New Telegraph

EPL: Mourinho battles Ole jinx at Old Trafford

Fresh from their midweek exertions in the 4th Round of the Carabao Cup both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are the headline acts on Match Day 4 of the English Premier League today. On Tuesday night, Spurs was also the headline act when they took on fellow Premier League heavyweights, Chelsea in the Carabao Cup and managed to progress courtesy of penalties.


Twenty-four hours later, it was the turn of their today’s opponents, Manchester United who were at Brighton & Hove Albion to meet the Seagulls for the second time within four days with the Red Devils playing much better in securing a 3-0 win.


However, both managers are certain to make wholesome changes to their teams that played in midweek because as we all know the Premier League is a more prestigious competition for not only them but also the players and fans.


Besides the game being more significant, there is also the small issue of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer squaring up against the man he replaced in the Old Trafford hot seat, Jose Mourinho almost two years ago. Incidentally the man called the ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ during his playing days with United is yet to lose to the Portuguese, who is undoubtedly one of the greatest managers of his generation.


In their first meeting on December 4, 2019, which took place roughly two weeks after Mourinho was named Spurs boss, United won 2-1 at Old Trafford and then followed up with a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture. However, Mourinho will be confident that this is the perfect time to visit the Theatre of Dreams as the current Red Devils is a far cry from the side that finished last season so impressively unbeaten after the COVID-19 enforced lockdown on football was lifted on June 17. United kicked off the new season with a shock 3-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace and did not play much better in their second game against Brighton which they won 3-2 courtesy of a controversial late penalty.

Ole’s side has just not been at the races at all this term and will need to dramatically improve if it is not to be a second home defeat on the trot. On the other hand, Mourinho’s side bounced back from a shock opening day 1-0 loss to Everton to follow up with an impressive 5-2 with over Southampton in which they to overcome a 2-0 first half deficit. However, an angry Mourinho stormed off last Sunday after seeing his side completely outplay Newcastle but still ended up dropping points after a penalty was awarded the Magpies for a controversial handball.


But should the London outfit bring the same kind of intensity they showed against the Saints to Old Trafford today then United fans will be in for another evening of disquiet with many of them fearing another outcome like August 27, 2018 when the London outfit blew the Red Devils away 3-0!


One positive stat that home fans can hold on to is the fact that Ole’s side has a very good record against the top six sides in the league with the Red Devils taking 14 points from possible 24 last season in games against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham.


They came from home wins against Chelsea (two), Tottenham (one) and City (one), with a draw apiece against Arsenal and Liverpool. United fans will be praying for this record to continue this afternoon. There are five other games taking place today with Leicester hosting West Ham, while West Bromwich is down south at Southampton.


Other games see Arsenal hosting Sheffield United, Wolves v Fulham and ends with Aston Villa welcoming champions, Liverpool to Villa Park.

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