Tottenham host Manchester United at Wembley on Wednesday evening and it is unlikely to be an end-to-end rollercoaster of entertainment.
Jose Mourinho will have a game plan designed to frustrate Spurs, something that has routinely been implemented by the likes of Burnley, Swansea, West Brom and West Ham on League duty this season at this venue.
All of those games have ended in stalemate, as have Tottenham’s recent league and cup trips to Southampton and Newport County.
For all the progress Spurs have made under Mauricio Pochettino, they still have a disparaging tendency to struggle against a blanket defence. Their play becomes predictable and lateral, all too often proving relatively straight forward for a well organised defensive set-up to cope against.
Mourinho meanwhile continues to employ the big-game tactics that served him so well in the formative years of his managerial career, unrelenting in his approach to the job.
Early season setbacks on the road included a draw at Stoke and defeat at Huddersfield. They stifled Liverpool in a scoreless draw at Anfield, a game where the visiting side lacked the guile or drive to go and win. Mourinho’s ethos at Wembley will be to protect the second spot that United currently occupy from a perceived rival club.
The Red Devils’ 2018 winning form has been built on five successive clean sheets, enough to get them past the likes of Derby County, Stoke, Burnley and Yeovil Town lately.
Alexis Sanchez will offer the sort of maverick attacking option that ought to prove dangerous but, in a game like this, will his teammates offer enough attacking support to help? The most likely outcome is a draw, priced 47/20, while a 1-1 scoreline makes solid appeal at 23/4.
Burnley travel to Newcastle on Wednesday evening with the early season positivity somewhat eroded for Sean Dyche’s side. The Clarets are winless in eight games in all competitions, with just three points from 21 in the league.
Only their superb early form and the best defensive record outside of the top three is keeping Burnley in the top half now.
Equally miserable has been Newcastle’s form at St James’ Park where the home side have failed to win in six and have scored only once in the previous four. Given Burnley’s resilience at the back, this is likely to be a close call and the draw is worth backing at 21/10.
On a busy night of action, Stoke City can get their second success under Paul Lambert by taking care of Watford at the bet365 Stadium.
The Potters overcame Huddersfield last time out to move out of the relegation zone and their home form is going to be vital in the survival scrap.
So tight have things become in the bottom half that three points for Stoke (17th) would draw them level on points with Watford (10th). The Hornets are also under new management, with Javi Gracia going down in the FA Cup at Southampton on Saturday in his first game in English football.
An away trip to Stoke will be tough for a Watford side that has lost five in a row on the road in the league as well as that St Mary’s defeat, ensuring the home side are worth backing at 6/5.
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