Weblog: The football punter

Tottenham v Man Utd betting preview

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The last few weeks have been dominated by talk of Mauricio Pochettino weighing up a move to Old Trafford but it could be a former Manchester United target, striker Harry Kane, who has the biggest influence on Tottenham's Wembley encounter with the Red Devils.

Speculation over Kane moving to United receded after he signed a new contract last summer and the 25-year-old looks a solid 7-2 favourite to open the scoring, as he has done on each of his last three starts.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is second-favourite to be United's next permanent manager and his best chance of usurping market-leader Pochettino is to get his team closer to Spurs in the table.

The gap is ten points, although United are playing with a lot more confidence than they were towards the end of Jose Mourinho's regime.

Several players have raised their game – none more than Paul Pogba.

The Frenchman could not disguise his joy at Mourinho's demise and looks a different player, scoring four goals in four league games and one more than he managed in his previous 14 league appearances this season.

Under Solskjaer United have banked a maximum 12 points while scoring 14 goals but the opposition – three of the bottom six and a home match against an out-of-sorts Bournemouth – has been poor.

Solskjaer's side could not have done any more but the Spurs match will give a better indication of what they can expect to achieve over the rest of the season.

If they lose to Spurs, questions over the squad's limitations will resurface. But if they win it will appear more likely that Mourinho was the main obstacle to far better performance.

It would have been easier for Spurs to face United a few weeks ago but it is hard to argue with the Londoners' status as warm favourites.

Their 48-point tally after 21 games is the highest they have achieved at this point of any Premier League season and they showed a professional mentality to dig out a 1-0 victory at home to Chelsea in Tuesday's League Cup clash.

The overall performance against Chelsea was below the level Pochettino expects and there were a few tired legs which is understandable on a night when Spurs were playing their sixth match in 17 days.

However, the five-day break between the Chelsea and United games is the most preparation time Spurs have had since the November international break and might be just enough to recharge a few batteries.

Son Heung-Min will be eager to impress on his last performance before jetting off to assist South Korea's Asian Cup challenge but the bigger danger to United comes from Kane.

Despite looking jaded after the World Cup, Kane has recovered impressively and is in with a great chance of finishing as the league's top scorer.

Kane's superb header set Spurs on their way to a 3-0 victory at Old Trafford in August and he could be the match-winner this weekend.

H Kane first scorer

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Match in Focus

14:00 Su 18Aug SKY

Sheff Utd v Crystal Palace

Home WinDrawAway Win
Expert verdict
Crystal Palace held Everton to a goalless draw on the opening day and they could play out another low-scoring affair when they take on Sheffield United. Palace lacked guile last weekend while the Blades also look a little short going forward and may struggle to break their visitors down.