Revitalised Spurs put United to the test

Man United face their biggest game of the season so far when a revitalised Tottenham arrive at Old Trafford this weekend for the pick of the 4th round ties

updated: January 31, 2008 09:11 IST
  • Total Shares


Manchester United face their biggest game of the season so far when a revitalised Tottenham arrive at Old Trafford this weekend for the pick of the fourth round ties in the FA Cup.

Refreshed by a mid-winter break in the heat of Saudi Arabia, Sir Alex Ferguson's class of 2008 will seek to keep their bid to emulate the treble winners of 1999 alive against opponents riding a wave of confidence following their 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal in midweek.

That put Spurs into the League Cup final and the mood around White Hart Lane has been improved further by Dimitar Berbatov's subsequent revelation that he is happy to stay at a club whose fortunes have been turned around since Juande Ramos took over earlier this season.

Berbatov is a player Ferguson would love to have on his payroll and the Scot knows his defence, the cornerstone of United's success this season, will have to be vigilant about the threat posed by the Bulgarian and the rest of a Tottenham side who displayed real verve in their attacking play on Tuesday.

United are hoping Paul Scholes might be ready to feature in Sunday's match following his recovery from a knee injury.

"'Scholesy' is looking good in training," fellow midfielder Owen Hargreaves reported. "Everyone knows the quality he brings to the team, if we can get him back, it would be a massive boost for us."

Arsenal will attempt to rebound from their midweek trauma -- which was compounded by an on-the-pitch confrontation between their strikers Emmanuel Adebayor and Nicklas Bendtner -- when the newly reinstalled Kevin Keegan leads his Newcastle side out at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Gunners skipper William Gallas acknowledged that the north London club's fans will expect better from them in their next appearance.

"The fans are upset, we are upset - all the club are upset and we have to accept it," said the French defender.

"Now we have to be strong and forget everything because on Saturday we have another big game which will not be easy."

The third all-Premier League tie of the round sees Wigan entertain the other League Cup finalists, Chelsea who have conceded just one goal in their last four games.

Wigan's chances of pulling off an upset have not been helped by the loss of their England striker, Emile Heskey, to injury.

Lovers of FA Cup tradition will relish the visit of non-league Havant and Waterlooville to Liverpool.

Anything but a comfortable win for the home side would be a major upset and there seems little danger of Liverpool taking the tie lightly in the current context of boardroom strife at Anfield.

With his side's league title ambitions virtually quashed, Reds manager Rafael Benitez knows he cannot afford any embarrassing slip-ups against the part-timers and is likely to field his strongest possible side for the visit of the side from the Conference South, five divisions below his own in English football's hierarchy.

Fixtures (1500 GMT kick-off unless stated)


Southend vs Barnsley


Arsenal vs Newcastle, Barnet vs Bristol Rovers, Coventry vs Millwall, Derby vs Preston NE, Liverpool vs Havant and Waterlooville, Mansfield vs Middlesbrough (1230 GMT), Oldham vs Huddersfield, Peterborough vs West Brom, Portsmouth vs Plymouth, Southampton vs Bury, Watford vs Wolves, Wigan Athletic vs Chelsea (1715 GMT)


Hereford vs Cardiff City (1230 GMT), Manchester Utd vs Tottenham (1400 GMT), Sheffield Utd vs Man City (1600 GMT)