The two teams atop the Premier League form table meet when Tottenham Hotspur host champions elect Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday (19:45 BST).
Spurs have a perfect record of six wins from their last six league matches, and have won 11 and drawn three of their last 14. Indeed, their last league defeat came at the hands of City, in a 1-4 loss away at the Etihad in mid-December which left them seventh in the table.
Their form since has been better than that of any other side in the division – by four points, from Man City, in terms of the other teams who have played the same amount of matches in that time. The result is that they now sit comfortably within the top four, with a 10-point gap to Chelsea in fifth, and have designs on finishing third or second.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side pulled level with Liverpool in third with a 2-1 win away to Stoke City last weekend. The match was actually fairly even in terms of chances, but it was Spurs who emerged victorious thanks to two goals from Christian Eriksen. Liverpool have played a game more, so even defeat to City in by far the toughest of their remaining fixtures would still leave Spurs solidly placed to overhaul the Reds.
The season will still be viewed as a largely positive one regardless of whether or not they do so. Their Champions League performances were much improved, and they should really have taken advantage of a largely dominant display to see off Juventus in their last-16 exit. A third consecutive top-four finish reads well, especially considering the fact that they have spent the campaign at Wembley, with White Hart Lane in redevelopment.
Saturday’s opponents Man City have generally had a very successful season but the last week and a half has been a difficult one for them. On Tuesday, they were unable to overcome their three-goal first-leg deficit to Liverpool in their Champions League quarter-final, while last weekend, they blew a two-goal half-time lead to lose 2-3 to local rivals Manchester United in a match where victory would have secured them the Premier League title.
It would still take a collapse of spectacular proportions to prevent them wrapping up that honour in the remaining six matches of the season, but they will now at least have to wait two matchdays to do so if United don’t drop points at home to West Bromwich Albion this weekend. It would, however, only be a delayed coronation of worthy champions.
Pep Guardiola’s side did, at one stage, look on course to better United’s 18-point winning margin as the 1999/2000 champions but while that record is now one they are unlikely to break, they are still in with a shot of besting others. They have also scored more, conceded less, won five more and lost two less matches than any other Premier League side this season.
It has certainly not been an entirely organic success. A huge amount of money has been invested in a squad that is, by a fair distance, the best-rounded in the league. But it would also be fair to say that a certain amount of revisionism has reared its head in relation to the quality of the squad that Guardiola inherited. He has clearly improved and drawn excellent performances from a number of players who had not previously achieved that same level.
Aside from Liverpool, Spurs are the only team in the upper reaches of the table who have really tried to confront City on a like-for-like basis this season. The result was, as previously noted, a heavy defeat. City took a first-half lead and as Spurs started to commit more men forward, they added three further goals on the break.
Spurs have, though, won each of the last two meetings between the sides that they have hosted, have defeated Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United and drawn away to Liverpool since their loss to City at the Etihad, and are generally in very good form. With Man City on a downer follower their Champions League elimination in midweek, Spurs should have a slight edge in what is likely to be attractive and closely contested encounter.
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