When Tottenham Hotspur host Manchester United at White Hart Lane this Sunday, both teams are likely to look back to the reverse fixture in September as a turning point in their respective seasons.
In the build-up to that match, all the talk was of how Tottenham had failed to win at Old Trafford for 45 years when Jimmy Greaves scored the winning goal (or maybe it was 23 years and Gary Lineker, I can’t remember – and it doesn’t actually matter now).
But with the form book well and truly ripped up and thrown out of window (I hope that emphasises just how much of an upset it was), Spurs managed to win a pulsating match 3-2 and it has set the two sides up for a fine first half of the campaign.
Andre Villas-Boas was under some pressure going into that match after some disjointed and uninspiring performances to that point, but that historic win has kick-started his tenure and Spurs are looking good for their stated aim of Champions League qualification.
The north London outfit are fourth, just two points behind Chelsea in third, and I fancy them strongly to complete the job and finish in the all-important top four.
Despite being on the end of the setback, United have used it as the blue touch paper for a brilliant run in the Premier League. It is hard to imagine now, but Sir Alex Ferguson had been publicly questioning his team’s performances as Tottenham subjected his side to a second defeat in the first six league matches.
Since that moment, though, the Red Devils haven’t looked back. United have played 16 league games in the intervening period and have won 14 of them, losing just once, to storm seven points clear at the top of the table.
Characterised by a shed load of goals – 42 of them have been scored and 19 conceded in that run – United’s matches have been notable for their brilliant attacking but also, by their standards, some woeful defending that hasn’t yet caught up with them.
But I just have a sneaky feeling that they are due to come a cropper soon and I think it could be on Sunday at White Hart Lane.
United are understandably favourites at 13/10, with the draw at 12/5, but at 19/10, I think Tottenham are well priced and that is where my money is going.
Of course, betting against Ferguson’s side is the quickest way to the poor house and it isn’t something I do lightly. But even though they are well clear at the summit they are far from infallible and Tottenham are more than capable of taking advantage of United’s weaknesses.
That is mainly their defence, which still looks far too vulnerable for a team in first position. United have let in 29 league goals, more than ten other sides, and have kept just five clean sheets in 22 games, which is a very poor record indeed.
And in-form Spurs have the tools to do some damage. Tottenham are on a great run of just one loss in their last 13 games in all competitions and even that was a last-gasp defeat to Everton at Goodison Park.
Nine of those fixtures have been won, with 24 goals scored in those victories, and I think Tottenham have a good enough home record – just two losses in 15 games under Villas-Boas – that they will be confident of nicking a win against United.
I am not too concerned about Spurs’ poor record at home to their visitors: after all, they hadn’t won at Old Trafford for 23 years.
And I just look at United and feel that a few of their recent performances have been far from dominant and a loss is around the corner. Why not at White Hart Lane?
At 19/10, it is worth a punt on AVB securing a famous league double.