Our footy scribe previews the EPL blockbuster between Manchester City and Tottenham.
Tottenham will be hoping to keep the pressure on leaders Chelsea when they travel to fifth-placed Manchester City on Saturday. Spurs are aiming to secure a seventh consecutive Premier League victory while City are looking to bounce back from a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Everton last weekend.
Tottenham will be keen to lay down a marker against another direct rival and, having beaten City at home earlier in the season, will be brimming with confidence.
English Premier League | Saturday 21 January | Etihad Stadium | 19:30
To Win (90 Mins)
Manchester City 11/10 | Draw 24/10 | Tottenham 47/20
After four defeats in their last eight matches, Pep Guardiola’s team will be looking to find some consistency as they aim to repair the damage of last Sunday’s defeat. City are struggling to live up to their hype and not only are their title aspirations hanging in the balance, but they’re in danger of slipping out of the top four.
Guardiola’s side require a positive result against Spurs to keep pace with the top four. Missing out on the Champions League next season would be unthinkable at the Etihad. Guardiola was brought to Manchester with the intention of making City a significant European force and lifting the club’s global profile.
The Sky Blues have conceded a goal from the first shot they have faced in four of their last seven games. And fingers are starting to be pointed firmly in the direction of John Stones and Claudio Bravo. Stones, who arrived for a whopping £47million from Everton, has struggled far too often, looking uncertain with Guardiola’s defensive set-up and error-prone.
Likewise, Bravo is making the loan departure of Joe Hart to Torino look like a huge mistake. The Chilean goalkeeper has conceded 14 goals from the last 22 shots on target he has faced in the Premier League, which is worse than any other keeper in the top flight.
Guardiola’s insistence on playing the ball out from the goalkeeper through the defence often transmits uncertainty and opposition managers know to press high up the field to unsettle the City players. Yet Guardiola won’t abandon it.
City have world-class attackers that can hurt Spurs such as David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero but defence is their main problem. Both Stones and Nicolas Otamendi need to improve if they are to stop the free-scoring Harry Kane.
Fernandinho is still suspended and continues to serve his four-match ban after his second Premier League red card of the season. Fernando could return to the squad while Ilkay Gundogan and Vincent Kompany remain sidelined.
Tottenham sent out a serious statement of intent as they powered past West Brom 4-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Kane, with the three points lifting Spurs up to second in the Premier League and seven points behind leaders Chelsea.
Spurs have found their stride in recent weeks and appear to be primed to fight for the title during the second half of the season. They earned plenty of praise as they beat Chelsea 2-0 at White Hart Lane earlier this month to boost their Premier League title hopes.
The Argentine boss will be hoping his side can continue their fine form on Saturday. Victory for Spurs will see Mauricio Pochettino become the first manager to do the double over Guardiola in the Premier League.
Spurs have beaten City in their last three Premier League meetings, with a 2-0 win coming in the reverse fixture back in October. Pochettino’s side remain seven points adrift of leaders Chelsea but have won six games on the bounce in recent weeks, scoring 19 and conceding just three goals in the process. They’ve also conceded just 14 goals in the league and go to the Etihad brimming with confidence.
Spurs look capable of pushing for the title right to the end and if they are to break their 55-year drought, they will do so on the shoulders of their star striker, Kane. The 23-year-old is in top form, netting 13 goals in 13 games since his return from injury. He’ll be hoping to counter on City’s defensive frailties.
With Jan Vertonghen picking up an ankle injury in last Saturday’s win over West Brom, Pochettino could revert back to the 4-2-3-1 formation and play Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld as a centre-back pairing. This could see Heung-Min Son come back in to side on the left of an attacking trio behind Kane. Erik Lamela is expected to be ruled out with the Argentine winger still struggling to shake off a hip problem.
Verdict: Tottenham Win/Draw Double Chance (13/20)
Tottenham are in a rich vein of form and it’s going to take something special to beat them. City suffered their heaviest defeat under Guardiola last time out and will be targeting a fourth straight home win. I’m backing Spurs on the Win/Draw Double Chance here as City have been shambolic in defence.
Written by Chadley Nagel for @Hollywoodbets