Man City and Spurs emerge from their midweek matchups in widely differing fashion. The two teams return to English shores one with their heads held high, while the other has to question its own integrity.
City have the deserved honour of becoming the first English team to defeat Shakhtar Donetsk at home, while Spurs faltered in the final minutes against an in-form PSV Eindhoven outfit.
The two teams go up against each other on Monday night when Spurs welcome the Sky Blues to their makeshift home at Wembley. Both teams are looking to build on last season’s successful league campaigns. City won the title with a record points tally and breaking the 100 points mark, and Spurs once again succeeded in claiming a highly prized Champions League spot with a top three finish.
But it’s precisely that prestigious entry into Europe’s elite competition that is causing Tottenham trouble. It’s not going well and Mauricio Pochettino has already suggested that Spurs Champions League campaign is nearly over. Although Spurs fans have rightly used their participation in the competition as a mark of progress, now might be the time to abandon their European campaign in favour of the Premier League.
It sounds crazy considering that many football fans would give their right arm to see their team compete in the Champions League, but it simply doesn’t look like Spurs can hack it on two fronts, and we’re not even halfway into the season yet.
Spurs have only managed to claim a paltry one point from three games played in the Champions League group stage so far despite a number of betting tips consistently and reasonably backing them. True, they’ve been placed into what some would traditionally determine a ‘group of death’, alongside Barcelona, Inter Milan, as well as a PSV Eindhoven side that shouldn’t be underestimated.
But it was that very underestimation that cost them a vital three points on Wednesday night against what should be considered their weakest opposition in the Champions League. Naivety is another issue, with Spurs putting in commendable performances against both Inter and Barcelona, only to squander their chances in the final few minutes.
A lack of reinforcements is another problem that will begin to take effect on Spurs’ squad as the season progresses. Maybe it would be a smart idea to cut their losses in Europe, conserve their resources and focus on the domestic front where they’re doing well.
In reality, only two points separate Spurs from City and their recent record against the Mancunians is impressive, as pointed out in this preview. City and Spurs have both claimed two victories in the last five matches and contested a draw. Although it feels like they’re both heading in opposing directions right now, they’re actually not.
After a rocky period that saw back to back defeats against Liverpool and Watford in early September, Spurs have bounced back with four consecutive victories, only conceding one goal in the process.
Along with Liverpool, Manchester City represent their biggest obstacle in the league this season so far, and their performance on Monday night should act as a barometer of where they stand on the domestic front.
Pep Guardiola has not unreasonably claimed that City can ‘control their own destiny’. The Catalan’s side are capable of consistently controlling games, but it doesn’t feel like Spurs are. Putting all their eggs in the Premier League basket would go a considerable way to earning results against their main competitors, and maintaining their position in the top four of English football.
By Adam Grimshaw