Louis van Gaal says the only difference between title-chasing Tottenham and Manchester United is that Mauricio Pochettino’s men have “more creative players.”
Spurs are pushing for their first league crown since 1961 and have earned praise throughout the campaign for their exhilarating play.
United by contrast are playing catch-up in the race for the fourth Champions League spot and have been regularly criticised for playing a dour and ponderous style of football. They were beaten 3-0 by Spurs less than a fortnight ago.
But Van Gaal – who acknowledges his side must beat Crystal Palace tonight to keep up the pressure in their bid for a Premier League top-four place – believes United are not far short of the highly-rated Londoners.
The Dutchman, whose side trail Spurs by 12 points, said: “We have beaten Tottenham 1-0 (earlier in the season) and until the 70th minute (of the last match) I think we were the better team, but then (there was) a mis-communication.
“So, I don’t think there is a lot of distance between Tottenham and Manchester United, but the distance is in points.
“They have won more, they are scoring more and that’s because they have more creative players.”
Such is the pressure in the challenge for fourth that Van Gaal has had to put thoughts of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Everton to one side. He accepts there is little margin for error and will select his side to face Palace at Old Trafford accordingly.
He said: “This game against Crystal Palace is very important. We have to win, we need to win, otherwise we cannot close the gap. It is too important to rotate for freshness for the semi-final.”