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Spurs in form for United clash
Back to business for the English Premier League as Tottenham face a tough test.
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2009 17:20 GMT

Aaron Lennon was England's hero in their World Cup qualifiers [GALLO/GETTY]
Tottenham square up to their toughest English Premier League match so far this season with a weekend clash against defending champions Manchester United.

Spurs trail leaders Chelsea only on goal difference after opening the season with four straight wins, but manager Harry Redknapp's preparations for Saturday's meeting with the giants have been disrupted by a two-week break for World Cup qualifying.

At least most of his international players are coming back to him in good form.

Top performances

Winger Aaron Lennon was man-of-the-match in England's 5-1 World Cup qualifying win over Croatia, leading scorer Jermain Defoe struck for England at the weekend, striker Roman Pavlyuchenko scored to keep Russia on track for the finals and captain Robbie Keane got the winning goal in Ireland's 2-1 win at Cyprus.

"I have started the season well and just tried to carry on what I had been doing at Spurs for England,'' Lennon said.

Tottenham's record against the so-called "big four'' of United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal has been dismal since the Premier League began in 1992.

But over the past year, Spurs have beaten Liverpool three times, Chelsea once and are unbeaten in four games against Arsenal.

United trail the leading pair by three points but their own players are in form following the international break, with Wayne Rooney scoring again for England and Antonio Valencia scoring in Ecuador's 3-1 win at Bolivia.

But Darren Fletcher, Dimitar Berbatov, Jonny Evans, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra all return after disappointing results for their national teams.

Ferdinand back

The break did give defender Rio Ferdinand time to recover from the calf injury that kept him out of England's matches and he is likely to return from a month off at White Hart Lane.

"Rio has been in training this week and has a got a chance for Saturday,'' United manager Alex Ferguson said.

"I'm not sure how big a chance but he has got a chance.''

John O'Shea won't be available to play in defence, though, after he was hurt in Ireland's win over Cyprus.

"I think the England players are all right,'' Ferguson said.

"O'Shea has not trained. He came back with a calf injury from Ireland's game in Cyprus and is doubtful for Saturday so we will see what he's like.''

With Spurs defender Ledley King having had two weeks to rest his chronic knee problem, the only real problem for Redknapp is the absence of playmaker Luka Modric, who is out for about six weeks after breaking his leg in a 2-1 win over Birmingham two weeks ago.

That is likely to give Niko Kranjcar the opportunity to make his debut for Tottenham following his transfer deadline day move from Portsmouth.

Also on Saturday, fourth-placed Manchester City host seventh-place Arsenal.

Arsenal are aiming to recover from their first loss of the season - 2-1 at Manchester United - while City are protecting a record of three straight wins.

Big clash

EPL Fixtures

Saturday 12 September

 Blackburn v Wolves
 Liverpool v Burnley
 Man City v Arsenal
 Portsmouth v Bolton
 Stoke v Chelsea
 Sunderland v Hull
 Tottenham v Man Utd
 Wigan v West Ham

Sunday 13 September

 Birmingham v Aston Villa
 Fulham v Everton

City won the corresponding fixture 3-0 last season and, after investing heavily in their squad, are confident of a repeat.

"In a short period of time we have done really well to change people's perceptions of us,'' City manager Mark Hughes said.

"Some see us as a big threat to the so-called big four and we are quite comfortable with that.

"Their expectations, and their ability to deal with those expectations, is something they have been used to for a longer period than we have.

"That does not mean to say that we cannot overcome any of those clubs, because we have proved that we can.''

Source:
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