Manchester City thrashed Tottenham Hotspur in both meetings last season but may find the going a little tougher when they host the London club at the Etihad on Saturday (12:45pm BST, live on BT Sport).
City have made a solid start to their title defence and are second in the early Premier League table skirmishes with 14 points from four wins, two draws and one defeat. They scored twice in the final 10 minutes of play to defeat Aston Villa prior to the international break.
Manuel Pellegrini’s (pictured) side dominated possession, territory and the shot count against their defensively aligned hosts. Villa blocked numerous efforts on goal, while their goalkeeper Brad Guzan made five saves from shots on target from inside the area. It took superb finishes from Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero to eventually break their resistance.
With the exception of Eliaquim Mangala, who in time will become a regular at centre-back, City’s summer transfer business was primarily designed to provide Pellegrini with more options. The effectiveness of that strategy is unlikely to become apparent until the latter part of the campaign, but the first XI currently looks to be of similar quality to last season.
That is not a bad thing. City won the league title after scoring more goals (102) than any other side, while conceding fewer (37) than all but Chelsea. Aguero can stake a claim to being the league’s best striker, while Toure, David Silva and Vincent Kompany are all excellent players. Whether it is enough to hold off a resurgent Chelsea remains to be seen.
Pellegrini will definitely be without the injured Samir Nasri (groin) for Saturday’s match, while Fernandinho (hamstring) is doubtful. Toure was left out of the squad following the last international break and could again be rested after turning out for Ivory Coast on Wednesday.
Tottenham have made a decent start to the season under the stewardship of new coach Mauricio Pochettino. They are sixth in the table, with 11 points from three wins, two draws and two defeats. They recorded a 1-0 win over Southampton in their last league fixture.
Spurs edged a tight match against Pochettino’s former employers, securing victory courtesy of a goal from Christian Eriksen just before half time. The visitors did create a couple of good chances, but Spurs performed solidly throughout and also struck the post. The increased energy they displayed in the draw away to Arsenal the week previous was again in evidence.
Pochettino has appeared somewhat reticent to employ the same tactics that were so successful for him at Saints in his early months at Spurs. He is still evaluating the capabilities of his squad and it will clearly take time to implement his energetic, high-pressing style. But against both Arsenal and Southampton they were certainly glimpses of it.
The attacking midfield line is showing signs of real promise, with Eriksen and Erik Lamela providing the creative spark and Nacer Chadli regularly getting forward into shooting positions. Etienne Capoue has been a fixture in midfield, while Danny Rose is finally starting to perform consistently at full-back. Spurs just need to be a little more clinical in front of goal.
Pochettino will definitely be without the injured Kyle Naughton (ankle) and Kyle Walker (pelvis) for the trip to the Etihad, while Chadli (hip) and Hugo Lloris (groin) are doubtful after picking up minor injuries on international duty. Reports do, however, suggest that Spurs are relatively confident both will be ready for this match.
Man City v Spurs Betting Tips
City took the lead in the first minute of last season’s equivalent fixture on route to an impressive 6-0 victory. They were also comfortable victors in the reverse fixture at White Hart Lane, winning 5-1 following four second-half goals. City have won each of the last four matches between the sides at the Etihad, and six of the last seven meetings all at venues.
City faced all three of their fellow top four finishers from last season in their first five matches of the new campaign, coming away with a win and two draws. Having navigated that difficult stretch of fixtures they will be hopeful of reeling in leaders Chelsea over the next month or so. Pellegrini will, however, be wary that Spurs are unlikely to roll over as easily as they did last season.
Tottenham’s last two league performances have shown a little more of the energy and determination that was expected from them following Pochettino’s appointment. There was a world of difference between their display in the draw away to Arsenal and their meek home defeat to Liverpool in the third week of the campaign.
Spurs will seek to make things difficult for City. Pellegrini’s side are the favourites but we believe there will be little to choose between the two teams come the final whistle.
- Back Man City to win by one goal in the ‘winning margin’ market @ best odds of 11/4 with Bet365, SkyBet or Boylesports.
- Aguero seems to enjoy playing against Spurs, having scored in four of his five appearances against them since joining City in 2011. He was rested from Argentina’s comfortable win over Hong Kong on Tuesday and should therefore be relatively fresh. Back Sergio Aguero to score at anytime @ evens with Ladbrokes or Coral.