2014 begun with a bang for Tottenham Hotspur as they inflicted a fourth home league defeat of the season for Manchester United on New Years Day.
The conditions in Manchester may have been far from ideal, but this certainly didn’t stop the fireworks going off for a second consecutive evening in the city as a thrilling contest swung in the favour of Tim Sherwood’s Spurs side.
It will be Emmanuel Adebayor who will get the headlines once again for the Lillywhites, whose fourth league goal of the season gave Spurs the lead after 34 minutes of the game.
However, the real star performer for Spurs was their Romanian defender and Man of the Match, Vlad Chiriches.
Chiriches was an absolute rock at the centre of Spurs’ back four. His composure and athleticism to keep out a United side with no fewer than six attacking players in it at the final whistle was almost Herculean in nature.
The Romanian international has proven a more than worthy deputy for the injured Jan Vertonghen and seems an absolute bargain for the less than £9million paid for his services by Spurs in the summer.
The manner of the win will have been extremely pleasurable for Head Coach Tim Sherwood as his bold decision to stick with a 4-4-2 formation paid dividends. Christian Eriksen looks a totally different player under Sherwood, whilst Aarron Lennon is definitely back to his best after an injury ridden few seasons.
In goal, Hugo Lloris was somewhat an enigma. He made some spectacular saves to secure three points for his side, but it could be argued he was lucky not to give away a penalty for a reckless late challenge on Ashley Young as United chased an equaliser.
If referee Howard Webb got that decision wrong, one he certainly called correctly was not giving a penalty when Danny Welbeck took a tumble under a non-existent challenge from Chiriches in the second half. Retrospective action against persistent offenders should be taken.
This nervy 2-1 victory means that Spurs have now won their last two encounters at Old Trafford having previously gone 26 games without winning at the home of the champions. They also move up to 6th in the league, just two points off forth place.
As for an ageing and settled United squad, the transition to a new manager for the first time in two and a half decades was never going to be easy. However few could have predicted the turn of events that has left David Moyes’ side 11 points from the top of the Premier League at the start of 2014.
It looks a long way back for the Red Devils now, and unless they spend big in January, their season could go out with a splutter rather than a bang.