Man Utd vs Spurs: Mkhitaryan and Eriksen will decide outcome
The two midfield maestros are finally coming into form and could be the key figures in this intriguing clash at Old Trafford
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has leapt to the defence of under pressure Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho as the two men prepare for their crunch clash on Sunday.
Tottenham visit Old Trafford on the back of their first league defeat of the season at the hands of Chelsea last week and in danger of slipping behind the leading pack.
That fate has already befallen Manchester United, who are enduring their worst start to a Premier League campaign and currently lie sixth in the table, six points behind Spurs and a daunting 13 off Chelsea at the top of the table.
The outcome is likely to be significant for both sides.
For Spurs, a second loss in a row could put a serious dent in their hopes of breaking into the top four and torpedo their title aspirations.
For United, this is almost a must-win game. They have drawn six of their last eight league matches and won only one, against bottom team Swansea. Another stalemate - or, worse still, a defeat - at Old Trafford will not go down well despite Mourinho's efforts to get the team playing attractive football.
Pochettino, though, was full of praise for the United boss, reports the Daily Mirror.
"For me he is the Special One and will always will be the Special One," he said. "I really believe he is one of the best. Sometimes you struggle a bit, not easy to arrive at new club, set up ideas and philosophy, but for me he was, is, will be one of best managers in football history."
The London Evening Standard believes the game will be decided in midfield and that former United target Christian Eriksen, who is finally starting to find his form this season, will be key.
"Eriksen has occasionally threatened to move into the 'world-class' bracket, without ever quite playing well enough for long enough to achieve it," it says. "By helping Spurs to victory on Sunday, Eriksen can start to make a persuasive case - as well as showing United exactly what they could have had."
But United have their own midfield ace in the form of Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has finally broken into the team and been outshining his more illustrious colleague Paul Pogba over the past couple of weeks.
"The Armenian is a fabulous player - quick, intelligent and creative - and at his best, he takes some stopping," says the Standard. "Victor Wanyama is likely to be the Tottenham midfielder asked to do so by Mauricio Pochettino on Sunday at Old Trafford.
"Whoever wins this duel will go a long way towards securing the points for his team."
The Manchester Evening News, however, is more intrigued by United's defence. Eric Bailly is fit again and is likely to start alongside Phil Jones as Mourinho tries out his eighth different central defensive pairing of the season.