Lukaku or Kane? Mourinho or Pochettino? Graeme Souness previews Man Utd v Tottenham
With United and Spurs are locked on 20 points, and sat second and third in the league respectively, both sides have the chance to bridge the gap to leaders Manchester City with a victory.
The game throws up a number of interesting contests, with this season’s in-form strikers – Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane – going head to head on the pitch, while Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino do battle off it.
Lukaku versus Kane
Lukaku is a No 9 I wouldn’t like to play against. He’s quicker than you, can outmuscle you and he’s a big powerful man capable of scoring all sorts of goal. I think Lukaku is the better No 9 because he’ll go up and play against the centre halves and be happy to do that, whereas Kane drifts around a bit more and plays in areas that are difficult to pick up. Lukaku has been asked to occupy the centre-backs and stretch the game, and is the more out-and-out No 9.
Pochettino has the one outstanding English player at the moment. He scores goals for fun, 17 in 16 games to be exact. You dream about getting a managerial job and having Kane come through. He’s a player that keeps you in the job because you don’t have to play fantastic football at all times with him in your team.
Rom record will get better
Lukaku’s record against the big six will change, I’m certain of that. He is now playing in a team that will dominate the ball in most games but, in the big games, the manager wants to play a certain way which means he is feeding on scraps.
Nowhere was this more evident than in United’s goalless draw at Liverpool, where he was trying to bring down clearances rather than intended passes forward. Regardless, I think he is a star and will only get better with time. He’s a big, powerful man and I certainly wouldn’t want to wrestle with him for the ball.
Kane to break duck?
Kane has failed to score at just two Premier League grounds – Turf Moor and Old Trafford. However, in the grand scheme of things, that means very little because he’s scored everywhere else!
These kind of statistics throw themselves up occasionally but it’s just a coincidence, Kane will end up scoring at every Premier League ground in the country. It is only a matter of time, you can put your house on it.
Shearer in sight?
I’d go as far as saying Kane has a chance to beat Alan Shearer’s Premier League scoring record if he stays in English football for the rest of his career. What Shearer did was ridiculous and, for me, he is the best No 9 England has ever had. I don’t see anyone coming near him but if Kane stays in England he can challenge Shearer, that’s for sure.
Mourinho versus Mauricio
It will be interesting to see what tactics Jose employs, and which team comes out on top. We know what Tottenham will do regardless of whether they play three at the back or a back four. Spurs will try and get on the front foot and stay there, while United will try to pick them off.
Spurs don’t want to play too high up the field against United though, because their pace with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial could hurt them. I can see Tottenham going there and having most of the ball but a United, smarting from their defeat at Huddersfield, will be very dangerous.
Time for a trophy?
In terms of success this season, both managers need trophies. Having won the League Cup and Europa League last season, Jose Mourinho cannot settle for finishing in the top four this season.
The trophies, meanwhile, have to come sooner rather than later for Pochettino. He is doing a fantastic job there, all the players seem happy. With a fair win and an even amount of luck, he will win a trophy.