gil, Rodrigo Bentancur, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon are still unavailable for selection in the Tottenham camp, but again, they were also out before the international break.
As for United, Rhian Brewster, Max Lowe, John Fleck, Rhys Llewelyn Norrington-Davies, Daniel Jebbison and Ben Osborn will skip this trip due to injuries.
Tottenham Hotspur potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Guglielmo Vicario; Destiny Udogie, Micky van de Ven, Christian Romero, Emerson Royal; Yves Bissouma, Oliver Skipp; Heung-min Son, James Maddison, Dejan Kulusevski; Richarlison.
Sheffield United potential starting line-up:
(3-4-2-1): Wes Foderingham; Jack Robinson, John Egan, Anel Ahmedhodzic; George Baldock, Oliver Norwood, Vinicius Souza, Yasser Larouci; Gustavo Hamer, Benie Traore; William Osula.
We Say: Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Sheffield United
Tottenham’s new-found scoring prowess may prove too hot to handle for United’s porous backline, provided the international break hasn’t taken the wind out of their sails.
Postecoglou’s men are firing on all cylinders, and we can envisage another rampant showing from the home side.
The Blades are struggling to adapt to the high intensity imposed by perennial Premier League tenants, and this doesn’t look like a task they can handle.
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