Tottenham Hotspur-Manchester United Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)

Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to keep pace with the race for the top four as they meet at Old Trafford on New Year's Day.

Both go into the game on 34 points, with hosts Manchester United (10-4-5) unbeaten in six in all competitions. Despite missing both Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney for a time over Christmas, United have continued to pick up crucial points, with Danny Welbeck scoring the winner in Saturday's 1-0 victory at Norwich.

"We have said to him we are trying to keep his finishing up," said Moyes of Welbeck. "I think Danny has responded, he is saying 'hey, this is quite good, I am beginning to score some goals and getting recognised for that as well'. He got one goal last year and now he is on seven for this season. It could be better, but you have got to say it is going in the right direction.

"With the second half of the season to go, he should be certainly looking to score 20 goals. We need him to do that because, when you don't have Wayne and you don't have Robin, then you need people to step up to the mark. In quite a few of the games recently he has done that for us."

Tottenham (10-4-5) are in a state of flux after a change at the helm and a complete change of style over the course of the last two weeks. New manager Tim Sherwood has implemented a gung-ho attacking style of football that - despite largely contributing to a disappointing League Cup quarterfinal defeat to West Ham - seems to have reaped rewards in the league with seven points picked up from the three league games over the Christmas week.

Spurs rolled past Stoke 3-0 on Sunday, and the scorer of the second goal - Mousa Dembele - is hopeful the team can kick on from that and repeat last season's success against United.

"They will be motivated against us, but we're not scared to play there and surprise everyone," said Dembele. "They are a top team. We have a lot of respect for them, but not too much. We are a good team and we have to play our own game, and then maybe we can do something.

"My memories of Old Trafford are quite good. With Fulham we played well and with Tottenham we won last year, so I'm not scared to go there. I have a lot of respect for them but we can do something there."

Manchester United have injury doubts over Wayne Rooney (groin), Robin van Persie (hip) and Rafael (groin), while Phil Jones (knee), Marouane Fellaini (thumb) and Nani (hamstring) are out. Tottenham have concerns over Paulinho (ankle), Jermain Defoe (hamstring) and Harry Kane (back), while Andros Townsend (hamstring), Sandro (calf), Younes Kaboul (hip) and Jan Vertonghen (ankle) are out.

United have won four straight league matches for the first time under Moyes, outscoring opponents 10-3 in that run. However, they have won just one of their last three at home and have picked up just 14 of a possible 27 points at Old Trafford.

Tottenham have won four of their last six, with the lone defeat in that run being the 5-0 loss to Liverpool that ended Andre Villas-Boas' tenure. The Lilywhites are seeking an unprecedented fourth straight road win in Premier League play, and their 19 road points are third-best.

It was a 2-2 draw when these teams met in early December, with Rooney twice pulling United back into the game. Spurs were unbeaten in their three games against United under previous manager Villas-Boas, with last season's game at Old Trafford ending a 22-match winless streak against the Red Devils thanks to a 3-2 win.

United had won 10 of the previous 13 between the two at Old Trafford by a combined 26-4 margin.