The fortunes of these two sides have changed since their first meeting of the season. Tottenham won the first fixture 2-0, with goals from Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. It was an excellent display of counter attacking football and despite their lack of possession, it was a comfortable victory for Jose Mourinho’s side. Following this, they were spoken about as title contenders and some were doubting Pep Guardiola’s ability to go again with Manchester City’s current squad. Since then, Spurs have flattered to deceive and find themselves with an uphill battle to finish in the top four. Meanwhile, City have established a healthy lead and look like they will saunter to a third title win under their Spanish manager.
At the time of writing, Manchester City have a five point lead over their city rivals Manchester United, with a game in hand. They look capable of running away with the league, in a season when few expected a team to triumph with comfort. After a disappointing 12 months, City look back to their mechanical best. Every player knows their role and they have been excellent at both ends of the pitch. They have the third best attack, but it is at the back that they have been far and beyond the best. Guardiola’s men have conceded just 14 times. The next best defence being their opposition this weekend, who have conceded 22 times. This underlines how effective Manchester City have been.
Jose Mourinho can only wish for the defensive quality currently being showcased by his long term rival Guardiola. Throughout his career, the Portuguese coach has been known for his ability to organise, with his teams being difficult to break down. Although Tottenham have the second best defensive record in the Premier League, they conceded five times during the week in an FA Cup defeat to Everton. The performance was encouraging in attack, as Spurs created a lot of clear-cut opportunities, even before Harry Kane’s introduction. However, they were vulnerable at the back, with several individual errors. If they perform at a similar level on Saturday, it will be difficult for them to get a positive result.
In the calendar year of 2021, Manchester City have only conceded two Premier League goals, one of which came from the penalty spot.
Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane have each scored 13 Premier League goals, which is 36% of the team’s goals respectively. Only Dominic Calvert Lewin (38%) and Callum Wilson (40%) have scored a higher percentage of their team’s Premier League goals this season.
It is shaping up to be a breakthrough season for Ilkay Gundogan in the Premier League, as he is establishing himself as one of the best players in the division. Pep Guardiola has always been a big fan of the German midfielder, but he wasn’t seen as anything more than a solid squad player to those on the outside. Following the injury to Kevin de Bruyne, he has stepped up into a prominent role in the team and his recent form is very impressive. He has scored six goals in his last six Premier League matches, which takes his season total to nine. This ranks him as City’s top goalscorer in the Premier League. The 30-year-old has been taking up excellent positions in the final third, as he is regularly making late runs into the box to support attacks. His previous best Premier League season for goals came in 2018/19 when he scored six times. The change in his game has benefitted Manchester City. As Spurs will look to set up deep and frustrate Manchester City, the late surging runs of Gundogan could have a big part to play.
There were some concerns about Jose Mourinho’s decision to bring Harry Kane back into the starting eleven against West Brom. Many believed it to be a desperate move from a manager under pressure. However, it was an encouraging performance from Kane, as he was the best player on the pitch and looked to be moving comfortably. The England captain had five shots and made two key passes. He opened the scoring, but on another day, he would have had a hat-trick. There was some rustiness in front of goal, but he still managed to get on the score-sheet. During the week, he had a really lively sub appearance against Everton, as he attempted ten shots in roughly 70 minutes on the pitch, one of which found the back of the net. Kane looks ready to have a strong finish to the season and he will be the player that Manchester City fear most.
Ruben Dias and Fernandinho are both major doubts for the weekend after sitting out of the FA Cup tie against Swansea City. Rodri was taken off early against the Welsh side and he will be a doubt. Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne are both back in training, but they are unlikely to be risked against Tottenham.
Serge Aurier is a doubt for the visiting side, with Matt Doherty on standby to start at right-back. Sergio Reguilon and Giovani Lo Celso are both a couple of weeks away from a return to action. Gareth Bale didn’t feature in the matchday squad against Everton, with doubts about his relationship with Jose Mourinho persisting.
Tottenham supporters will be worried about their defensive issues against Everton, but there were encouraging signs in attack. They will be hoping to see a similar approach against Manchester City. It is more likely that Mourinho returns to the style that saw success against City earlier in the season. However, they are coming up against a much better City team and that will be obvious on Saturday. It should be a comfortable home win.
Manchester City 2-0 Tottenham