LONDON — Tottenham beat Manchester United 2-0 on Wednesday as Spurs closed the gap on the top four and second-place United with a dominant display.
A goal from Christian Eriksen (after just 11 seconds) and a Phil Jones own goal put Spurs ahead and they never looked back against Jose Mourinho’s shell-shocked unit who never got going in front of a record crowd for a Premier League game at 81,798.
Here’s what we learned from a raucous Wembley Stadium.
UNITED PUNISHED FOR POSITIVITY
When the teamsheets came out, United had been a lot bolder than they usually were under Jose Mourinho away from home against a top six rival.
It cost them dear.
With Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku all in the same starting lineup, this was perhaps a glimpse at a new attack-minded era since Sanchez’s arrival. It was, at times, embarrassing, for United.
They didn’t have balance in central midfield with Pogba pulled all over the place and Nemanja Matic overwhelmed, and that in turn starved United’s attackers of the surface they craved.
It was a bold move from Mourinho to go all-out attack from the start and it backfired massively. We all wondered what Sanchez’s arrival meant and where he would slot in, but the Red Devils looked completely top heavy.
TOTTENHAM’S TOP FOUR HOPES BACK ON TRACK
After a draw at Southampton last time out in the Premier League, then a draw at fourth-tier Newport in the FA Cup at the weekend, Mauricio Pochettino‘s men weren’t exactly in their best form heading into this game.
They delivered a stunning display, full of endeavor and passion as they first bullied United out of the game, then created chance after chance on the counter.
The one criticism you could have of Spurs is that they weren’t clinical enough, but then again, they didn’t need to be and never looked in danger against a lackluster United.
In front of a record crowd for a Premier League of 81,798, Spurs fans reveled in victory as they moved two points away from the top four on a night which also saw Chelsea thumped 3-0 at home to Bournemouth.
Spurs face Liverpool, Arsenal and Juventus coming up in a huge month in February and this win will set the tone for a pivotal stretch perfectly.
With Lucas Moura arriving on Deadline Day from PSG an introduced at half time of this win, Arsenal six points behind them after their defeat at Swansea and three of the current top four far from solid, Spurs have momentum and will be feeling good heading into the final third of the season and still in the UEFA Champions League.
The boos, predictably, rang out every time Alexis Sanchez touched the ball.
Making his Premier League debut for Man United after his move from Arsenal, Sanchez was shackled expertly by Spurs defense with Kieran Trippier snapping into tackles, Jan Vertonghen matching his pace and Eric Dier covering the space inside United’s left flank expertly.
Sanchez didn’t have a sniff all night long as Mourinho pushed him into the middle from the left to try and get him involved in the game. It didn’t happen. Apart from a few counter attacks in the first half, United weren’t awarded for their attacking lineup and Sanchez was given rough treatment but the fans and Spurs’ players all night long.
This was not a fine display from the Chilean on his PL debut for United and it underlined that he’s lackluster form for Arsenal for much of this season is still there.