An enormously intriguing final encounter of the Premier League weekend sees Manchester City look to recover from their humbling last time out and move back ahead of upwardly mobile Tottenham in the title race.
Right from the first whistle, Manuel Pellegrini’s side looked a little rattled when they came up against Leicester City, going behind early on and then being picked apart in eyecatching fashion after the break to lose convincingly. It was a massively below-par display, and one that saw them slip to fourth and means they now have a considerable amount of ground to make up in this season’s title race, which for a club of their attacking talent and riches, is far from respectable.
Leading scorer Sergio Aguero was able to add another goal to his tally, but he was kept quiet for much of the afternoon, as were David Silva and Raheem Sterling. They are unlikely here to get much change out of the Premier League’s strongest defensive unit, so City must find a way to restore tempo to their play and to be more competitive at the back. The absence of Vincent Kompany was always going to be challenging for his teammates, but none of them have yet stepped up to the mark.
The visitors are now sitting very pretty in second, and must surely now be sensing at least a slight chance of making a bid to win the league for the first time since 1961. If they can nullify Man City’s attacking players and pick them off at the other end in the same manner that Leicester did, it would be another huge statement from this overwhelmingly young team that they certainly mean business, and also go a long way to convincing themselves that they can achieve it.
This will represent a bigger test than what they received in their last game at home to Watford, where goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was a virtual spectator. For all their dominance and shots on goal, Spurs only managed the one goal as fine goalkeeping so often denied them, but the standout feature of the match was the influence of the two full-backs. Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier were an integral part of their attacking play, with the latter making the decisive contribution.
Kompany may at least be able for return for Man City at long last, but they will be without Fabian Delph and Bacary Sagna.
Dele Alli is expected to be restored to the Tottenham starting line-up, while Kevin Wimmer will continue to play at centre-back in place of the injured Jan Vertonghen.
Played for both – Emmanuel Adebayor: Best known for his successful spell at Arsenal, the Togolese striker joined Man City in the summer of 2009, but struggled to hold down a place in the team due to his relationship with the coaching staff and left for Tottenham – initially on loan – after scoring 15 goals in 34 league games. He was again in and out of the side at White Hart Lane, finding the net 35 times in 92 outings.