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Premier League - Football: What now for United?

There is a reduced Premier League schedule on Saturday but all three games are shrouded in intrigue, most notably Man Utd v Tottenham.

The 17:30 match features two sides battling for the final top-four place, although neither has the consistency to be relied upon.

Earlier in the day, Liverpool will look to bounce back against Brighton at 12:30, while the sole 15:00 match is a relegation tussle as Burnley head to Brentford.

Red Devils failing to fire

Ralf Rangnick's November arrival at Old Trafford was hailed as a masterstroke, with two of the Premier League's leading managers, Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp and Chelsea's Thomas Tuchel, openly admitting to being disciples of his vision of the game.

However, his blueprint is yet to take hold at Man Utd and there have been accusations that he has failed to unite the dressing room and bewildered the players with his tactics and coaching.

The latest reports even suggest that technical director Darren Fletcher has been acting as an intermediary between all parties following last Sunday's 4-1 derby demolition at the hands of Manchester City.

Rangnick was hampered by injuries and illness heading into that game but the Red Devils were outclassed at the Etihad, with captain Harry Maguire again struggling.

Maguire's leadership is thought to have been questioned by Cristiano Ronaldo, who is believed to see himself as a better option to wear the armband.

Ronaldo is a doubt for Saturday with a hip flexor injury and that will suit Tottenham, who were terrorised by the Portuguese in the reverse game in October. However, a counter-argument is that his play is at odds with his teammates' and that they too may flourish without him.

United have floundered since Sir Alex Ferguson departed at the end of the 2012/13 season, chopping and changing in a bid to find a winning formula. Rangnick's appointment was expected to give stability and he is still likely to follow the plan of moving upstairs at the end of the season to design a strategy to restore the glory days to Old Trafford.

However, his approach for next season will depend on the current campaign and they currently sit fifth in the table. A top-four finish is 4/1 and a win on Saturday at 6/5 could prove pivotal to their hopes.

Somehow, someway, the 63-year-old needs to get his side playing. In Ferguson's era, the Old Trafford crowd could decide matches. However, if you'd seen under 2.5 goals scored, available at 11/10, in nine of your last 10 trips to your team's home, would you be cheering?

With the talent available, especially in attacking areas, there is no doubt that United should be producing far more than they are. The question is, can Rangnick and his Red Devils show enough in their final 10 Premier League games to set them up for next season and beyond?

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Will the real Spurs stand up?

That 3-0 win in October was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's last great day in charge of the Red Devils and also signalled the end of Nuno Espirito Santo's short reign at Spurs.

Antonio Conte was installed soon after in what appeared to be another masterful appointment. Mauricio Pochettino, and maybe Harry Redknapp aside, Tottenham's managers over recent decades have struggled to get a regular tune from their players, regardless of the talent on show.

Conte is famous for not suffering fools and has seen his team win three of their last four in the Premier League. However, he is also emotional and questioned his own position on the back of their sole defeat in that time, a 1-0 loss at struggling Burnley.

They also lost out to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup and while the 52-year-old will have been heartened by Monday's 5-0 win over Everton, he will be aware that the Toffees were as woeful as his side were good.

There has been talk of Conte perhaps becoming the next manager of United but his focus, for now, is on Spurs and they are seventh in the Premier League table, two points shy of Saturday's opponents but having played two games less.

Spurs are 9/4 to win on Saturday, with the draw 12/5. They also have pleasant memories of Old Trafford having won their last game there 6-1, a night where both Harry Kane and Son Heung-min scored twice.

With five goals in as many games, Kane's return to form can only help Tottenham's hopes of a Champions League finish. The England captain is 5/1 to score two or more and on the evidence of United's defending at the Etihad, will be licking his lips with excitement.

Inter upset a wake-up call for Reds

Tuesday's 1-0 last-16 Champions League defeat to Inter Milan was the first time the Reds had lost at Anfield in a year. Jurgen Klopp described his team's finishing as "slapstick" and having squeezed through in Europe, he will be demanding a response on the domestic front.

A win at Brighton on Saturday at 12:30 is 1/2 and they face a Seagulls side who have lost their last four games. They have also won just three of their 13 homes outings at the Amex.

Graham Potter's side are 5/1 to improve that tally and pushed the Reds hard in October, drawing 2-2 at Anfield in a game they arguably should have won after clawing back a two-goal deficit.

They will again look to go toe-to-toe with the Reds but the Merseysiders' Premier League form has been relentless since the turn of the year, claiming 22 of a possible 24 points to cut the gap on Manchester City in the standings to six points with a game in hand.

Having already claimed silverware this season in the form of the EFL Cup, Klopp's side are 11/4 to win the Premier League and will be looking to roar back following their Nerazzurri nightmare.

Eriksen option can be the difference for Brentford

There were few more heartening sights last weekend than that of Christian Eriksen running on for his first start since his harrowing departure from Euro 2020 last June.

The occasion could have gotten the better of him, but the Dane dominated at Carrow Road, providing the midfield control so often lacking in Brentford's play as they claimed a 3-1 win over Norwich.

That same guile could again be crucial at 15:00 on Saturday when Burnley travel to west London. The Clarets have lost their last two without scoring but know that with two games in hand, they have a real chance to move out of the relegation places.

Burnley won the reverse fixture 3-1 but have triumphed just once on the road this season. Sean Dyche's men are 13/5 to double their tally but may struggle to get the ball off the 23/20 Bees.

Thomas Frank's side had failed to win their eight Premier League games before that win at Norwich and have played more matches than any other team in the bottom half.

Can they back up their performance at Norwich to boost their survival hopes? Based on Eriksen's excellence in Norfolk, they have every chance.

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