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Rupert Wyman 11th Sep 2009 - 21:04

In-form Spurs can put history behind them

A tantalising fixture awaits on Saturday evening as Tottenham Hotspur face the defending champions Manchester United at White Hart Lane.

Spurs have started the season on fire as they have won all four of their Premier League matches and as a result sit in second in the Premier League table going into the weekend. Contrastingly Man Utd have made a stuttering start to the season.

Yes the champions sit in third after winning three of their four matches, but their defeat came away at Burnley and Fergie's side have hardly been convincing in victories against Birmingham and Arsenal.

Admittedly they thrashed Wigan 5-0 but for me based on recent form they are far too short in the betting at 13/10 to warrant backing them to come away from White Hart Lane with the three points. Especially considering there has to be a doubt over what line-up will be chosen ahead of United's Champions League trip to Besiktas on Tuesday.

Tottenham look good value at odds of 21/10 to continue their 100% start to the season with the draw at 23/10. However, the best bet for some extra security could be Tottenham in the draw no bet market at 29/25.

Key to Tottenham's success this season has been Aaron Lennon. The right winger looks threatening every time he gets the ball and he displayed this to great effect on international duty in midweek against Croatia when he turned in a man-of-the-match performance.

He has already scored two match-winning goals this season and he is priced at 11/2 to get on the scoresheet against the Red Devils.

Lennon is one of the few players that terrorises Man Utd's left back Patrice Evra. In last season's Carling Cup final the England man made the Frenchman look a shadow of his normal self and if Tottenham are going to have success this Saturday Lennon will have to win this duel again.

On the opposite flank a key absentee for Spurs is Croatian playmaker Luka Modric as he is missing after breaking his leg against Birmingham. His replacement is deadline-day signing Niko Kranjcar and the former Pompey player is 11/2 to score on his debut.

Many were pushing for Jermain Defoe's inclusion from the start against Croatia after the hitman scored five in three substitute appearances for the national side but Fabio Capello stuck with Emile Heskey on Wednesday. Therefore Defoe will be keen to show Capello how good he is against one of the best Premier League defences.

The prolific striker has scored four goals already this season and he can be backed at 6/1 to open the scoring and 7/4 to score at anytime within the 90 minutes.

England's number one striker, Wayne Rooney - who Defoe wants to partner from the start for the Three Lions - has also scored four goals this season. Rooney has also scored four goals in his last four league games against Spurs.

This season he appears to be revelling playing in a more central role following Ronaldo's departure and he is a 6/4 shot to score again against Spurs.

Harry Redknapp will be hoping that the international break has given Ledley King enough time to rest his fragile body as the inspirational defender will be needed against Rooney and co. When King doesn't start then Spurs always look less secure at the back and it would put a doubt in my mind regards backing them.

Rooney's strike-partner Dimitar Berbatov returns to the Lane for the second time since his big money move to Old Trafford. He scored the last goal in last season's meeting between the sides at the Theatre of Dreams when Man Utd won 5-2 and the Bulgarian is priced at 15/8 to score at the Lane.

At the opposite end of the pitch Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping that Rio Ferdinand will be fit enough to make his first league appearance of the season. Despite what many think, the basis of Man Utd's three consecutive titles was the defence, particularly the partnership of Ferdinand and Serbian rock Nemanja Vidic.

Ronaldo grabbed the headlines for his skill, goals and assists but it was the defensive solidity behind him that allowed the Portuguese flyer to play with so much freedom. Therefore the possible reunited partnership at the back will be integral to United's title hopes.

Despite Tottenham's flying start, Man Utd's fans and backers will be buoyed by the recent history between the two sides. United are unbeaten on their last eight trips to Tottenham. They recorded six wins in a row, before drawing in the last two seasons. Indeed Spurs have lost 10 Premier League games at home to Man Utd, which is a more than against any other side.

Tottenham have not won any of their last 16 league meetings with Man Utd, it is 19 in all competitions. These statistics underline how much Tottenham have struggled in recent years against Fergie's side.

However, this is a different Tottenham side under Harry Redknapp and with Wilson Palacios and Tom Huddlestone in the middle of the park they have some steel to their team to go with the attacking instincts of Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe. The form is with the home side and provided Ledley King returns to the line-up then at the prices one has to fancy a Tottenham win over an away win.



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