At this stage of the season, this match will be more important for the home side than it is for Tottenham. The visitors have been in spectacular form, which has seen them climb to second in the table and they currently look to be the biggest threat to Chelsea. On the other hand, Manchester City haven’t been convincing in recent weeks and have fallen out of the Champions League places. There are many doubting Pep Guardiola, especially in terms of his defensive coaching, but this was always going to be his most difficult job and he deserves time to get it right. That said, it is imperative that he qualifies for the Champions League next season or the rebuild will take significantly longer.
The home side haven’t been awful and there are signs that they could become a very good team under Guardiola, but they have struggled to keep up with the pace set by Chelsea. Last weekend was one of the worst defeats of the club’s recent history as they were thrashed 4-0 by an Everton side that is in transition. Although Everton were excellent finishers on the day, City’s defence wasn’t good enough and it is difficult to see them keeping a clean sheet against an in-form Tottenham. Ideally, they need to win this weekend and to do so, they will need to be a lot better than they have been recently.
Tottenham have won their last six matches, which is the longest winning streak of any team in the Premier League. Their defence has always been impressive, having conceded the fewest of any team this season (14). However, their attack had been a concern, until recently. During their six-match winning run, Spurs have scored 19 goals, which averages out at just over three per game. The change in formation has freed both Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, while last weekend Harry Kane returned to scoring ways with a hat-trick. They will be heading into this weekend as the favourites to win this match.
In the previous meeting between the two sides this season, Tottenham delivered one of their best performances of the campaign and ended up on the right side of a 2-0 scoreline. They managed to beat City without Harry Kane and this match underlined the impressive tactical mind of Mauricio Pochettino. A goal from Dele Alli and an own goal from Aleksandar Kolarov gave Tottenham the points on that occasion. Spurs also managed to win the corresponding fixture from last season, thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen. Manchester City’s did get on the score-sheet, with Kelechi Iheanacho finding the back of the net for the home side.
- Last weekend’s 4-0 defeat to Everton was the heaviest league defeat that Pep Guardiola has suffered in his managerial career.
- Harry Kane has reached 60 Premier League goals in just 99 matches, which is quicker than any other Tottenham player has reached the landmark.
The Belgian has been one of the standout players at Manchester City for a second season running and they will need all his quality for the remainder of the campaign. Even last weekend, he managed to play well and made a number of excellent passes that helped move his side into good positions. Although they didn’t manage to make the most of them, it was encouraging to see that De Bruyne continued to influence the match in a positive fashion, despite the team’s overall performance. Tottenham have been good defensively this season and City will need De Bruyne to be at his creative best if they are to get back to winning ways this weekend. He has the ability to unlock any defence and given Jan Vertonghen’s absence, there could be uncertainty to exploit in the Tottenham defence.
The English international returned to scoring form last weekend as he netted a hat-trick against West Brom, which should increase his confidence ahead of another huge match for Tottenham. They have moved themselves into a good position in the league table, but considering the strength of the top six this season, a loss this weekend could undo a lot of that good work. It will be difficult to go to the Etihad Stadium and pick up three points, despite City’s recent struggles. Tottenham managed to do it last season, but Pep Guardiola will want his side to respond after the poor showing against Everton. Kane is going to be central to Tottenham’s chances this weekend, as City are low on confidence defensively and he has the intelligence to exploit that. His movement will cause the City defence with a lot of problems and if he is on his game, Tottenham will have a good chance of winning this weekend.
Vincent Kompany is still getting back to full fitness and is unlikely to be risked in such a big game. City do desperately need him to return as soon as possible, but it is important not to rush him back as they have done in the past. Fernando is a doubt for this weekend with a knock. Meanwhile, Ilkay Gundogan is still out with a knee injury and unlikely to return anytime soon.
Tottenham were dealt with an enormous blow this week as their captain Jan Vertonghen is going to be missing for around two months with a knee injury. This could provide an opportunity for Kevin Wimmer to make a name for himself in the centre of defence. Erik Lamela won’t feature as he continues to struggle with a hip injury.
This is a difficult match to predict, as Tottenham are the favourites going into the weekend, but it would be foolish to back against Pep Guardiola pulling out a huge result. This is a man that is seen as one of the finest football managers in the world and although he has had a rough period, he will surely turn it around at some point and slowly develop Manchester City into a very good team. I will hedge my bets and predict a draw for this match. I think both teams will score, but neither will have enough to take the three points. A draw wouldn’t be the worse result for either side, but it could be devastating if City were to lose.