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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Dimitar Berbatov is battling to be fit to return to former club Tottenham Hotspur with current side Manchester United.The Bulgarian striker left White Hart Lane in acrimonious circumstances as the summer transfer window shuddered to a halt on 1st September.

Saturday's game presents Berbatov with the first opportunity for the 27-year-old to find out just what Spurs fans think about his departure.

However, it could be that the Tottenham faithful will have to wait for a chance to express their feelings as Berbatov is battling to shake off an Achilles problem.

Berbatov suffered a kick to his Achilles in last week's 1-0 win over Sunderland and sat out the 2-2 draw with AaB Aalborg in the UEFA Champions League in midweek.

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6,605 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Defending champions Manchester United failed to close the gap at the top of the Premier League table as they were held to a stalemate at Tottenham Hotspur

Following Liverpool's draw with Hull City earlier on Saturday, United went into their encounter at White Hart Lane well aware that a victory would move them to within four points of the leaders.

However, neither United - who were playing their last match before jetting off to participate in the Fifa Club World Cup - nor Tottenham could break the deadlock in North London.

Harry Redknapp's Spurs enjoyed the better of the first 45 minutes as David Bentley, Aaron Lennon and Tom Huddlestone went close.

United and striker Dimitar Berbatov - who was roundly booed on his first return to his former home after a £30million switch to Old Trafford on the final day of the summer transfer window - improved after the interval.

Cristiano Ronaldo had the ball in the back of the net, but referee Mike Dean disallowed the effort, while the Portuguese was fortunate to avoid punishment when kicking out at Spurs centre-back Michael Dawson later in the half.

Substitute Ryan Giggs went close with a late free-kick, but the Welshman was denied by a fine save from home goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

With Arsenal and Liverpool failing to win earlier on, United had been presented with a perfect opportunity to stamp their presence on the championship picture before heading to Japan.Yet the visitors' attempts to break the Tottenham defence did not get them very far, even though Ledley King's frail knee prevented him from taking part and Jonathan Woodgate lasted just 10 minutes after coming off worst in a tackle with Carlos Tevez.

Ji-Sung Park and Michael Carrick both had shots deflected wide but Gomes, who Redknapp is persevering with despite a string of awful mishaps, was relatively untroubled until Rio Ferdinand forced him into a save in first-half stoppage time. Tottenham did not exactly lay siege to United's goal but at least they made Edwin van der Sar - who recently signed a new contract - work to keep them out.

The veteran Dutchman has just been awarded a new one-year contract, with Ferguson adding a ringing endorsement of his enduring ability.

Van der Sar backed up the assessment with a couple of excellent saves. The first denied Bentley, who flicked the ball up perfectly for a volley that had the Dutchman scrambling to make a low left-handed save.The keeper's next effort was even better as he palmed away a shot from Lennon, who had been allowed to get too near the United penalty area, then reacted quickly enough to block Roman Pavlyuchenko's follow-up.

Luka Modric then launched himself at Didier Zokora's inswinging cross but his diving header was just off target.

With Pavlyuchenko getting in the way of a Huddlestone piledriver, it was easy to see why the Spurs fans were disappointed their team were still being held at the break, although at least they could revel in the failure of Berbatov to make a significant contribution.

It took the 27-year-old just seven minutes of the second half to suggest he intended to be more of a threat, spinning superbly on halfway before embarking on a charge into the Spurs box that was only halted by Dawson's despairing lunge.

Ronaldo - another peripheral figure - had the ball in the net from the corner. The Ballon D'Or winner claimed it should have stood but referee Dean correctly ruled it out for handball.

It was the beginning of a long period of United pressure, although it took the introduction of Paul Scholes and Giggs to bring an air of real menace to their attacks.

Giggs supplied the cross from which Nemanja Vidic's header forced Gomes into his best save and the veteran Welshman was also responsible for the corner Ferdinand nodded over at the near post.

A goalmouth scramble that ended with Carrick driving a low shot at Gomes also came from Giggs' set piece delivery.

Park tested Gomes with a rasping drive but Van der Sar would have been beaten if Modric's shot had curled just under that bar after flicking off Ferdinand rather than just over it.

Two Ronaldo free-kicks brought no reward, which was probably why he left Giggs to take the last one and give Gomes the chance to be a hero.


Van der Sar
Rafael da Silva



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