Jose Mourinho has won all three of his matches as Tottenham manager but not in his typical style.
Mourinho has a hard-earned reputation for defensive football, but his new side have conceded twice in every match they’ve played under him so far.
That should encourage United that there are goals to be had – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have five in their last two league games – and Daniel James might get particular joy.
Tottenham’s full backs have been key
Mourinho has already transformed Tottenham’s full backs, who were a weak link under Mauricio Pochettino.
Ben Davies played a more cautious role on the left during Mourinho’s first game, but Danny Rose is in now, and he has more attacking instincts.
Meanwhile, Serge Aurier, who looked exactly the kind of liability Mourinho would hate, has been liberated and is chipping in with goals and assists already.
Rose and Aurier both struggled badly during the latter part of Pochettino’s reign, but have been reinvented under his successor, especially the latter.
Can James exploit the space left behind?
Aurier has been especially freed from as much defensive responsibility as possible, which means that it might be Marcus Rashford on the left who profits more than James.
But if the England man moves across more centrally, it might be that James is deployed out on the left flank to get in behind Aurier.
Alternatively, Rose just can’t help himself bombing on and diving into tackles, so even if James is up against the England man, he should fancy his chances of causing damage.
United have played better against the top sides under Solskjaer and a major reason for that is those matches grant them more space in which to play on the counter attack.
James is superbly placed to take full advantage of that against Mourinho’s Tottenham.
His speed and ability on the ball make him a danger man who Spurs cannot take their eye off.
He can both limit Tottenham’s desire to push their full-backs forward, and punish them if they do. This could be a match-up which really works to the Welsh winger’s advantage.
- Ethan Laird joins Manchester United training
- Should Victor Osimhen change United’s transfer plans?
- Eric Bailly has to step up and seize his chance
- Marcos Rojo is in limbo and Estudiantes’ plan does not help Manchester United
- Paul Pogba congratulates Danny Welbeck on comeback goal