Reigning champions Manchester City face a stiff early test when they host Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (5.30pm live on Sky Sports).
Both teams got their Premier League campaigns off to a winning start last weekend. Man City thrashed West Ham 5-0 away from home, while Spurs recovered from a rocky first half to eventually overcome Aston Villa 3-1.
Saturday’s match is the toughest City will face in a relatively comfortable start to the season that will give them an opportunity to extend an early gap to the chasing pack. Both Liverpool and Spurs, their two most likely challengers, face at least three of last season’s top six (four in Liverpool’s case) across their first 10 fixtures. Man City face just one: Spurs.
The manner in which they made short work of West Ham suggested they are well-placed to begin the campaign with a string of positive results. Things were pretty even for the first 20 minutes or so, but once Gabriel Jesus put City ahead on 25 minutes, there was little doubt as to whom the victors would be. Raheem Sterling doubled their lead early into the second half and scored twice more, either side of a Sergio Aguero penalty, to grab a hat-trick.
There were a few minor signs of weakness in transition, with Rodrigo Hernandez not quite adjusting to the pace in his debut following his summer move from Atletico Madrid. It was otherwise a performance that made it clear that Pep Guardiola’s side rightfully remain the favourites, at heavily odds-on prices, to secure a third consecutive Premier League title.
The signing of Hernandez was one of three first-team additions that City made this summer, alongside right-back Joao Cancelo and the cheaper left-back Angelino, resigned from PSV Eindhoven. They rounded out and improved an already strong group of players who after last season’s domestic treble will also have greater progress in Europe in their sights.
It was Spurs who ended Man City’s Champions League aspirations last season. City have largely had the better of them over the last couple of years, winning all four of their league encounters in that time, but it was Spurs who triumphed on away goals when they met in the Champions League quarter-final following a 4-4 aggregate draw over the two legs.
In a somewhat strange campaign in which injuries and a lack of signings consistently forced coach Mauricio Pochettino to come up with different solutions to keep his team competitive, Spurs actually made it all the way through to the final, where they were defeated by Liverpool. That was combined with a fourth-place finish in the Premier League, their lowest since 2016, but nevertheless a fourth consecutive top-four finish.
Now fully settled into their new stadium and having bolstered their squad with a couple of big signings over the summer, Pochettino and his side will hope to combine a more consistent league campaign with another go at Europe. Midfield was a problem area for them last season, and in Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso, they have signed a pair of young and able solutions.
Ndombele had a mixed showing in the opening day win over Aston Villa, but it was his goal that levelled the scores on 73 minutes after much frustrated probing at the away defence. From there, Spurs, enlivened by the introduction from the bench of Christian Eriksen, powered on to victory through a pair of late strikes from Harry Kane.
With Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all having problems of one scale or another, Spurs look to be at least the third strongest team in the Premier League this season. Both the United Kingdom-licensed bookmakers and statistical modelling sites have them as the third favourites for the title. They finished 26 points shy of second-placed Liverpool last season, so they have some ground to make up on the top two, but Tottenham can be fancied to at least eat into it.
Our Preview’s Man City vs Tottenham Hotspur Betting Tips Verdict
Manchester City have had the better of recent league matches between these sides. Spurs are without the suspended Heung Min-Son, scorer of three of their four goals over the two legs of last season’s Champions League meeting.
If there is any early-season rustiness to be found in City, Spurs do have the talent to take advantage of it. Victory is a bit of a long shot, but they are capable of coming away with something or going close.
- Bet on Tottenham Hotspur +1.25 on an Asian Handicap @ 13/11 with BetVictor.
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