Tottenham Hotspur’s Premier League clash with Manchester United this weekend may prove to be a bit of a dead rubber. Spurs’ title bid could well be over by the time Sunday comes around, should Chelsea win at West Brom on Friday night, whereas the Red Devils’ focus is entirely on their Europa League final after seeing off Celta Vigo on Thursday.
The only factors that hint towards a genuinely competitive contest are the fact it will be the final game at White Hart Lane and the personal pride of those involved, not least including the men in both dugouts – Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino – who have locked horns many times before.
Indeed, Pochettino has only faced Manuel Pellegrini more times than the United gaffer throughout his managerial career, spanning their spells at Espanyol, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United, and will be desperate to turn around what is a largely uninspiring record against him.
Indeed, from eleven attempts, Pochettino has claimed victory over Mourinho just once – Spurs’ iconic win over Chelsea on New Year’s Day in 2015 – whilst the difference in aggregate scores is a staggering 22 goals. Accordingly, Mourinho has picked up an impressive 2.55 points per match against Pochettino, whilst the Argentine’s return is just 0.36.
But Pochettino will probably never get a better chance to reverse the tide than this weekend. It’s one of the few times he’ll face a Mourinho side in a lesser league position than his own and, as previously mentioned, the United gaffer’s focus is on continental rather than domestic matters. A weakened starting XI seems inevitable.
Nonetheless, to date – even during his catastrophic final few months at Chelsea and even amid Spurs’ title charge earlier this season – Mourinho’s had Pochettino’s number. The Argentine will need to spring some surprises at White Hart Lane on Sunday.