Don't get carried away with United, says Paul Parker
TOTTENHAM v MAN UNITED
(Tonight, 8pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 102 and StarHub TV Ch 227)
Everyone seems to be getting carried away with Manchester United.
A tally of seven wins from eight matches is a mark of improvement, no doubt there.
But already, fans and critics are hailing Louis van Gaal a genius for rejuvenating players like Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini.
Young has done okay at left wing back, but let's face it - his decent performances have come against average sides in the Premiership.
For that matter, the teams in the league, aside from Chelsea and Manchester City, are not as strong as they used to be.
If United are playing Young at left back and winning games, then you have to say the Premiership isn't a very strong league.
When the Red Devils play the big boys like Chelsea, and Young goes up against Eden Hazard or Willian down the wing, he will be found out.
The same applies to Phil Jones, who against Newcastle on Friday was once again careless and naive in his defending, which led to the goal conceded.
So, yes, United are winning games - but, performance-wise, it's another story.
They are not at all close to the United of old. Attack-wise, sure, but the team's defence is reminiscent of the side that got relegated in 1974.
Great sides are built from the back (spoken like a true former defender, I know), and Chelsea are a big testament to that.
United simply can't keep clean sheets and the back four are two quality players short of being complete.
There is no one in the centre of defence you can trust or is commanding enough for how van Gaal wants to play. They all seem to panic when they haven't got someone to mark.
Marcos Rojo could perhaps play there, but he would still need a leader next to him.
Fans might be paying credit to van Gaal a tad too soon.
The one thing he has done successfully is bring in the big names. David Moyes, with all the money at his disposal, couldn't do that.
The Dutchman has not simply rejuvenated Wayne Rooney or Juan Mata - he simply has brought in better players for them to work with; players like Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria.
That, at least, has returned the fear factor to United. Opposing teams are once again nervous to play and attack them now because they know United can score goals.
Hopefully, the club get back into the Champions League and that will allow van Gaal to bring a few top players to galvanise the defence.
Looking ahead to their visit to White Hart Lane tonight, I'm forecasting goals at both ends.
Tottenham have regressed from last season and they haven't beaten anyone comfortably in a long time; always just sneaking by.
Like United, Spurs are struggling at the back, but they also have quality up front. Harry Kane's been one of the players of the season and he is going to fancy himself to score against United in his first match against them.
Can United stop him? Or can Tottenham, who have not had a regular back four all season, stop Rooney and Falcao?
The answer to both questions is "No", and this game smells of goals.
The two goalkeepers will be kept busy, and I reckon United will outscore their opponents.
- Paul Parker is an ex-England and Man United defender who won two EPL titles and earned 19 caps for his country. He is now a football pundit with Fox Sports.
There is still a long way to go, we know that. So anything can still happen, especially in the next week or two, there are a lot of games, and if we can come out of these games with the right results then we’ll be in a good position.
— Wayne Rooney on Man United’s title chances
Lloris okay to face United tonight
RELIEF: Hugo Lloris suffered a cut in his mouth after collision in the win over Leicester on Friday. - PHOTO: AFP
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino eased fears over Hugo Lloris' fitness by confirming the France goalkeeper was unharmed after a collision with Leicester striker Jamie Vardy.
Lloris will be fit for tonight's home match against Manchester United despite going down in an incident that brought back memories of the moment he was knocked out against Everton 13 months ago.
That is a massive boost for Pochettino as Lloris' performance helped Tottenham win 2-1 at bottom-of-the-table Leicester on Friday despite being outplayed for long periods.
"He has only a cut inside his mouth. It was not like last time when he was unconscious at Everton," Pochettino said.
"He will not need clearance to play against Manchester United. This was nothing like before.
"From my position it was difficult to see the incident. But it is not serious and he will play. He is very brave."
Tottenham's win may have been scrappy but it ensured they kept in touch with fourth-placed Southampton in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
"I am very happy," said Pochettino after goals from Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen sealed a third straight league win.
"I thought we managed the game well. I think Leicester played very well in the second half but always in football you need a bit of luck.
"I am happy for them and I am happy for the team. It was a very good result.
"The reason they both keep scoring is they always try to get into scoring positions and they have the desire to score.
"It is not one of those things - they train hard for this. They both keep wanting to score.
"Christian has a free role. I think he is a player you need to give confidence."
Kane put Tottenham ahead with just 59 seconds on the clock from Nacer Chadli's cross, but Lloris was in inspired form after that with spectacular saves to deny Leonardo Ulloa, Jeffrey Schlupp and Riyad Mahrez.
Ulloa levelled from Mahrez's cross three minutes after half-time, but Tottenham scored the winner as Eriksen's 71st-minute free-kick beat Ben Hamer at the near post.
Lloris made fine late stops to foil Schlupp and Wes Morgan as Tottenham held on for a victory that left Leicester manager Nigel Pearson frustrated after 12 games without a win.
"We're still not getting the results," he said ahead of tonight's trip to his former club Hull City.
"That in a way is even more frustrating. We were by far the better side in the second half but were not able to make the most of our advantage.
"I'm not sticking my head in the sand and trying to paint a more positive picture - we're in trouble - but the performances suggest we have the capability of turning things around." - AFP.