Belief in Manchester United’s resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has so far been tempered by the calibre of adversaries they’ve put away on the five-match winning run with which the Norwegian has begun his tenure.

Title-chasing Tottenham Hotspur represent the acid test, with the theory being that supposed defensive sloppiness that went unpunished by Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Reading could be exploited more ruthlessly by the Lilywhites’ enviable forward line.

But are 5/2 match betting underdogs United even defending that badly?

An evaluation of their recent clashes with the Bluebirds and the Cherries against Spurs’ showings against the same opponents inside the last three weeks should shed some light on that and other questions, as well as informing our Tottenham vs Manchester United predictions.

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Tottenham vs Man Utd predictions: clues courtesy of Cardiff City

On the surface, the clubs’ respective showings against Neil Warnock’s men offer some support to the theory that United’s defence could be their downfall.

Spurs bested the Bluebirds 3-0 in south Wales on New Year’s Day, allowing their hosts just five efforts on goal, three of which were on target, whereas the Red Devils shipped once at the Cardiff City Stadium, from a total of nine shots.

But, while Solskjaer’s side allowed near double the amount of attempts, only three of those were on target, the same amount given up by the Lilywhites.

In addition to this heartening finding, United outscored Spurs against the Welsh outfit and hit the target with a greater percentage of their shots, 52% to the Lilywhites’ 38%.

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Tottenham vs Man Utd predictions: clues from the sides’ clashes with Bournemouth

Just as with their respective clashes with Cardiff, Mauricio Pochettino’s men kept a clean sheet at home to Bournemouth where the Red Devils could not, winning 5-0 four days before the Reds bested them 4-1 at Old Trafford.

However, on this occasion Spurs exhibited the kind of luck-riding skills that hadn’t been necessary in Wales, allowing Bournemouth a massive 14 attempts on goal, with four on target and another four blocked.

United only allowed the Cherries half as many efforts, suggesting their defence is already beginning to improve under Solskjaer.

Tottenham vs Manchester United odds

Having taken a look at the teams’ relative showings against Cardiff and Bournemouth in late-December and early January, a top-line observation is that the 11/10 match-betting favourites are more likely to keep a clean sheet, bringing the 29/10-rated Spurs win to nil bet into play.

However, we’ve also learned that United’s defence hasn’t been a great deal more generous than their hosts against our two yardsticks, suggesting that if they are to lose then it may only be by the odd goal, rather than a repeat of the 3-0 defeat the Lilywhites inflicted on them in August.

A Tottenham vs Man Utd prediction for a 1-0 correct score to the hosts is trading at odds of 17/2, while a 2-1 victory for the north London side is a 15/2 pick.