Leicester City is the favorite underdog team in the Premier League this year. But Tottenham Hotspur’s story is no less remarkable as they gear up to face a Manchester City team who they had thrashed in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
At the beginning of the season, Manchester City were looking like clear title favorites. Tottenham were expected to go about their business as usual — pull off a few good wins, lose a few straightforward clashes, fail to establish themselves as top four contenders, and slide to a Europa League spot as usual. Even their star goalscorer from last season Harry Kane was being written off as a one-season wonder.
But Spurs gave all their critics a statement of intent in their home game against a much more fancied Manchester City side in September. They ran riot on the Citizens after conceding the opening goal to a Yaya Toure counter charge, finishing with a 4-1 scoreline in their favour.
The two teams square up once again on Sunday, but this time everyone knows what Tottenham are capable of, and Manchester City are the ones who are being called vulnerable.
South American flair on display as two attacking managers collide
Manuel Pellegrini and Manchester City will definitely be missing the services of a key play maker in Kevin de Bruyne, who has been ruled out with a long term injury. But Manuel Pellegrini won’t be losing any sleep over it with the star power he has at his disposal. The Chilean may be heading out of the club next summer due to the arrival of a certain wellknown manager from abroad, but he has effectively managed to turn Manchester City into one of the most free-flowing, attacking sides in the Premier League. They have scored a joint league highest 47 goals this time around as well and Pellegrini likes his men to go out, dominate proceedings and score goals.
Tottenham Hotspur aren’t far behind on the goal scoring list though, with 45 of their own in as many games. Mauricio Pochettino has revolutionized the club. The Spurs are now a fast paced, agile, cohesive attacking unit and can get right on top of any team once they get going. This was exemplified in their victory over Manchester City last time around and could well be on display again at the Etihad Stadium.
The two managers will not be pulling any punches and will be egging their sides on to win with a bit of style and panache. The Chilean manager has put Manchester City on the map in the past couple of seasons, and the Argentine is looking to do the same with Tottenham Hotspur.
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Aguero v/s Alderweireld/Trippier
Keiran Trippier put the cherry on top of his recent performances for Spurs with the winning goal in their match against Watford last week. But he will have to focus more on his defensive duties in this encounter, as he and center back partner Toby Alderweireld will have to fend off attacks from the predator that is Sergio Aguero.
Aguero has 14 goals in 18 games in an injury plagued season, and defenders around the league will be feeling thankful he hasn’t been at full fitness for a while. However, he will be leading the line up for the Cityzens in this particular encounter and the Spurs defensive duo will have to put their attacking capabilities on hold and be on thier toes to deny the prolific Argentine chances to add to his tally.
Toure v/s Dier
Yaya Toure is being prematurely linked with a move away from Manchester City due to diminishing ability and advancing age. But the Ivorian is still bossing around the midfield like he was 6 years ago and could well be a force to reckon with for the Spurs.
Battling with Yaya in midfield will be 22-year-old Englishman Eric Dier, who will play a similar role for Tottenham Hotspur. Though Toure seems to be a much bigger physical presence, Dier has been making a name for himself in the defensive midfield role at Tottenham. This will be one of the clashes that could dictate the outcome of the game as both sides look to control midfield.
Kane v/s Hart
Harry Kane has silenced all those who were calling him a one-hit wonder after something of a dry spell at the start of the season. He has now scored 15 goals in the league, behind only Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy and Everton’s Romelu Lukaku. The young striker will come up against one of his seniors in the English national side in Joe Hart.
There are few defenses around in the country that can contain Harry Kane and his long range precision shots, so Hart could well be the only thing stopping Kane from taking the game away from Manchester City.