Manchester United and Tottenham cannot afford to keep slipping up in the race for the top four and their clash on New Year’s Day will be seen as the 'battle of the wannabes' as they hunt down the sides above them.
Both clubs are very much off the pace in the Premier League table right now and the match on Wednesday will be huge for the two sides, who each have 34 points on the board - eight off the pace.
United’s performances on the whole this season have been very, very poor and, on Saturday against Norwich, David Moyes’s side produced the worst 45 minutes I’ve seen from the club for many years.
United have been very lucky of late, grinding out some results in unconvincing fashion - they simply cannot rely on having that fortune for too much longer.
Equally, Spurs are talking about a resurgence under Tim Sherwood but I just don’t see it based on the approach he has taken to setting out his team so far in the job.
Quite simply, he is far too inexperienced to take on a job of this magnitude and I believe that the old-fashioned tactics will prove to be pretty naive in the long term against sides that will see right through his direct, attacking style.
Trying to play two strikers is far too predictable against the best sides and it is not going to work for Spurs over the course of the season. Given the wealth of talented midfielders they have bought, it seems pretty misjudged.
He is clearly trying to appease everyone at the moment by accommodating previously out-of-favour players. There is a tendency for that kind of coach to succeed and improve morale in the short term, but it is very rarely sustainable.
To beat a very depleted Stoke side was nothing to boast about and Sherwood should not take anything from that because they were always going to win that game with the players they have in the squad.
His appointment was a massive gamble by the north London club because you are talking about a very inexperienced manager who lacks a lot when it comes to leading a team at the highest level with everything that comes along with that.
Given the money Spurs invested over the summer, they would have thought they had a chance of challenging for the title, but now everything has unravelled and they have ended up with a bizarre choice of boss.
These are the two most flamboyant teams in the Premier League going right back into the history of the clubs and both will be looking to entertain as usual. I think United will cope better with that under Moyes
I simply cannot see United losing at home to Spurs this time but they have to eradicate the atrocious defensive decisions that have plagued their season so far.
To be perfectly honest, United have been disgraceful so far this season in the full-back areas and they need to make sure that they improve if Spurs are going to set out to play wide and supply crosses for the two strikers.
Moyes has finally managed to get his grip on the United squad and recently they have produced a few tight wins that have been crucial to them just about staying in touch with the top four.
It would be harsh to blame United’s transfer debacle over the summer entirely on Moyes, but he will really have to deliver in January and at the end of the season if he is to repair the initial damage.
At the moment, Moyes has a pretty desperate collection of fringe and squad players under him but he has the opportunity to develop the squad and bring in the players that he feels can really take them on to another level.
Moyes deserves the opportunity to buy the best players he can and to put his own mark on what is a squad littered with issues and weaknesses, but beating Tottenham will be important for their status in the transfer window.