Will Tottenham Hotspur establish themselves as bonafide title contenders if they beat Manchester United?
To answer that question in a word. Yes. The Spurs will most definitely fancy their chances to clinch the title this year and they can topple Manchester United. Backing the argument are a few factors that hint the side can get the better of the Red Devils at Old Trafford on Sunday, October 4. One of the factors is Mourinho and the winning mindset he's brought to the North Londoners. The side finished sixth last year after languishing at 14th place before the Portuguese gaffer took over.
Tottenham Hotspur opened their 2020-21 Premier League campaign with a loss. They lost to Everton. They followed it up with a comprehensive 5-2 win over Southampton and drew their game against Newcastle. And if we take into account the team's mindset that was showcased recently in Amazon's 'All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur', they would definitely not be happy with the way their campaign started. As far as the head-to-head record goes, the Spurs had dominated as Everton lost their last 15 games against the side.
And now that streak had ended.
Up next was a massive consolation win over Southampton. The draw against Newcastle might have left Harry Kane & Co. disgruntled, but they walked away with a point. Parallelly, they're playing the Europa League and have won all four of their games and one of them was a penalty shootout against Chelsea that would have made Mourinho sleep with a smile on his face. At the time of writing, they had blanked Maccabi Haifa 7-2 and were packing their bags to head to Old Trafford.
Just about everything has gone right for Tottenham thus far this season. To start with, their transfer window saw them make some smart buys even as Manchester United struggle to get some names on their roster. The off-field tussle started over former Spur Gareth Bale. For starters, they were put their hat in the ring alongside Tottenham in pursuit of Gareth Bale but backed out when they realized the payout was a lot.
Up next was Thiago Alcantara. The Spaniard was supposed to be their other big move ahead of the start of the season, but they lost him to Liverpool. Jaden Sancho coming in looks bleak even as rumor mills churn. Good for them if they land him. In the meantime, Tottenham had Bale and his Real Madrid teammate, Sergio Reguilon. The left-back was bid by Everton and Manchester United, but the Spurs had the last word. While Bale sits out of Sunday's clash, Mourinho will still feel confident of the firepower at his disposal.
Past history plays a crucial role as well. The former United manager saw the Spurs go down to his former team twice last season as Marcus Rashford played the villain in both games. This new Spurs unit is disciplined and has what we can rightly call the "Mourinho mindset". Their style of play is more aggressive, and they're not the quintessential good boys anymore. While they may have been overworked, something Mourinho was very vocal about, even he wouldn't miss a chance to get the better of his old team.
Despite the lack of new signings, there's no doubt United are still a powerhouse outfit. And the fact they are placed 14th on the points table right now can be conveniently ignored as they will storm into the top 5 eventually. For the Spurs, a win despite the absence of an injured Son Heung-Min and tired Harry Kane will heighten their confidence even further as their next three fixtures against West Ham, Burnley and Brighton will see at least two wins at a minimum.
This has been the best Spurs unit so far and their striking has been anything but spectacular. The numbers in the Europa League serve as ample proof. They don't need to rely heavily on Son and Kane like the previous season to win games and that will set off some alarms at Ole Gunnar Solskjær's camp.
Much of the Spurs journey this season will depend on this fixture.
Tottenham Spurs vs Manchester United can be watched live on NBCSN at 11.30 am ET.