Scott McTominay said it was "a total injustice" that Edinson Cavani had a first-half strike disallowed in Manchester United's dramatic 3-1 win over Tottenham.

Uruguay international Cavani thought he had put the Red Devils ahead in the 33rd minute, but the strike was ruled out for McTominay flicking out a hand at Son Heung-min.

The decision was reached after referee Chris Kavanagh was encouraged to review the build-up on the pitchside monitor by VAR.

United's dismay was exacerbated shortly after when Son put Tottenham ahead after some poor defending by Victor Lindelof.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side bounced back in the second half, though, courtesy of goals from Fred, Cavani and Mason Greenwood, to extend their unbeaten away run in the Premier League to 23 games – a run only bettered by Arsenal between April 2003 and September 2004 (27 games).

McTominay claimed the referee "obviously made a mistake", but he acknowledged players will have to get used to that with VAR now an integral part of the game.

"I'm sure there'll be a lot of talk about that," McTominay told Sky Sports.

"The referees have to make decisions, that's part and parcel of the game. I'm personally not a fan of VAR but it's part of the game we're playing now.

"For us it was a case of keeping calm. It was obviously a goal, the referee has obviously made a mistake, but it happens, everyone makes mistakes in life, that's part and parcel of it. Nothing bad to say.

"For us, it was a total injustice, but you've got to get on with the game, can't let that dampen the way we were playing towards the end of the first half."

The win means United have gained 28 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season.

In the competition's history, only Newcastle United in 2001-02 (34) and United themselves in 2012-13 (29) have earned more points from such positions.

While McTominay was pleased with the Red Devils' ability to bounce back, he knows they need to start games on the front foot more regularly.

"We have to start getting better in the first 30 minutes," he said.

"For us, our standards were not good enough and after that we played much much better, had more control and dominated the whole second half. A brilliant win and nothing but positives in the second half."

"Game's gone."

In the English-speaking football world, there are few better means to share your deepest frustrations than those two-and-a-bit words. Defending, diving, transfer fees, haircuts – there is not a pet peeve in the modern game that can escape that withering proclamation, even if nobody knows how far away 'gone' really is.

Still, nothing triggers the 'game's gone' gag reflex quite like VAR. That may prove to be the system's defining contribution: the rallying point for fans and professionals determined to bring football 'back' from this sanitised circus, where the clowns clean up the stalls mid-show while the ringmaster reminds the kids to keep fun to a minimum.

By half-time of Sunday's Premier League game between Tottenham and Manchester United, "game's gone" was cried, broadcast and tweeted with the gusto and impact you might expect. It wasn't really necessary, of course. We know the game is 'gone'. VAR has been pushing it 'gone' for months. It's a long, long way 'gone'. In fact, since it's practically a sitcom anyway: the game is so far gone that you can't even see the game. The game is a dot to you!

Edinson Cavani presumably felt like that. The Manchester United striker, already weighing up whether another season in England is worthwhile, saw his first league goal since February 6 disallowed for a foul by Scott McTominay on Son Heung-min in the build-up. Son tried and failed to grab McTominay's shirt, and the United midfielder caught him in the face with a flailing finger. Several replays in Stockley Park and on the sideline at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium convinced referee Chris Kavanagh that the contact was severe enough to merit disallowing the goal, but not to show McTominay what would have been a second yellow card. Five minutes later, Son made it 1-0 to the home side.

Predictable incandescence followed. "I'm amazed, really. If this is a foul, we should all go home. It's really bizarre," said former United captain Roy Keane on Sky Sports. Ex-Manchester City defender Micah Richards said football was beyond recognition, adding: "It's embarrassing. This is not football anymore. I know we have a laugh and joke, but it's spoiling our game."

Perhaps Jose Mourinho said it best: "I don't understand anything anymore." As for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, ever the populist: "The game is absolutely gone."

Rio Ferdinand added his fury to the frothing vitriol of social media. "Scrap VAR... an absolute shambles! The fella at Burnley volleyed Longstaff in the face earlier and wasn't a foul... now this! My tv is moments away from being on the patio in 100 pieces," the former United centre-back tweeted.

Ferdinand was comparing the Son incident to one in Newcastle United's earlier win at Burnley, when James Tarkowski was not penalised by VAR for kicking Sean Longstaff in the face while trying to clear from his own box. The message seemed to be that McTominay's errant pinkie was the more egregious, "unnatural" movement. The half-and-half screenshot memes bellowed their disapproval.

The point of retelling this story, at the end of a gripping game where United once more fought back to win away from home, is that that is what VAR is: the story. Everything else in football matches is a subplot. Spectators, who are still confined to watching at home, tune in expecting not the first goal, but the first visit to the pitchside monitor. 'The game' is played out on TV screens, in houses and stadia alike.

So what that Cavani recovered to force Fred's equaliser and then put United ahead? Who cares that Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba, lightning rods for Mourinho jibes in his United days, were standout performers? What does it matter that Spurs are now six points behind the top four and United are getting closer to Manchester City? The game's all the way over there!

Edinson Cavani shrugged off first-half VAR disbelief to head the winner as Manchester United stretched their unbeaten Premier League away run to 23 games with a 3-1 victory over Tottenham.

Spurs went ahead five minutes before half-time when Son Heung-min slotted home, just moments after Cavani's strike had been ruled out for a soft-looking foul by Scott McTominay on Tottenham's South Korean forward.

United were raging about the decision, but they bounced back in style in the second period with goals from Fred, Cavani and Mason Greenwood. 

The result moved second-placed United seven points ahead of Leicester City, who sit third, while Spurs remained in seventh, six points away from a Champions League qualification spot.

Harry Kane will only leave Tottenham if Daniel Levy is offered "a king's ransom" for the England captain, according to former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp.

Kane has three years remaining on his contract, but last month revealed he plans to make a decision on his future after Euro 2020.

Manchester City and Manchester United are among the clubs to have been linked with the prolific striker.

Redknapp, who handed Kane his Spurs debut in 2011, expects him to stay put as it would take a massive fee to prise the 27-year-old away from his boyhood club.

"Daniel [Spurs chairman Levy] drives the hardest bargain in the world and unless he gets what he wants and a deal that suits Tottenham then he won't go," Redknapp told talkSPORT.

"He's going to demand a king's ransom and give him the money for whoever he wants to buy and rebuild the team.

"Unless he gets that then Harry won't be going anywhere."

Kane has scored 29 goals and provided 16 assists in all competitions for Spurs, who face a huge clash with United on Sunday in their battle to qualify for the Champions League, this season.

What does the future hold for Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo?

Mbappe has been heavily linked with Real Madrid, while Ronaldo's future at Juventus is far from certain.

A possible switch to the Spanish capital could reportedly impact Ronaldo.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OUT, RONALDO IN AT PSG?

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo could join Paris Saint-Germain if Kylian Mbappe leaves for Real Madrid, according to Tuttosport.

Mbappe has long been tipped to swap Ligue 1 holders PSG for LaLiga champions Madrid, who have been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku.

If Mbappe makes the move to the Santiago Bernabeu, it could send Ronald to Paris as Juve look to reduce their wage bill in Turin.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Athletic reports Harry Kane will ask to leave Tottenham if they do not qualify for next season's Champions League. The Spurs star has been linked with Manchester United, Manchester City and Madrid.

Barcelona are eyeing Tottenham defender Davinson Sanchez, claims Mundo Deportivo. The LaLiga giants are not rumoured to be interested in Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng, who is set to depart Bavaria at season's end.

- The Mirror says Liverpool are interested in signing Barca star Pedri, who reportedly has a release clause around £70million (€81m).

United have been warned West Ham will not accept an offer to include Jesse Lingard as part of a deal to prise Declan Rice to Old Trafford, claims The Sun. United are also keen to bring back Sam Johnstone from West Brom if David de Gea or Dean Henderson leave.

- Bild says Liverpool are entering the final stages of a deal for RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. Premier League rivals United have also been linked.

Manchester United's goalkeeper situation remains unclear beyond this season.

David de Gea has been linked with the Old Trafford exit door while Dean Henderson is yet to fully convince some observers he is a worthy number one.

Thus speculation is mounting about a Red Devils move for a new shot-stopper.

 

TOP STORY - UNITED CIRCLE FOR OBLAK

Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak is reportedly wanted by Manchester United who are said to have a long-standing interest in the Slovenian.

Oblak has spent almost seven years in the Spanish capital but is ready to move to England, according to 90min.

The report claims United have doubts about Henderson as number one and subsequently are exploring their options with 28-year-old Oblak.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus and Paulo Dybala will enter negotiations on a new deal in May, reports Tuttosport.

- 90min reports that Liverpool want to utilise their option to sign Ozan Kabak permanently, having acquired the defender on loan from Schalke in February.

- Calciomercato claims that Barcelona are plotting a move for Juventus defender Cristian Romero who is currently on loan at Atalanta.

- Galatasaray have offered Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt a three-year deal, according to Sky Sports.

- Tottenham are top in the race to sign West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, claims ESPN.

Jose Mourinho claims Manchester United "big boss" Alex Ferguson would dismiss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's theory that cup trophies can be "an ego thing" for managers.

In almost two and a half years at the Old Trafford helm, Solskjaer has yet to deliver silverware for the club, and he says the team should be judged by their league progress.

United sit second in the Premier League table, which suggests there has been achievement on that front, and they remain in the hunt in the Europa League.

The latter is a tournament that Mourinho won with United, and he also landed an EFL Cup triumph to make it a double in the 2016-17 season.

United lost only five times in the Premier League in that campaign but a league-high 15 draws meant they could only finish sixth, yet in the following campaign they were runners-up to Manchester City.

Mourinho's United career began to unravel, but he left knowing he had helped to replenish the trophy cabinet, and he disagrees with Solskjaer that such moments can be ego-stroking moments for managers and clubs.

"It's his opinion. I'm pretty sure that his big boss Sir Alex has a different opinion about it," Mourinho said, speaking ahead of his Tottenham side's clash with United on Sunday.

"But I respect what Solskjaer thinks. I think different. Freedom of thinking, freedom of ideas, and if that's the way he thinks that's fine for me.

"It's not being disrespectful for anyone. But I believe his big boss and the biggest of Premier League history has a different view in relation to that."

Ferguson's first United trophy was the FA Cup in 1990, which led to a European Cup Winners' Cup the following year, and in 1991-92 his team added a League Cup success.

It was the beginning of an era where United harvested trophies season by season, moving on to the Premier League and peaking at the end of the decade with their most famous Champions League triumph, Solskjaer famously scoring a stoppage-time winner against Bayern Munich.

It was an empire that was built on a foundation of cup success, with that essentially being United's entry level to the most dominant period in their history.

Mourinho and Tottenham had their tails up in October as the visitors rampaged to a 6-1 win at Old Trafford, but they have since slid from title contention to their current sixth place.

They have an EFL Cup final against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City coming up on April 25, however, which could see Spurs secure their first major trophy since 2008, when they won the same competition.

Needing a strong run-in to barge into the top four, it would be hugely helpful to Spurs this weekend if they could end United's 22-match unbeaten away record (W14 D8) in the Premier League and complete a first league double over the Red Devils since the 1989-90 season.

Should they achieve that feat, Mourinho would be the first former United manager since Dave Sexton in 1981-82 with Coventry City to manage such a double.

United will inevitably be wary of the threat posed by Tottenham's Harry Kane, who scored a double in the Old Trafford game and is one goal short of hitting 20 in a Premier League season for the fifth time.

Kane would be just the fourth player in the Premier League era to achieve this feat after Alan Shearer (7 times), Sergio Aguero (6) and Thierry Henry (5).

If anyone gives Tottenham value for money, it must be Kane.

Mourinho spoke about the financial muscle of Manchester City, who rewarded Kevin De Bruyne with a bumper new contract this week, reportedly worth over £16million per season.

The Spurs boss has no problem with De Bruyne doing so well out of his City career, and only wishes he could pay Tottenham's biggest stars such money.

"Good for him. He deserves it, he's a fantastic player," Mourinho said.

"If Pep [Guardiola] or any coach of the top teams has X millions to spend, good for them. No problem. I enjoy to work in my club, I enjoy to do what I'm doing, and I'm not jealous of the ones that can do other things. I would love my players to get the same contract as David de Gea or Kevin De Bruyne."

Jose Mourinho and Gary Lineker led tributes from the football world to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, after his death at the age of 99 was announced.

Tottenham boss Mourinho broke off from answering football questions in a pre-match news conference, saying the loss of the husband of Queen Elizabeth II would be felt far beyond British shores.

The Portuguese head coach said: "I’m sorry, I will answer your question. I just read some sad news about Prince Philip. I would like to express my condolences to the Royal Family and to be very honest, and say I have deep, deep, deep, the utmost respect for the Royal Family.

"I believe that it is not just this country that is going to be sharing these feelings, because I'm not English and I know that many like myself will have the utmost respect."

Mourinho, who has spent much of his coaching career in England, added: "I feel sad for the departure of Prince Philip on a personal basis, because I have only positive feelings for the meaning of the family. I feel very sorry. But unfortunately his life ends and we have to keep going."

Former England striker Lineker, now a renowned broadcaster, wrote on Twitter: "Sorry to hear that Prince Philip has passed away. Served this country over many, many decades. Sincerest condolences to Her Majesty, The Queen and The Royal Family. RIP Prince Philip."

The Premier League said it was "deeply saddened" by the news, adding: "As a mark of respect, players will wear black armbands and there will be a minute's silence before kick-off at all Premier League matches played tonight and across the weekend."

The Football Association, which the duke served as president from 1955 to 1957, said it felt "Immense sadness".

The FA asked royal and government authorities whether football should be allowed to continue this weekend and was given the green light.

"Following the sad passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the FA has sought guidance from the Royal Household and Her Majesty's Government," the FA said. "We can confirm all football fixtures this evening and over the weekend (10-11 April) can continue at the discretion of competition organisers.

"The FA will be recommending that black armbands are worn and a minute's silence is observed before matches are played, including tonight's England women's international fixture in France. As a mark of respect, all flags at Wembley Stadium and St George's Park will fly at half-mast and the Wembley arch will also be lit."

Organisers of Saturday's Grand National said the race would go ahead at Aintree, preceded by a two-minute silence on the course, with "jockeys invited to wear black armbands".

Wimbledon, London's tennis grand slam, said it wished to "convey our deepest sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen and The Royal Family".

Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan and former captain of his country's cricket team, wrote on Twitter: "My condolences on the demise of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Britain has lost a wise elder who was imbued with a unique spirit of public service. His role in promoting Pakistan-UK relations will always be remembered."

Prince Philip was a two-time former president of the MCC and a noted cricket enthusiast, playing what was described as an "instrumental" role in introducing trophies for winners of the County Championship.

Ian Watmore, chair of the England and Wales Cricket Board, said: "I'm sure I speak for the entire cricket family when I say how sad I am to hear of the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh.

"His passion for the game we all love was well known and the trophies presented to the men's and women's county champions are a tribute to his dedication to our sport. We owe him a great debt for his support and passion over many decades."

Jose Mourinho is confident his Tottenham side are ready for the challenge as they attempt to inflict a second major blow of the season on his former club Manchester United.

After a stunning 6-1 win at Old Trafford in October, Mourinho's Tottenham will bid to end United's 22-match unbeaten away run in the Premier League on Sunday.

United sit second in the table, with Spurs down in sixth, but five successive home wins in all competitions may give the hosts an edge ahead of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium clash.

Mourinho, sacked as United boss in December 2018, expects a game that is a world away from their earlier meeting this season.

"I think that 6-1 doesn't reflect the reality," he said. "It can happen sometimes between two big clubs, these crazy results, but they happen in an isolated way. I go much more in the direction of the other two previous matches between us and United.

"We lost 2-1 at Old Trafford with a penalty and we drew 1-1 at home last season also with a penalty.

"For me, this is more the reality. We are not far from each other. I think it's going to be a difficult match for both."

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said he expects his team to use their savaging at Spurs' hands as motivational fuel for the trip to north London.

Mourinho said: "If it was the opposite, my team losing 6-1 against them, I would say to my guys that it happened once but it's not going to happen twice, the game is going to be tight and we can win. But I don't know. Maybe Solskjaer thinks in a different way."

Tottenham were knocked out of the Europa League by Dinamo Zagreb last month, and Mourinho, though regretful of that result, says there has at least been the positive knock-on effect of being able to work extensively on the training pitch this week.

"I go with confidence because I believe in us, I believe in the work we are doing this week to try to prepare the match the best we can," he said.

"I don't want to go to the match with other things in mind other than we are ready.

"We are working well during this week, for the wrong reasons, which is that we were knocked out of the Europa League. For the wrong reasons, we were able to have a week to work - we didn't have many during the season.

"Now, we had it. And that makes me positive. I enjoyed the work this week and I'm positive."

United have had penalties against Tottenham in their past three Premier League meetings, but Mourinho brushed off that factor.

"I cannot go to a football match concerned, I don't think it's the right frame of mind," he said.

The Portuguese admires United's away form in the league but does not consider the visitors unbeatable this weekend, as Tottenham chase a first league double over United since the 1989-90 season, when Terry Venables was Spurs manager.

United have won just one of their past eight away Premier League matches against Spurs (D4 L3), a 1-0 win at Wembley in January 2019.

"I'm not going to comment on the record, apart from to say many congratulations," Mourinho said.

"I know that is very, very difficult for different reasons, but that record is not going to stop us to think and feel we can win, and it is not going to stop us to fight to win.

"At the end of the match, maybe the result is different and their record becomes even better. But it's not the record that is going to stop us thinking we can win."

United have not conceded more than seven goals - achieved by four clubs - against any opponent over their two meetings in the Premier League era, a record that could be broken on Sunday.

The last team to score more than seven against United in a top-flight season were Spurs, who netted eight against the Red Devils in 1962-63.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is "pretty, pretty sure" his Manchester United players will be looking to prove a point when they visit Tottenham on Sunday.

United lost the reverse fixture 6-1 at Old Trafford, their joint-heaviest Premier League defeat and worst since another home humbling in the 2011 Manchester derby.

Spurs looked like title contenders while United were marooned in the bottom half of the table, their hapless display - in which Anthony Martial was sent off - described by former captain Gary Neville as "spineless" and "absolutely pathetic".

But United have recovered to sit second in the table, albeit 14 points behind Manchester City, while Tottenham are sixth.

Jose Mourinho's men are desperate for points but will face motivated opponents at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Solskjaer suggested.

"I think the players will remember that game with a lot of pain," Solskjaer said. "Their pride has been hurt, their professional pride. The manner we lost is not ourselves and our team-worthy. We know that.

"We gave ourselves a difficult game by having 10 men, pre-season was short and we were not up to the standard required, but we were so poor.

"I'm pretty, pretty sure we'll see some players wanting to prove we're better than that."

United took the lead in that match through a second-minute Bruno Fernandes penalty, but that was one of just five shots while Spurs attempted 22.

Solskjaer felt his side's early-season fitness issues were a key contributing factor in that October defeat.

"The biggest thing that we've improved on is our fitness levels," he said. "We were way short of what [Tottenham] were at.

"It was our third game, was it? And we didn't look anything like [ready]."

While that is no longer an issue, there are concerns about the status of Marcus Rashford, who played through a persistent ankle problem at Granada on Thursday and scored a vital goal.

Across Europe's 'top five' leagues, no player has made more appearances in all competitions this season than Rashford (47 - tied with Fernandes).

Indeed, the three most-used players all represent United, with captain Harry Maguire third (46 appearances). Aaron Wan-Bissaka is in a tie for fourth (44).

With 3,466 minutes in the tank despite an injury issue that kept him out of the recent international break, Solskjaer was asked if England should be worried about Rashford ahead of the European Championship.

"I don't think you need to be concerned about his fitness, no - of course, barring any injury," Solskjaer said.

"His fitness is really good, he's an athletic boy, a fit boy, a strong boy. When he goes into headers and challenges, he can look after himself.

"But at one point, of course, you hope to get to a position where he doesn't have to play every game, every minute.

"At the moment, we have to take him off because he's a little bit sore. Hopefully that will improve as the season goes on."

Rashford has been relied on so heavily in part due to Edinson Cavani's limited involvement.

Widely linked with a move to Boca Juniors, Cavani has started only 14 games this term, playing 1,474 minutes, although his tally of seven goals is a match for Martial and outperforms Mason Greenwood (six).

"I've kept in touch with Edi, of course," Solksjaer said. "We keep an open dialogue. He's still unsure what he wants to do next season, which I find fine.

"It's not been an easy year either for him or the rest of the world, so he still wants time to make his mind up.

"I'm very sure that we'll get a good version of Edinson for the rest of the season. Hopefully we can keep him fit the next six, seven weeks."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has doubled down on his claims Jose Mourinho should not have been content with guiding Manchester United to second place during his Old Trafford reign.

Solskjaer and United again go head-to-head with Mourinho on Sunday as the Red Devils visit Tottenham looking to avenge their 6-1 home defeat earlier this season.

Mourinho is looking to become the first former United manager since Dave Sexton in 1981-82, then Coventry City boss, to complete a league double over the club following his departure.

The Portuguese won the EFL Cup and Europa League at Old Trafford but his best league finish was second in 2017-18.

Mourinho claimed that performance, behind record-breaking rivals Manchester City, as one of his "greatest achievements".

But Solskjaer, at the time in his previous role as Molde coach, responded: "I don't think any of the Man United supporters, ex-players or players are happy with second place."

Solskjaer subsequently took charge of United in late 2018 and has only now guided them back to second, again behind City.

Given the opportunity to backtrack and hail both his own and Mourinho's achievement ahead of the Spurs match, Solskjaer refused.

While United have shown signs of progress this season, their manager wants more.

"We should never settle for second place at Man United," he said. "We'll never settle for second place.

"That's the point here - we have seen the heights and know what this club is capable of.

"For me, I've been here now a little while myself and it's taken time for us to be in this position. Hopefully we can be better next season, because this is below our ambitions."

Tottenham could become the first team to record a Premier League double over Solskjaer's United. The ex-Molde coach was last beaten twice by the same side in a league season by Ranheim in the 2018 Norwegian Eliteserien.

In fact, Spurs have never claimed a Premier League double over United, last doing so in the league in the 1989-90 campaign under Terry Venables.

Few would forget the previous meeting between Tottenham and Manchester United – least of all Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Red Devils manager described the 6-1 battering at Old Trafford as "my worst day ever", and "very embarrassing" as he tried to come to terms with United's heaviest defeat since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and some deeply worrying performance levels from his players.

It marked the first time since 1986-87 that United had lost their first two league games of a season, with Crystal Palace having humbled them 3-1 on matchday one. The intervening match was a borderline miraculous 3-2 win at Brighton and Hove Albion, when Bruno Fernandes scored a penalty in the 100th minute after the hosts had hit the woodwork five times.

While Jose Mourinho could celebrate vengeance on his old club, fans and pundits feared for his successor. Gary Neville blasted the "spineless" players as "absolutely pathetic"; Patrice Evra, sitting shellshocked in a Sky Sports studio, told the United stars: "Look in the mirror and be honest – you're an embarrassment."

In fact, it seemed Solskjaer was alone in promising United would bounce back. His vow to fight to turn things around sounded almost blindly optimistic, as Spurs suddenly looked the most obvious dark horse to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City in the title race.

And yet, ahead of Sunday's match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, only one manager is facing serious, persistent questions about his future – and it's not the man from Norway.

Now, it's Spurs who look to be going backwards, as the clamour for a change in the dugout grows and the incumbent looks increasingly unable to fix the problems.

ROLE-REVERSAL

Spurs' 6-1 win moved them to seven points from their first four matches and left United four points and 11 goals behind in the table.

Since that game, the two teams' trajectories have been very different. United have taken 57 points from their most recent 27 matches, 15 more than Spurs, who have played a game less. Solskjaer's men in that time are behind only Man City when it comes to most points, most wins (16), most goals scored (53) and fewest conceded (22), with each side suffering a league-low two defeats.

Spurs, by contrast, have won 12 and lost eight since that Old Trafford visit, scoring 39 goals (the second-lowest in the top seven) and conceding 27 (the joint-most in the top seven). They have lost more times in home games since then (three) than United have in total (two), while the Red Devils have won eight of their most recent 14 away league matches as part of a club-record run of 22 on the road without defeat.

Goals have been a particular concern for Spurs despite the spectacular form of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. Spurs outperformed their expected goals by nearly a factor of two in the win over United and have surpassed their seasonal xG in the Premier League by eight, showing the benefit of their ruthless centre-forwards. Such figures are always likely to even out eventually: in their most recent game at Newcastle United, xG suggests a 2-2 draw was just about the best result they could have hoped for on the day given the quality of chances they created and conceded.

'A BRITTLE HORSE'

Arsenal loanee Joe Willock's 85th-minute equaliser for Newcastle saw Spurs drop yet more points due to late drama. This season, they have given up 11 points thanks to goals conceded in the final 10 minutes of matches, the most of any side in the division.

Kane's double meant they had been winning at half-time, making that game at St James' Park the sixth in 2020-21 in which they have failed to win after leading at the break – again, the worst such figure in the top flight.

It has become a worrying habit for Mourinho's teams. During his first 120 Premier League games in charge of Chelsea, Mourinho saw his side drop only 14 points from winning positions and just six in their title-winning seasons in 2004-05 and 2005-06. His United side gave up 18 points from winning positions in 93 matches; in 56 games at Spurs, he has watched his players surrender 26 points.

By contrast, United have become better at holding onto results. After giving up 14 points from winning positions last season, they have only surrendered seven in 2020-21, the same number as leaders City. Crucially, they have gained more points from losing positions (25) than any other Premier League side this term, underlining Solskjaer's demands for more "robustness" from his players.

That difference in holding onto points between Mourinho's old and present team has little to do with luck, or 'Spursyness', or even Bruno Fernandes penalties (he's scored four in 17 league games in 2021). Rather, it seems a natural result of stylistic differences, of percentages (mostly) playing out in United's favour.

THE 'UNITED WAY' IS WORKING

While United have scored 53 goals in 27 league games since losing to Spurs – fewer only than Man City (60 in 28) – Mourinho's men have scored 39 in 26, the sixth-best tally in that time frame.

Like Spurs, United are outperforming their xG for this season (by seven), but their superior goalscoring – and results – have emerged from what appears to be a broadly more attacking attitude since that October hammering.

United have attempted 390 shots since that defeat, fewer only than Man City (424). Of those shots, 163 have been on target, just one down on the league leaders. As for Spurs, they have attempted 268 shots in their most recent 26 games – that's the sixth-lowest figure in the league, and three behind Steve Bruce's much-maligned Newcastle United.

It follows that their chances created (186) is also the sixth-lowest number in the division in that time, and 124 behind United, who are again second only to Man City in this category.

The best Mourinho teams have been famously intransigent when it comes to giving up chances to their opponents, but again, Spurs do not fall into such a category. Since beating United, Spurs have faced 337 shots, more than 11 other clubs including north London rivals Arsenal (298), struggling Fulham (297) and Southampton (285). They have conceded 27 goals in that time; only West Ham (33) have let in more among sides currently in the top seven in the table.

In the same time period, United have faced 284 shots – that may only be the sixth-best in the league, but it's a major improvement on Spurs' tally – with only 22 finding a way in.

United are not the finished article, of course, and Spurs could yet end this troubled season with a top-four finish and an EFL Cup. Still, Solskjaer is making much stronger progress than Mourinho – something that seemed implausible six months ago.

Argentine veteran Sergio Aguero has been list with plenty of clubs after Manchester City confirmed he would be leaving this off-season.

Among those are European heavyweights Chelsea and Barcelona.

But Leeds United have reportedly entered the race for the 32-year-old forward.

 

TOP STORY - LEEDS JOIN AGUERO PURSUIT

Leeds United want to bring Sergio Aguero to Elland Road on a free transfer this off-season.

Manchester City confirmed last month that Aguero would be departing the club after a decade of service.

90Min reports that Leeds hope Aguero's countryman Marcelo Bielsa can help woo him to the newly promoted club.

 

ROUND-UP

- The speculation around Kylian Mbappe's future continues, with The Telegraph reporting that he is stalling on signing a new deal with Paris Saint-Germain with his current contract to expire in 2022. Cuatro claims Mbappe will not sign a new deal as he wants to join Real Madrid.

- ESPN reports Edinson Cavani is "closer than ever" to finalizing a deal to join Argentine club Boca Juniors from Manchester United for this off-season.

- Manchester United may look into signing West Ham United's England international midfielder Declan Rice, as part of a permanent switch for Jesse Lingard, claims the Athletic.

- Metro claims Lyon's Joachim Andersen will cost £25m amid reported interest from Manchester United and Tottenham.

- Yangel Herrera, who is on loan at Granada from Manchester City, has ignited interest from West Ham United according to Todofichajes.

- Inter may explore signing Napoli's Nikola Maksimovic if Andrea Ranocchia leaves, reports Calciomercato.

Son Heung-min urged Tottenham to summon the spirit of "warriors" in order to win the battle for a Champions League spot.

Spurs sit sixth, three points behind fourth-placed West Ham with eight games of the Premier League season remaining.

It has been a frustrating campaign for Jose Mourinho's side, who dropped points from a winning position once again as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Newcastle United last time out.

Spurs have now failed to win six Premier League games this season in which they have led at the interval – the most of any side – heading into Sunday's visit of Manchester United.

But Son, who has 18 goals in all competitions this term, is still upbeat about turning the campaign into a success, with the EFL Cup final against Manchester City to come later this month.

"I'm a really positive guy, we're three points behind the top four and, let's be honest, it would have been even better if we'd won the points against Newcastle, but we didn't and that's really sad," the South Korea star told Tottenham's official website.

"We've nine games left with the cup final and we have to be ready, we have to be warriors, that's very important for the rest of the season."

The London club did manage a strong finish to the interrupted 2019-20 season, winning five and drawing two of their final eight league games to finish sixth and secure a Europa League berth.

Asked if Spurs could take heart from that, Son said: "Yes, we are in a slightly better position than last season.

"We're three points off the top four, it's tight and we all want to play in the Champions League next season, that's our aim, that's the club's aim, the fans' aim as well. That's what we all want. We're all focused on that and we will try as hard as possible to get there."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United represent the next foe for Spurs to vanquish, with Mourinho having overseen a 6-1 win at Old Trafford in October.

The Red Devils have won just once in their previous eight top-flight trips to Tottenham, who are aiming to become the first side to do a league double over a United side under Solskjaer's charge.

But not all the omens favour the hosts, with United on a 22-match unbeaten run away from home in the league.

What does the future hold for Lorenzo Insigne?

The Napoli captain is no certainty to remain at his boyhood club as his contract runs down.

A switch to Milan could be on the cards…

 

TOP STORY – MILAN TARGETING INSIGNE

Milan met with Lorenzo Insigne's agent as they eye a move for the Napoli captain, according to Gianluigi Di Marzio.

Insigne – previously linked with Liverpool – has one year remaining on his current contract and the Italy international is yet to re-sign with his boyhood club.

Serie A rivals Milan are monitoring the situation and ready to pounce.

 

ROUND-UP

- A move for Insigne depends on the future of Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu. The 27-year-old is set to become a free agent and Arsenal and Chelsea are eyeing the Turkey international, reports Sky Italy. Manchester United have also been linked.

- The front page of Thursday's Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter and neighbours Milan are going head-to-head to sign Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic. The Serbia international is also reportedly wanted by United, Juventus and Tottenham.

Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester City are vying to sign Inter star Romelu Lukaku this off-season, claims Calciomercato. Lukaku has emerged as a target for all three clubs, who are also eyeing Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling HaalandReal Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, United and Liverpool have also been linked with Haaland.

- According to Corriere dello Sport, Roma and Milan both want to sign Torino captain Andrea Belotti. With Torino struggling, the Italy forward could be ready to jump at the chance for European football.

Tottenham are stepping up their pursuit of Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard, says the Express. Spurs have long been linked with Inter star Milan Skriniar, but Vestergaard appears to be an easier option.

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