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Tottenham Focus - Central battles may determine Man City match

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By Alan Robins

Friday 19 April 2013

Tottenham entertain Manchester City in the early kick-off on Sunday with both teams looking for the points, City to maintain any slim hope they have of catching their city rivals, especially after Manchester United’s draw against West Ham on Wednesday. Spurs will be looking for the points to keep up the chase for a top four finish.

Mousa Dembele with Scott Parker and Gylfi Sigurdsson

The match will be City’s third in a week and fatigue already appeared to be showing against Wigan. By contrast Spurs have had 10 days’ rest, so should be fresher and will hope to welcome back Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe for selection, as well as possibly Gareth Bale.

André Villas-Boas has perhaps shown himself to be more tactically astute and flexible than Roberto Mancini with some of the Italian’s formations, selections and substitutions raising question marks over the City manager. However, with both teams likely to line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, it will be the mini-battles on the pitch where the match may be won or lost.

The Spurs defence will have to be focused despite Sergio Aguero being an injury doubt. Mancini may well start with Edin Dzeko - who has been a thorn in the Tottenham side in recent times - up front. Dzeko is likely to match up against Michael Dawson, who has led by example this season.

Spurs fans may also hope that Benoit Assou-Ekoto is recalled to the team. There should be a preference for their only specialist left-back in the squad to defend against City’s right flank and especially Pablo Zabaleta’s forward runs.

Whilst Emmanuel Adebayor should be motivated against his former team he will be up against the formidable Vincent Kompany. Ideally for Spurs he will be supported by both Bale and Lennon, who would carry a danger with their pace and fluidity. However, if Bale is unavailable, the question might be whether the livewire Lewis Holtby or the more robust Clint Dempsey would start in the hole behind the Togolese. Despite the American having less pace, his experience could be crucial against Matija Nastasic.

However, where the game may ultimately be decided is in midfield. Carlos Tevez will potentially start in the centre of City’s attacking midfield. Arguably City’s most influential player recently, the Argentinian may carry the biggest attacking threat.

Likely to support him from one of the holding roles will be Yaya Toure. Toure is an excellent midfielder. Strong, fast, powerful with the ability to break up play but also get forward and be a danger in the opposition box, he also has excellent passing ability.

For Spurs much will depend on Scott Parker and Mousa Demebelé, as well as Jan Vertonghen stepping forward from defence to intercept. Demebelé has shown his capability defensively this season and fans should be able to expect a typical sleeves rolled up performance.

If Spurs can win the midfield battle and get the ball forward quickly they can cause City’s defence problems. Do this enough and Mancini tends to become negative with defensive substitutions which will invite Spurs onto a deeper City line. It should be an intriguing fixture.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Tottenham v Man City

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