Tottenham Hotspur travel to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, to take on Manchester City in a mouth-watering prospect of a match. First vs third. The team that with their riches were expected to challenge for the title, against Spurs, arguably surprise title challengers, but who are challenging after a run of one loss in 19 games.
City struggled on Monday to get past a poor Wigan Athletic team, while Spurs two days earlier drew at home to Wolves. The signs may be encouraging for The Lilywhites. Since their loss to City in August, when Spurs have dropped points – the loss to Stoke and draws against Newcastle, Chelsea and Swansea – they have responded by winning their next game. Tottenham fans will hope this trend continues.
Both teams go into the match missing key players. Spurs’ striker Emmanuel Adebayor is ineligible against his parent club, whilst Manchester City are without both Toure brothers and Vincent Kompany. To make things worse, Mario Balotelli and particularly Micah Richards are doubts for the match. Spurs will possibly be without Ledley King, but there have been rumours this week that he may be available. Despite City’s squad depth, the loss of key players appears to have upset the team. The ground out win against Wigan was preceded by home losses to rivals Manchester United and Liverpool. YaYa Toure’s box to box presence, linking defence, midfield and attack looks to have been sorely missed in those defeats. More importantly, has Kompany’s suspension and the absence of the Koulo Toure left City looking vulnerable in defence? Stefan Savic may still be finding his feet in the Premier League and Joleon Lescott seemingly lacks the leadership of his usual partner. The defence gave Wigan chances and only 50% of their 32 clearances were successful. Also, City lost 31 of their 71 attempted tackles.
City manager, Roberto Mancini, should set his team to attack. With Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and David Silva there are the players to do so. However, Mancini’s team may be under certain pressures that will be to Spurs benefit. City are expected to be at the top, Spurs perhaps not. City will want three points to maintain the distance between Manchester United and Spurs themselves. Also a third home loss in succession to a top seven side may raise serious questions of the squad. With this and an understrength defence, perhaps Spurs may be the last team City would want to play.
Spurs should be a tough proposition. Despite drawing to Wolves, Harry Redknapp’s side created over 20 shots and whilst Adebayor will be missing, Jermain Defoe is always an adequate replace to come into any team. With Adebayor perhaps tiring in recent weeks and Defoe arguably a more clinical finisher, he may have an opportunity to make an argument to keep a place in the starting eleven. The pace of Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and the full backs on the flanks as well as the ability on the ball of Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric, should create chances for Tottenham against City’s uncertain looking defence.
Manchester City have won all their League home games this season. However, Spurs are the in-form team, arguably have the better defence and the attacking ability to end that run and close the gap at the top of the table to two points.
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