It may not be 1st vs 2nd by the time kick off comes around on Sunday, but going into the weekend the top two sides and only two remaining unbeaten teams going head to head at White Hart Lane is the stand out fixture of game week 7.
This fixture last year, almost a year to the day, marks the game that everything changed for Tottenham. A 4-1 victory over city that day was the first performance that perfectly demonstrated the style Pochettino had spent the past 15 months implementing and the confidence and ability of the side grew and grew from that point.
Tottenham were boosted that day by the pre match news that neither Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, or David Silva would be in the starting line up. The same will almost be true tomorrow with the exception of Silva starting instead of an injured Kevin De Bruyne, which this season is classed as a boost as De Bruyne has firmly established himself as the clubs outstanding playmaker.
Manchester City have started the season like a train, again, similar to last season, and its hard to pick faults in their displays and the way they have seamlessly adapted to a new manager. The only chink of light for Spurs is perhaps that the away performances have not been as solid, everyone beats Stoke these days, but 3 were just shipped to Celtic and despite dominating at Old Trafford there were plenty of opportunities for the home side to score that were ultimately not taken. The Swansea game last time out wasn’t a dominant display either and Spurs will hope that that City turn up on Sunday.
For City’s injuries, it can’t be overlooked that Spurs are missing big players too. Harry Kane’s absence is an undoubted blow and whilst Jannsen clearly has a lot to offer, so far he has not been able to offer goals and that is a big concern for tomorrow especially when I do feel that City’s defence is still currently there to be got at. It’s still not clear whether Dembele will start and it will major blow if he doesn’t as this game more than ever the big mans control in midfield will be required to stem the inevitable waves of City possession.
Rose, Dier also doubts, and new signing Sissoko missed last game concussed. Sissoko is still very much settling in to life at the Lane but i’d like to see him fit for this one as his long strides and pace running from defence into attack will be a great benefit against a side such as City who like to spend long periods on the front foot.
A big plus point for Manchester City this season has been the upturn in form of Raheem Sterling. Last season in the first half Sterling was involved in everything City did and could easily have put the game beyond Tottenham. There’s no way this time he’ll be as wasteful and for Tottenham to do well Sunday a much improved defensive full back performance will be needed from Kyle Walker, and on the flip side, Sterling will need to his job in tracking Walker as he overlaps and joins in Spurs attacks in what will be one of the games key defining battles.
Heung-Min Son has been knocking goals in for fun this season but he’s not a player i’d like to be over-reliant on going into this one. A solid all round display with no passengers is a must if we’re to get a result here. As well as a slightly leaky defence, a question mark still must hang over Claudio Bravo who has not been properly tested since his calamitous debut and with Alderweireld lurking at set pieces and the back four still not settled, between the two Spurs will definitely have opportunities. We will need to be more clinical than we have been thus far.
All said, if City are allowed to play to their best they win, and Spurs will have to be a lot tighter than the recent home game against Liverpool. If they can find a way of using Wanyama and Dembele effectively to cut of Aguero’s supply then there’s no reason we can’t find the goals required to win the match. Spurs are more than capable these days of winning and thus making it 3 in a row against City. After a great start to the season it’s a great opportunity to see what this years side are made of.
Some good value
CITY WIN & BTTS 7/2
ALDERWEIRELD TO ANYTIME 12/1 (OR FIRST 33/1)