Jesse Lingard wants to put on a show at Tottenham as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United look to continue their excellent recent form.
Last month’s decision to sack Jose Mourinho has brought an immediate turnaround in fortunes, style and backroom contentment.
Caretaker manager Solskjaer has emulated Sir Matt Busby’s five-match winning start to life at the helm in all competitions, although the level of opponent has yet to provide the 1999 treble hero with a genuine test.
Sunday’s Wembley clash with Tottenham is sure to be their toughest match to date, but Lingard expressed the confidence around the United squad after bonding further on a warm-weather training camp in Dubai.
“It’s going to be tough but, with the run we’ve been on at the moment and the form we’ve had, we back ourselves 100 per cent,” Lingard said.
“So, we go there with the full intention of winning and getting the three points. We’re on a great run at the moment, so to carry it on against Tottenham and to get the win would be perfect.”
It is also a chance for United to exact revenge after Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino – the favourite to takeover at Old Trafford next summer – oversaw an eye-catching 3-0 win at Old Trafford in August.
While it was Mourinho’s biggest ever home defeat as a manager, there appears to have been little lasting negative impact on those that played.
Lingard started that loss but the renewed positive emphasis under Solskjaer means entertainment is his main focus.
He told MUTV: “It’ll be exciting. Obviously, as a Man United team, we’re there to entertain and get people off their seats, so that’s what we’ll be looking to do.
“They are always exciting games (against Tottenham). They have always been entertaining so hopefully we can put on a show and put on a performance.”
Lingard will be hoping to continue his own fine form after a stop-start opening few months.
The England attacking midfielder netted four times over the last five weeks and has fond memories of Wembley, where he has scored in the FA Cup, EFL Cup and Community Shield showpieces as well as shone for his country.
“I think it’s very important,” Lingard said of his goal return.
“Obviously as an attacking player, goals, assists and winning matches are the most important things and us as forwards have been doing well at the moment.
Hopefully we can carry it on for the rest of the season.”
Paul Pogba is available for the clash against Spurs, having recovered from the leg issue that kept him out of last weekend’s FA Cup clash with Reading and missed the start of the trip to Dubai.
Marcos Rojo has returned to his native Argentina as his injury is taking longer to heal than anticipated, while Chris Smalling is a doubt and Eric Bailly completes a three-match suspension.
Provided by Press Association Sport
If Mauricio Pochettino is indeed interested in the Manchester United job he is being so heavily linked with, then Sunday’s clash with his potential future employers presents the ideal opportunity to make an impression.
The Red Devils are riding the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wave, winning all five of their games since the Norwegian took charge.
However, they face a tough test when they travel to Wembley and take on Spurs who are still in the Premier League title race.
Here’s how Pochettino can show off his tactical nous and burst United’s bubble.
RUNS BEYOND KANE
Harry Kane has played in a withdrawn role quite often this season and while his deeper average position compared to some of his team-mates seemed like irregularities early on in the campaign, it’s recently emerged as a clear strategy.
The striker dutifully drops deep, dragging a defender out of position with him and opening up channels for runners like Son Heung-min and Dele Alli to attack.
This tactical ploy also affords a normally heavily marked Kane to then ghost into the box and get on the end of crosses or cut-backs. He doesn’t have quite as many touches in the box as a result but his goal threat remains high while aiding the team’s attacking options.
ERIKSEN DROPS DEEP
Eriksen has been one of the midfield runners benefitting in the final third from Kane’s deeper role but he may have a different task on his hands against United.
The Red Devils have shown under Solskjaer that they’re keen to press the opposition’s defence and while Spurs will look to bypass that by going long to Kane, if they do so at every opportunity, they risk surrendering too much possession.
A shorter out-ball to Eriksen should the Dane drop deep and make himself available will help them maintain some control on proceedings. The midfield maestro can then act as a launching pad for a substantial chunk of their attacks with his excellent long passing.
The Frenchman’s first full season in charge at the King Power Stadium has been against a back drop of fan frustration and, according to some reports, dressing room unrest.
His position has felt under constant scrutiny amid the sense that his tenure could come to an end at any moment.
Puel polarises opinion among a divided fanbase, with ‘Puel In’ or ‘Puel Out’ hashtags on social media after almost every game.
This is despite Leicester currently being seventh in the Premier League table, which is arguably as high as they could expect to be given the size and spending power of the clubs above them.
That irks Puel, who said: “All the time there is speculation about difficulty around this club. I can speak a lot about this.
“To finish seventh during the first half of the season with all the problems we’ve had, it’s a very good performance. If people think our place is sixth, or higher, this is not the truth, it’s not possible. If seventh or eighth is bad then this is crazy.”
Stories of Puel facing the sack first emerged this season after the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford on the opening day. They surfaced again in October before his team selection against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, which Leicester lost on penalties, again tested the patience of the supporters.
Reports after that game suggested Puel needed to negotiate a tricky Christmas fixture schedule in order to save his job, and wins against Chelsea and Manchester City followed.
While that appeased the fans, Puel angered them once more last week when his team, minus Jamie Vardy who was rested, went out of the FA Cup at League Two side Newport.
“I think we need to give time to the truth, and not believe it is possible for all players to play all the games,” said Puel.
“We drew in the cup with Manchester City, one of the best teams in the world, and lost to the lottery of penalties. In the FA Cup, we played with eight players who won the title. It was an experienced team.”
Puel believes the Premier League title win of 2015/16 increased expectations beyond their limits.
“The speculation continues. I think it’s a shame because for the club to improve we need stability. One time it was exceptional and Leicester win the title. If people think that’s normality then it’s not the truth.
“There’s a difference in the possibilities for Leicester in what people dream of and what they are expecting.
“Other teams have more money, more possibilities but no speculation and they can work with calm and no problems.”