Wayne Rooney Manchester United
Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney celebrates a goal against Cardiff, November 24. Reuters

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Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney celebrates a goal against Cardiff, November 24. Reuters
Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney celebrates a goal against Cardiff, November 24. Reuters

Two teams that have blown hot and cold this season - Tottenham and Manchester United -- clash in a crucial English Premier League encounter on Sunday.

United have been far from their best in defence of their Premier League title this season, understandably, after suffering the blow of losing the incomparable Sir Alex Ferguson, with new manager David Moyes taking his time to bed in.

The morale-boosting 1-0 win over Arsenal was supposed to be United's season-uplifter, a win from which they can kick-on and continue their climb up to the summit of the table, where they have been so often since the advent of the Premier League.

However, that victory proved to be a bit of a false dawn as United's failing, both on the attacking and defensive front, came to the fore yet again in a 2-2 draw against Cardiff, where they could have easily come away without a single point, even with the Welsh side scoring a late equaliser.

Moyes, though, will look to United's splendid performance against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League where they thumped the German side 5-0 to book their place in the knockout stages.

"The best is to come and I still think we can continue to improve and progress," Moyes said ahead of the Tottenham game. "We had some little bits of inconsistency at times, which we need to try to do better with, but there have been moments that have shown we are beginning to come right back into form.

"That is what I hope. Midweek [against Bayer Leverkusen] certainly showed what we are capable of when we are playing well and the job is to do that week in, week out."

Tottenham are not without their own troubles. A bright start, in terms of points not goals, has quickly vanished into mediocrity courtesy their last three Premier League games, where they have picked up just a single point, without scoring a single goal.

Spurs, with 20 points from 12 games, one less than United, have, in fact, managed just nine goals all season, with only the bottom two clubs in the Premier League - Sunderland and Crystal Palace - faring worse.

The 6-0 thrashing handed to them by Manchester City will still be jarring, but Spurs, like United, will look to their midweek Europa League win, where they picked up a 2-0 result at Tromso, to end their Premier League skid.

"I am very happy for the players to have bounced back from the defeat against Man City," Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas said after the Tromso win. "Obviously the opponent we have on Sunday is the biggest that we can have.

"But to prepare for that game, it was important to get back to winning ways and we did it in a fashion where we looked solid and created lots of chances. I am extremely happy with the performance and result."

Moyes, likewise, is expecting a tough match at White Hart Lane, despite Tottenham's recent struggles. "No matter when you play Tottenham, it'll always be a hard game," he said. "We're both coming off the back of European games, but we will go down there and try to win the game."

Team news: Spurs rested a whole host of players for the Tromso clash and the likes of Paulinho, Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker, Sandro, Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe, Younes Kaboul and Emmanuel Adebayor are all expected to return to the squad on Sunday. Danny Rose and Christian Eriksen, however, remain sidelined.

Moyes is hopeful Robin Van Persie and Nemanja Vidic will be passed fit, but Michael Carrick is still out with an Achilles problem.

Key men: Tottenham: Roberto Soldado has come for much criticism for Spurs, for his lack of goals, and the Spanish international will see a big game against Manchester United as the perfect opportunity to silence his doubters.

Manchester United: Wayne Rooney was sensational against Leverkusen, grabbing four assists in the 5-0 win and the England international will again look to pull the strings for his side at White Hart Lane.

Where to Watch Live

The game is scheduled for a 5.30 pm IST start with live coverage on Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD2 in India. You can also catch the match via live streaming by clicking HERE. To watch the action in the U.S., click HERE. To live stream it in the U.K., click HERE. Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can click HERE.

Expected lineups: Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Kaboul, Vertonghen; Sandro, Paulinho; Townsend, Holtby, Sigurdsson; Soldado.

Manchester United: De Gea; Smalling, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Jones, Giggs; Valencia, Kagawa, Januzaj; Rooney.

Prediction: 1-1