Tottenham Hotspur will aim to register their first win over Manchester United in more than 10 years when they host the Premier League champions at White Hart Lane on Sunday, knowing they must be at their best after last week’s setback at Arsenal.
Third-placed Spurs should have midfielder Gareth Bale, forward Rafael van der Vaart and fullback Kyle Walker available after injury for the clash with United, who are second, eight points ahead of the London side and two behind Manchester City.
Manager Harry Redknapp must rally his team after they were thrashed 5-2 by arch rivals Arsenal at The Emirates last Sunday but they will be without their new England captain Scott Parker who is suspended.
Asked if Tottenham had their best chance to beat United since their last win in 2001, Redknapp said: “It’s still difficult. Manchester United are still a great team. You know what you are in for.
“You have got to be at your best if you’re going to get a result. They have done fantastic again.
“But we’ve got a big chance, we have got a good team. They are a top team, so are we, so it should be a great game,” he told reporters at the club’s training ground on Friday.
Spurs are seven points ahead of London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for third place and an automatic Champions League qualifying place and Redknapp said that was the priority with their chances of a first league title since 1961 having faded over the last few weeks.
“We want Champions League football,” Redknapp said. “We’re in a great position still. We had a bad weekend but that was a one-off. Since the first two games of the season (a defeat at United and loss at home to Manchester City)… last week was the first bad day we’ve had but it happens.
“Arsenal went to Chelsea and scored five, Man United got smashed by Man City at home. It can happen.
“You’ve just got to look at it and look at what went wrong and try to put it right,” he added.
Bale is likely to be fit after suffering a slight hamstring strain in the warm-up for Wales’s friendly against Costa Rica on Wednesday.
“Gareth has had a bit of a hamstring (problem), hopefully he should be OK,” Redknapp said.
Van der Vaart, who pulled out of the Netherlands squad for Wednesday’s game against England at Wembley with a calf injury, was likely to train on Friday. Walker, who had to withdraw from the England squad for that match with an ankle injury, was also expected to be fit for Sunday’s match.
However, Parker will serve a one-match suspension following his sending off late in the game at Arsenal and is likely to be replaced by Brazilian Sandro or Jake Livermore in the holding midfield role.
“It’s a big blow for us,” said Redknapp. “Scotty has been in great form and obviously did well for England again in the week and he has been an amazing player for us this season.”
Redknapp, who has been widely tipped as the next England manager, would not be drawn on whether Parker should retain the captaincy for the national team’s Euro 2012 campaign but said: “It was great for Scott to lead the (England) team out and be captain and I’m sure he’s very, very proud of that.
“He deserves it. He’s a great professional and a fantastic person so I was delighted for him.”
Redknapp was celebrating his 65th birthday on Friday and, after the reporters at his weekly news conference began proceedings by singing ‘Happy Birthday’, the Spurs manager said he had no plans to retire any time soon.