Fast-starting Tottenham Hotspur face a tough test of their credentials when they host Manchester City at their eponymous stadium on Saturday (5.30pm; TV: Live on Sky Sports).
Spurs are second in the Premier League table at this admittedly early stage of the season, just a point behind leaders Leicester City. After an opening day loss at home to Everton, they have strung together an unbeaten run of five wins and two draws.
The latest win came away at West Bromwich Albion prior to the international break. Spurs were a bit off the pace during the first half but sprang to life after the break. They pummelled the home goal with 18 shots to West Brom’s six and eventually got their reward when Harry Kane headed home a floated cross from Matt Doherty in the 88th minute of play.
Tottenham’s strong start to the campaign has seen their predicted seasonal performance uprated by all the publicly available statistical models. They are also now odds-on with the bookmakers to claim a top-four finish, something that was certainly not the case prior to the EPL kicking off this season. Their good results have also been backed up by very strong underlying numbers.
Kane and Heung Min-Son have both begun the season in excellent form, knocking in 15 of Tottenham’s 19 league goals between them, and with summer signing Gareth Bale gradually working his way up to full fitness, Spurs have a very potent attacking trio at their disposal. With Tanguy Ndombele beginning to produce in midfield, and both summer arrivals at full-back seemingly settling in well, Jose Mourinho has a very good set of players to work with.
Spurs have already seen off Manchester United 6-1 away from home this season, but Saturday’s match begins a set of fixtures that may just provide a better idea of what to expect from their campaign, with matches against four of last season’s top five to come before Christmas. A win against Man City would represent the perfect start to that run.
City will, though, have other ideas. They need to get three points on the board to improve their current record of 12 points from three wins, three draws and one defeat. While their current position of 10th has much to do with the fact that they have played a match less than eight of the nine teams ahead of them, it would also be fair to say that there has been room for improvement in their performances to date.
Goals have never previously been a problem for City under Pep Guardiola. They’ve twice broken the 100 mark in the last three seasons but they have struggled in that department so far this term, scoring just 10 times in seven matches. Their underlying attacking numbers have also been some of the worst in any similarly sized sample of matches from his time in charge, although the injury absences of Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero have clearly played a part.
Man City’s defensive numbers are as good as anybody’s in what has been a high-scoring start to the Premier League season, particularly given that six of the nine goals they’ve conceded came in one match. Any of the vulnerabilities they do still appear to have in transitional phases of play are only amplified when they are unable to create enough to offset them at the other end.
Despite a slow start, Guardiola will have taken heart from his side’s performance in their 1-1 draw with reigning champions Liverpool before the international break. It was a relatively cautious affair, with a low shot count, but with Jesus again available, City arguably created the better chances of the match. It was Jesus who equalised an early Liverpool penalty to earn his side a point. Kevin de Bruyne also missed a penalty for City.
The form book suggests that Spurs have a good chance of replicating their victory in last season’s equivalent fixture with another home win over Man City on Saturday. It is perfectly reasonable for the bookmakers to have City as the pre-match favourites, but Spurs can be backed to continue their impressive start by taking another three points. So this is JustBookies’ Spurs vs Man City betting tip for this EPL preview:
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