Manchester United could move closer to fourth place on Sunday when they travel to Wembley Stadium.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be hosted by Tottenham Hotspur, a side prepared to give the interim boss his first real test since replacing José Mourinho.
The Reds couldn’t ask for a better start under the 1999 treble winner, winning five of his first games in charge, with the view of extending that run to six with three points over Spurs.
Only a few months ago at Old Trafford, Spurs beat United 3-0 with Mourinho in the hot seat but a lot has changed about United and the way in which we approach games since then. There’s good reason to be confident ahead of this crucial fixture.
Solskjaer has his best players expressing themselves on the pitch and enjoying their football again, but there’s one man he could call upon on Sunday who has a remarkable record against Spurs, knowing they will also have to deal with Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford all performing out of their skin under the caretaker manager.
That man is Juan Mata…
Not always fancied by his former manager, Mourinho, Mata is likely to have more opportunities in the team under Solskjaer.
However, in November, talkSPORT claimed he would leave United at the end of the season to join up with Unai Emery at Arsenal on a Bosman deal.
🇪🇸 Congratulations to @JuanMata8 on receiving Spain’s prestigious National Award for Sport!
📸: Consejo Superior de Deportes pic.twitter.com/6Fl8tnq2RF
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 10, 2019
The Spaniard has faced Spurs 10 times as a Premier League player – some of those as a Chelsea player – scoring three goals and providing four assists. There’s every reason Sunday can see him shine against Pochettino’s men again, even by feeding Rashford or Martial through balls in behind the Spurs defence.
But don’t be surprised if Solskjaer opts for Jesse Lingard on the right instead. The England international is a key figure in the Norwegian’s setup, and works efficiently on and off the ball with his movement and work rate.
Whether it’s from the bench or a starting role, Solskjaer just might need to call upon his technically gifted playmaker to unsettle London’s title contenders.