Preamble Hello. Spurs have busted some major ghosts under Harry Redknapp. They have won at Arsenal for the first time since 1993; they've won a league game at Anfield for the first time since 1993; they've beaten Chelsea in consecutive league seasons for the first time since 1990; they've played in the European Cup for the first time since 1962; they've stopped buying complete donkeys for huge fees. Now they are in with a great chance of finishing as the highest London club for the first time since 1995 – particularly if they beat Manchester United for the first time since 2001 at White Hart Lane this afternoon.
Spurs' Premier League record against United is nothing short of pathetic: P39 W3 D8 L28 Pts 17. Despite that, United would surely be happy enough with a draw today. It would leave them four points behind Manchester City, but this is the last of a really tough run of fixtures. And the next eight league games are eminently winnable.
It would have seem absurd at 2.09pm last Sunday, but Spurs also have one eye on their local rivals. If they lose today they will be only four points ahead of Arsenal, and squeaky-bum time will have officially begun.
Kick off is at 4.10pm. 4.10pm!
Pre-match reading Here's an old Joy of Six on this fixture. It includes Eric Cantona, George Best, Gary Lineker and, yep, Pedro Mendes.
Spurs haven't beaten United since 2001. This much we know. What's often forgotten is that it was a bit of a dead rubber, on the last day of the season. In a sense, Spurs' last win over United was the raucous 3-1 victory in 1999-2000. It was the first time United had lost a Premier League after scoring first. Paul Scholes scored an own goal, while Steffen Iversen and Stephen Carr scored the greatest goals of their careers.
Team news Welsh superhero Gareth Bale isn't fit, not even for the bench. He has a virus, apparently. Luka Modric may play from the left instead. Both teams are without their bionic wingers, because Antonio Valencia is not fit for United. Wayne Rooney does return, with Ashley Young surprisingly preferred to Ryan Giggs. Louis Saha and Michael Carrick play against their former clubs. Dimitar Berbatov doesn't; he's not in the squad.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2) Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Livermore, Sandro, Modric; Adebayor, Saha.
Subs: Cudicini, Giovani, Defoe, Dawson, Kranjcar, Rose, Nelsen.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) De Gea; Jones, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Scholes; Nani, Rooney, Young; Welbeck.
Subs: Amos, Anderson, Giggs, Park, Hernandez, Fabio, Rafael.
Referee Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
You know how good Ryan Gosling looks in Drive? You know how cool that jacket is? Well, don't. Just don't.
It's not football. But look at this catch.
3.47pm "In the other MBM Steinberg proposed to soundtrack Wolves' performance with the Benny Hill theme tune, the sarcy devil," says Phil Podolsky. "Other apposite footballing soundtracks? I'd love to see Iniesta shimmy and glide to this."
If that's not inviting an Aldi-cheap gag, then I don't know what is: here's one for David Luiz.
Does anyone need a flatmate? Don't worry, it's not Tom Lutz. A friend of a friend is working in London for six months and needs somewhere near or with decent transport links to Canary Wharf. I've never met him but I completely vouch for, er, his mate. If you know of anywhere that might be available from mid-April, send me an email and I'll forward it on to him. NB: guardian.co.uk is not legally responsible should he turn out to be a malodorous deviant with a liking for Creme de Menthe breakfasts and raw Crispy Pancakes.
1 min United kick off from left to right. They're in red; Spurs are in white.
2 min "Surely it's every close up of Giggs that should be accompanied by the Benny Hill theme tune," says Rolf Mellander. "Surely."
3 min Modric is playing from the left, as we expected. Spurs haven't really seen the ball yet, with United moving it around confidently. Assou-Ekotto and Jones were down for a few seconds after a tangle of legs, but they seem fine now.
4 min There's a breezy, open feel to the game at the moment. United in particular have looked sharp in possession.
5 min Saha drags a tame shot straight at De Gea from 15 yards.
6 min Welbeck falsenines his way into the space to receive a pass from Scholes. He turns, runs at and then past Kaboul before thrashing a shot high and wide from 20 yards. Moments later, Adebayor does almost the same thing at the other end, dropping deep to receive and driving over the bar from 20 yards.
8 min Sandro goes through Scholes from the side, a tackle for which some referees would have produced a yellow card.
9 min Nani's pass from the right wing is swept first-time towards goal by Rooney on the edge of the box, but it's straight at Friedel. He throws it straight to Lennon, who makes a piercing diagonal at the heart of the United defence before he is stopped by Evans on the edge of the box. That was a vital challenge.
10 min "Is that a different colour ball they're using today?" says Simon Drake. Yep, it's white. They'd been using yellow till this weekend.
12 min A bit of a lull, with Tottenham having a fair bit of the ball in their own half.
14 min So far this match has been a bit of a tease. Lots of nice passing; lots of flirting, fluttering of eyelashes and running of fingers through hair. But nothing more than that.
15 min Lennon, who has often given Evra agita down the years, looks sharp.
17 min After a good start from United, Spurs are now the dominant side, even if all of their play has been in front of the United defence.
18 min I'm still not convinced this was over the line, you know. I'd like to see it from another angle.
19 min De Gea makes a good save to deny Adebayor. It started with a poor kick from De Gea thaat Sandro headed forward to Adebayor. He ran at Evans, into the area, and then opened his body out to pass the ball low towards the far corner. De Gea got down to this left to push it away.
20 min As is often the case in big games away from home, United look a bit like a team waiting to concede. There is very little purpose or urgency in their passing, and Spurs are well on top now.
22 min Lennon roasts Evra down the right and drives in a low cross that ricochets around the box dangerously for a couple of seconds before it is booted clear.
25 min "Can we assume from the white ball that winter and the possibility of snow is now over?" says Richard Harris. "It will save an awful lot of time wasted tramping round the countryside looking for daffodils and skylarks if the Premier League can decide when spring has arrived."
27 min Nani beats Assou-Ekotto with a lovely bodyswerve, but – and stop me if you think etcetera – his cross is poor.
28 min Jones is booked after bundling Saha over on the edge of the box. The free-kick is a fair way to the left of centre. It's set up for Kaboul, whose blast was going wide but was deflected for a corner by Welbeck in the wall.
29 min The corner is half cleared, and when Modric puts it back into the area Rooney dives in front of De Gea to head clear.
31 min I suppose you could use the phrase "sterile domination" to describe Spurs' first-half performance, but they have been much the better team.
32 min "Are you and Jacob Steinberg an item?" says Arsene Hanciyan. Yes. And?
33 min United haven't managed to get Rooney in the game, while Sandro and Livermore have done well against Scholes and Carrick.
34 min Saha snakes away from Carrick and Scholes, eventually moving the ball to Lennon on the right. His chipped cross is nutted clear by Ferdinand.
35 min We thought one of these teams would miss their bionic winger – and it's true, United aren't the same team without Antonio Valencia.
36 min A dangerous low cross from Jones – he is a superb crosser of the ball – is put behind for a corner by Ledley King. Young drives it low towards the near post, where Rooney gets a run on his marker and flicks the ball straight at Friedel. White Hart Lane has seen that corner routine a million times before with Anderton and Sheringham.
37 min Adebayor has a goal disallowed for handball. The excellent Lennon roasted Jones down the left and passed the ball along the face of the six-yard box. De Gea palmed it out and it came to Saha, who knocked the loose ball straight towards goal from eight yards. His shot hit Adebayor – who was almost on the goalline – on the chest and then the arm, after which he helped it into the net. Spurs are seriously aggrieved but he certainly handled it.
40 min "During an interview with Defoe on the radio today," begins Marek Miernik, "the somewhat alarming fact surfaced that thanks to yoga Brad Friedel can do the splits."
41 min Somewhere in the bowels of White Hart Lane, a hairdryer is being connected to a plug socket. United have been poor.
44 min Sandro is booked, as much for repeat offending as anything I suspect, after a foul on Ashley Young. The Spurs fans are booing at the referee, but he's got almost everything right in this half. Why the hell would you want to be a referee? They get even more abuse than Guardian sport writers!
GOAL! Spurs 0-1 Manchester United (Rooney 45) Smash/grab. United take the lead in the last minute of the first half. Young booms over a really good inswinging corner from the left, and Rooney gets away from Walker to head down and into the net from six yards. It's hard to know what's more shocking: the defending of Walker, who Rooney was able to lose far too easily, or the fact United have actually scored a real goal from a set piece.
45+1 min "Poor eh?" says Lawrence McGinty of my comment in the 41st minute, as if a goal somehow erases what has gone before.
Half time: Spurs 0-1 Manchester United The half-time whistle prompts boos from the crowd and complaints from Ledley King to the referee. They are right to be aggrieved about the scoreline, but not necessarily the refereeing.
The Adebayor handball I'm still not sure whether it was deliberate or not. The strange thing is that, although the laws make no distinction between penalising attackers and defenders for handball, they are generally judged differently. Defenders are usually only punished for deliberate handball, certainly in their own area, whereas attackers are generally punished for any type of handball. That's probably a subconscious distinction between the severity of the punishment, which has then been reinforced by decades of precedent. The difference today is that the punishment for Spurs was as severe – even more severe, in fact – than a penalty against them. So maybe it wasn't the right decision after all. That said, Adebayor may have done it deliberately; I only saw a couple of replays.
On Sky, Graeme Souness and Gary Neville think the Spurs goal should have been given, because Adebayor could not get his hand out of the way. It certainly wasn't deliberate – Adebayor was backing away, trying to avoid the ball, when it hit his outstretched left hand. By the laws of the game I think it's a goal, although I suspect nine out of ten referee cats would have made the same decision as Martin Atkinson.
46 min Spurs kick off the second half. They just need to do what they did in the first half, with a bit of added netbothering.
47 min Gary Neville said at half-time that Phil Jones might be replaced by Rafael as he is on a yellow card and struggling. Neville knows the perils of being a right-back on a yellow card at White Hart Lane. At this stage of his career Jones isn't actually very good at defending, is he? I thought Rafael would start, as he's a better defender and has done well against Bale in the past.
48 min "I've never understood the problems people have with handball," says Brad McMillian. "For me, it should be simple. If a player gains an advantage by using his hand, it's a foul, and a free-kick. Accidents happen, so it shouldn't be a booking unless it was deliberate. The 'ball to hand' defence is nonsense, Adebayor gained an advantage, and whether he intended to or not is irrelevant (I think it was accidental, so not a booking.)" There's a certain logic in that, but if you apply it to defenders in their own penalty area you would have two or three penalties per match.
52 min An outstanding save from David de Gea keeps United ahead. Livermore's low 20-yard shot took a deflection off Saha and De Gea, who would have seen the original shot late because of a crowd of bodies, dived low to his right to get a strong wrist on the ball and keep it out. De Gea e is far from the best goalkeeper in the league, but his reflexes are as good as anyone's in the league. That save reminded me of one Tim Howard made at Rangers in 2003, if you remember the game: superb reactions and a really strong wrist.
54 min "I'm supposed to dislike Man U (as a Liverpool fan and ABU) but like Gene Hackman with Danny Glover in the Royal Tenenbaums it's impossible not to respect them," says Niall Mullen. "They are, to paraphrase that movie, everything Liverpool are not. They just know how to win. Damn them!" But have you ever talked some jive to them?
55 min Some people are of the opinion that Manchester United's Vidic-less defence can be bullied physically, and Adebayor has done that at times today.
57 min Lennon plays a nice one-two with Adebayor and blasts in a cross that is cleared for a corner. Spurs are all over United, and moments later Evra is penalised for a clumsy foul on Modric 25 yards from goal. The free-kick is to the left of centre, so you would expect Assou-Ekotto to take it.
58 min Assou-Ekotto does take it, curving a good effort that just shaved the top of the bar. De Gea did have it covered, however, and took his hands away at the last minute.
59 min Adebayor falls over in the box after a challenge from Ferdinand, who tells Adebayor to get up and is told to eff off in return. I think it was the right decision by Martin Atkinson. United desperately need some respite, though; at the moment they can't keep the ball for more than three or four passes.
GOAL! Tottenham 0-2 Manchester United (Young 60) This is a scandalous scoreline. Absolutely scandalous. Modric went to sleep when United got a throw in down the right. Nani ran off him to receive the throw in the area and guide the ball across the face of goal. It was half cleared from under his own bar by Walker, but Young, on the left side of the six-yard box, contorted his body splendidly to scissor-volley the loose ball past a phalanx of players on the line and into the far corner. That's a very good finish.
61 min Ryan Giggs replaces Paul Scholes, who found the pace a bit too much today.
62 min More exhilarating wingplay from Lennon. He beats Evra with ease and chips a ball beyond the far post, where Assou-Ekotto, 15 yards from goal, screws a volley back whence it came.
63 min "There may well be logic in Brad McMillan's handball reasoning (48 min), but it's not what it says in the laws," says Roy Allen. "f he wants to invent his own sport with his own laws then, fine. But if he's interested in football, he has to stick to the laws which state that handball has to be deliberate or it isn't handball."
64 min Spurs could have sulked at the injustice of it all, but they have simply picked up where they left off before the second goal. What a strange game.
65 min Since you didn't ask, yes we have done a Joy of Six on smash-and-grab victories. The Inter/Sampdoria match remains the most dramatic I've ever seen, and you really should set aside 10 minutes to watch the highlights later today.
66 min Assou-Ekotto hits a well controlled volley from 30 yards but it's straight at De Gea.
68 min "There's something very peculiar going on here," says Chris Kempshall. "I thought the support of 'Arry for England manager was based on an expectation that he might bring his club form into the job. Instead he seems to be slowly turning Spurs into England with each passing week." England don't play this well when they win, never mind when they lose.
GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 0-3 Manchester United (Young 69) Ashley Young scores a glorious goal. Evra found him in a bit too much space, 25 yards from goal; Young moved the ball infield, used the advancing Kaboul as a screen and set a quite majestic curler into the far top corner. Friedel had no chance. It was very similar to his first goal against Arsenal in the 8-2 last August. Young has scored four brilliant goals against north London's finest this season. Some would say he's done bugger all else, but we'll leave that for another day.
70 min Now, finally, Spurs do go into a little sulk, with United able to play keepball for a couple of minutes. You can't blame Spurs. They have been much the better side and they are 3-0 down.
72 min Spurs are only four points ahead of Arsenal, you know. Surely the worst Arsenal side for 15 years couldn't finish above the best Spurs side for 25 years. Could they?
73 min "Harry for England" chant the United supporters.
74 min I would advise you not to make any plans for the evening of Monday 30 April. I know modern football is tediously overhyped, but it's probably fair to assume that it will be the biggest Manchester derby of them all.
75 min Spurs have now stopped sulking and are playing some decent stuff again, although it lacks some of the conviction of their earlier work. Modric's free kick from the left is punched away unconvincingly by De Gea and blootered clear by Jones.
76 min "Looks like 'Arry's team are falling apart two thirds of the way through a tournament," says Gary Naylor. "He really does have his name of the England job doesn't he?"
77 min "I'm not sure you can call this a scandalous scoreline, Rob," says Sean Moore. "Sure, Tottenham were the better team in the first half and had most of the possession, but what did they do with it? De Gea only had a couple of real saves to make. United have defended well, and been patient. It's paying off in spades right now... I also don't agree that DeGea is "far" from being the best goalkeeper in the league - he's been superb since Lindegaard's injury, and is absolutely one of the best keepers in the league." I'd say he's far too weak on set pieces to be regarded as one of the best at this stage, but it's been obvious from the first month that he has the capacity to become a true great. His potential is insane. As for the game, hmmm, I don't know if I agree. You say United were patient, but their ball-retention was hopeless from the 10th minute to Young's third goal.
79 min Ji-sung Park replaces Nani for Manchester United, while Spurs bring on Jermain Defoe and Nico Kranjcar for Louis Saha and Sandro.
80 min "Has John Terry ruined Spurs' season?" says Chuck Schick. "He allegedly said some pretty nasty stuff. The FA said he couldn't be England captain until after the court case. Capello said 'that's my job, screw your stupid blazer'. Redknapp became the first choice for the job and hasn't done a great deal to damp the speculation. This is all Terry's fault, isn't it?" Everything is, isn't it?
81 min I should have said earlier that we are having problems with the auto-refresh tool, so if the descriptions of the goals have not appeared, just press F5.
82 min Nothing is happening. Both teams would be happy to call time on the game now.
83 min Spurs make their last substitution, with Danny Rose coming on for the superb Aaron Lennon.
GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 1-3 Manchester United (Defoe 87) Spurs get a consolation goal. A poor pass from Giggs went to Defoe, who ran to within 25 yards of goal and swooshed it past the unsighted De Gea.
88 min Evans is booked for a foul on someone or other.
89 min "Whenever I hear Stereolab's 'French Disko' I like picture Vieira & Petit owning Premiership midfielders," says Matt Keeler. "Rugged and fluid. If only 99% of YouTube football clips compilers had decent music taste eh?" What do you mean?
90 min Everton did score twice in injury time to draw 3-3 against United last season, though it's hard to see it happening here. There are three minutes of added time.
90+1 min "Who," says Michael Ryan, "is the best goalie in the league in your opinion?" Joe Hart, although I think De Gea and Gomes have the best reflexes.
Full time: Tottenham Hotspur 1-3 Manchester United This is a huge result for Manchester United. They were outplayed for much of the game – Spurs had 14 shots to United's six and 57 per cent of the possession – but they defended well and two brilliant goals from Ashley Young ended the game after 69 minutes. United are now two points behind Manchester City, with an easier run-in. It's shaping up to be one of the better title races of the Premier League era. Thanks for your emails; night.