'Tottenham prefer teams to come at them so they can pick them off' - what Sheffield United can expect from Spurs tomorrow

After months of searching for their first victory of the season, Sheffield United go into tomorrow’s game with Tottenham Hotspur at Bramall Lane chasing a third win inside eight days.
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That’s the tantalising prospect being dangled in front of bottom club United as they prepare to welcome José Mourinho’s Spurs to the Lane after victories over Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup third round and Newcastle United in the past week.

Now they begin a daunting run of Premier League games against three of the top six sides in the coming weeks, with fixtures against both Manchester clubs to come after tomorrow afternoon’s clash with the stuttering north Londoners.

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Mourinho's side lost 3-1 at Bramall Lane towards the back end of last season, but Blades boss Chris Wilder is a self-confessed fan of the hugely successful Portuguese coach.

Spurs' Harry Kane and Sheffield United's John Egan battle for possession at Bramall Lane last season. (Photo by Jason Cairnduff/Pool via Getty Images)Spurs' Harry Kane and Sheffield United's John Egan battle for possession at Bramall Lane last season. (Photo by Jason Cairnduff/Pool via Getty Images)
Spurs' Harry Kane and Sheffield United's John Egan battle for possession at Bramall Lane last season. (Photo by Jason Cairnduff/Pool via Getty Images)

"Jose is my favourite current manager in the Premier League, I know he splits opinions but he's an incredible guy and he's a winner,” said Wilder during his pre-match press conference on Friday.

"I believe he'll have watched us because of how he goes about his business and if we play well, then who knows. We're up against a top side with some fabulous players and one of the main men in world football, who I think is the best in the business.”

So, which Tottenham will turn up in South Yorkshire?

The one which romped to a 6-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford earlier in the season or the side which laboured to a 1-1 home draw with the Blades’ relegation rivals Fulham in midweek.

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We’ve asked Alasdair Gold, football.london’s Spurs’ correspondent, to give us the lowdown on Mourinho’s men.

What have you made of Tottenham’s start to the season?

It's been mixed. The first few months brought some terrific performances with goals aplenty against the likes of Manchester United and Southampton.

Then after the 3-3 draw with West Ham, having been 3-0 up, Mourinho tightened up the side and they ground out a lot of tight results.

In more recent weeks in the Premier League, Spurs have stuttered and stumbled somewhat in front of goal - the Leeds match aside - and the football has not been great.

Who have been the stand-out performers for Spurs and their main threats?

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Harry Kane and Son Heung-min of course stand out, scoring 34 goals between them this season for Spurs and laying on 22 assists.

Elsewhere in the team Tanguy Ndombele has looked more like the player paid a record club fee for and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has added real bite and leadership to the midfield.

Sergio Reguilon has also impressed at left-back since his arrival from Real Madrid in the summer and is proving to be effective at both ends of the pitch.

What would be a 'successful' season for Tottenham - where do you expect them to finish?

It has to be top four and a trophy, otherwise the club have not pushed on from the Mauricio Pochettino era, which brought three consecutive top three finishes and a Champions League final appearance.

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Players like Kane and Son need to be showing off silverware for their efforts and they will have the chance in April for some with the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City.

Spurs also need the money the Champions League will bring after a tough season off the pitch, with their huge new cash-generating stadium rendered mostly redundant by the absence of crowds.

Jose Mourinho's record as a coach is one of the best in the game, but what do Spurs fans think of him? Happy with the progress under Jose?

Recent performances and the style of football have split the fanbase somewhat.

Those who did not want him in the first place, following his time at Chelsea, have grown louder in their criticisms.

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The football hasn't been great since those early weeks of this season, with the attacking players concentrating as much on their defending as getting forward and while that's protecting the defence it can reduce Spurs' ability to really control and dominate matches.

Ultimately though Mourinho is a winner and he has bagged trophies at every club he's managed at.

Spurs have been starved of silverware in recent decades and the club will give him the time to replicate his success in a different environment in north London.

What style of football (or system) should United expect to come up against?

Much depends on Kane and Son. If they're firing then Spurs will break quickly at pace and try to get in behind United.

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Mourinho mostly has them set up in a 4-2-3-1 system which becomes a 4-3-3 at times with Ndombele dropping back from a number 10 role.

Tottenham prefer teams to come at them so they can pick them off and if United sit back then it will force the visitors to open up a bit more.

The dropped points to Fulham in midweek - after Mourinho picked four central midfielders in the team - might see him shake up the side a bit so it will be interesting to see whether he does unshackle the attackers this weekend.

Score prediction?

Chris Wilder's men getting their first league win of the season will have buoyed them but Spurs need to show a reaction after a very disappointing display against Fulham.

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I'm going for a 2-1 win for the visitors after a hard-fought encounter.

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