Manchester City v Spurs - Match Preview
City welcome Spurs to the Etihad this Saturday for the evening kick off. Settle down after your dinner and hold on tight - this could be a cracker. Given how equal the overall record between the sides stands at present - City City W58 D35 L60 - this game is always hard to call and often servers up thrilling football and plenty of goals.
Pep`s squad continued their winning streak on Wednesday against Swansea and entered the history books with another performance out of the top drawer including a sublime goal from David Silva. Even the BBC could no longer ignore the stats when they finally got around to posting the details.
Perhaps their statistician was late getting back to his laptop at the BBC Media City round the corner in Salford from the Theatre of Moaning after watching another utilitarian display from the embittered Maureen`s Galacticos as they ground out another 1-0 win. From the reactions witnessed in the Rag Fancam video posted on this site after the derby one cannot imagine that many are happy watching the fare that their manager is serving up. Even their former manager Louis van Goal has declared he would rather watch City.
Maurico Pochettino has found his side stumble in recent weeks. Despite topping their Champions League group ahead of Real Madrid (kudos) their patchy league performances saw them slip to 7th place after a sequence of results reading LDLDWW which has put them in 10th place in the form table and some 18 (eighteen) points behind City. They have recovered somewhat dispatching Stoke last weekend with a ruthless efficiency and Brighton in midweek but prior to that fixture had drawn against Watford lost to Leicester and drawn at home against WBA.
They will have been buoyed up by their recent results though and Pochettino will surely challenged them to take the game to City. It is not in his nature to have his side sit back so we could be in for a exciting game. Kyle Walker will be playing against his old side in a competitive game and I am sure the Spurs fans will demonstrate their appreciation for his service by warmly applauding him…..in a parallel universe maybe. I think there will be short odds on them following the style of the classless scousers whose bitter response to Sterling merely serves to illustrate their underlying insecurity.
Looking at the last five matches against Spurs at the Etihad - City W3 D1 L1 GF15 GA6 - it might look as if City have the upper hand but this is only an example of how deceptive statistics can be.
They rarely tell the whole story.
City last won a league fixture at home against Spurs in October 2014. That 4-1 victory had been preceded by two other wins (6-0 & 2-1) but has been followed by a 1-2 defeat in February 2016 and a 2-2 draw last January where City squandered a two goal lead. That said our defence in front of Bravo that day consisted of Zabaleta, Otamendi, Kolarov, Clichy with Toure as the holding midfielder - Pep was still finding out what his players could do and they were faced with a Spurs side riding high with Rose and Walker flying, Deli All at the top of his game and Harry Kane scoring for fun. This time around the side has a much more solid look with vastly under-rated Fernandinho belying his age and regularly excelling in his role as a defensive midfielder ably supported by a work ethic throughout the squad which is almost like having an extra player.
Pep goes into this game ruing the loss of yet another defender - Kompany - but overall he will be much better prepared to take on a manager who so far has had the better of him in the Premier League. Ederson`s solidity and confidence adds immense security to his team and they have responded in kind despite the changes forced upon them by the injuries to Mendy, Stones & Vincent Kompany. Mangala, much as John Stones was before him, is having to step up and is benefitting now from having a far more confident and comfortable Nicolas Otamendi beside him.
They will need to be on their toes with Harry Kane leading the line ably supported by Deli Alli who isn`t afraid of mixing things up with opponents. Eriksen is a dangerous player with the quality to pick a pass and Heung-Min, who scored the equaliser in this fixture last time out, will need watching.
Last six meetings (all comps):
City W2 D1 L3 GF8 GA10
Famous Spurs fans:-
Peter Cook (Comedian)
Warren Mitchell (RIP) (Actor)
Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger)
Ian Rankin (Author)
Lord Sugar (Pompous Twat)
Bill Nicholson - won the double as manager of Spurs
Glenn "never give a City player credit` Hoddle
Chris 'rubbish penalty taker` Waddle
City and Spurs connections:-
Kyle Walker - the full back moved north to City and was instantly declared useless by Spurs fans. Shows what they know. I expect them to follow the Scousers example in expressing their displeasure but which we all know is actually a deep seated insecurity because of what the player`s decision tells them…..
Kieran Tripper - ex-City youth player who joined Spurs after impressing at Burnley. Declared 'better than Walker` after the latter left for pastures new. Hmmm, you have to wonder if they are trying too hard to convince themselves.
Paul Walsh - Walsh played more games for Spurs than any other of his eight clubs, featuring in 128 games but towards the end of his career he enjoyed a successful Indian summer at Maine Road, netting 16 times in 53 appearances.
2004 FA Cup comeback - City were losing 3-0 and down to 10 men at half-time after Joey Barton was sent off and Super Sulk Nicolas Anelka decided he had had enough on a cold January night and went of 'injured`. What followed was one of the greatest comebacks in the competition`s history, with City scoring four times in a breathless second half to go through 4-3. Can you remember where you were?
1981 Cup Final - One of the finest FA Cup finals in living memory was played out between the two sides in 1981, an epic encounter between two easy on the eye teams, settled by one of the goals of the century by Ricky Villa. City were 11 minutes away from winning the 100th FA Cup in the first meeting at Wembley thanks to a goal from Tommy Hutchinson but his own goal after 79 minutes meant that the game had to be replayed five days later. An epic replay followed where goals from Garth Crooks and a Villa brace consigned the Blues to a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat. I still think Steve MacKenzie`s volley in the replay was one of the best goals scored at Wembley.
Others - Emmanuel Adebayor; Clive Wilson; Clive Allen; Vedran Corluka; Neil McNab;
This fixture heralds the start of a hectic run of fixtures over the Christmas and New Year period which sees City face away trips to Leicester in the League Cup (expect some rotation there) and then Newcastle (27th) and Palace (31st). The single home fixture is on the Saturday before Christmas against Saint Eddie "I wouldn`t rub U*d`s nose in it" Howe`s Bournemouth. Pep now knows what this frantic period involves and his focus will be on seeing City forge through into the New Year without shipping any more injuries so some rotation will be likely. But after the stunning vanquishing of Maureen`s timid long ball specialists his influence in developing a squad mentality has been plain to see and it is paying dividends.
That unity, trust and resilience will be tested over the coming weeks for sure. Pep knows this and I am sure he has been building this squad up to continue performing whoever the opponents are.
After the derby this fixture will have been marked as the next big test by Guardiola and he knows that another A+ performance will be needed.
Come on City!!!
Opponent to watch
'Arry Kane. The darling of the English media and a pretty potent goal scorer. Our defenders will need to be in top form.
Referee - Craig Pawson
Assistants - Lee Betts; Adam Nunn
Fourth Official - Lee Mason
City will be without long term absentee Mendy, John Stones and now Vincent Kompany. I fear now for Vinnie`s long term future - Pep has hinted about not being able to rely upon him and that I suggest is not a good sign. Sané is likely to return and Pep may once again rotate Jesus and Aguero.
Spurs will be without Alderweirald (hamstring) and Wanyama (knee cartilage).
Potential starting XI, subs & formation
Walker, Otamendi, Mangala, Delph
De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva D
Sterling, G Jesus, Sané
Bravo, Adarabioyo, Danilo, Toure, Silva B, Gundogan, Aguero