Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur will face each other once again this weekend after their epic encounter in the Champions League in the midweek.
The 2018-19 Premier League is in its final leg and the race for the title is tighter than ever. As things stand, reigning champions Manchester City find themselves two points behind leaders Liverpool and they will be aiming to cut that gap down and move to the summit, when they face off against Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
It has been a disappointing week for Manchester City, as their hopes of a quadruple got crushed in the most heartbreaking way possible. Facing Tottenham in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, Pep Guardiola’s men needed to overturn a first leg deficit, but ended up exiting the tournament, despite winning the match that saw 7 goals and two game-changing VAR calls.
Revenge will definitely on the minds of the Manchester City players when they take on Tottenham on Saturday. And, they will need to put the midweek outcome behind and produce a strong reaction, or else they risk losing out in the race for the Premier League title as well.
Tottenham, on the other hand, will be flying high after their display against the reigning English champions earlier in the week. Given that they have not spent a penny on a new signing in the last two transfer windows, it is hugely impressive that they have made it to the semi-final of the Champions League.
But, Mauricio Pochettino’s side must now turn their focus back to the Premier League. The North Londoners are currently third, but with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all lurking behind, they can’t afford to slip up at this point, or they might find themselves out of the top four.
Team News & Tactics
Oleksandr Zinchenko is a doubt for the game with a hamstring injury, while second-choice goalkeeper Claudio Bravo remains sidelined. It will be interesting to see whether Pep Guardiola chooses to rotate his troops for the game after the highly intense match on Wednesday night.
Ederson Moraes is a guaranteed starter between the sticks for the Citizens, but there are likely to be a few changes in the backline. Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones should start at the heart of the Manchester City defence, having not been involved in the midweek. Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy should retain their spots in the full-back slots.
Manchester City’s chief midfield enforcer Fernandinho should return to the starting XI for Saturday’s game in place of Ilkay Gundogan. Both Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva should feature from the kick-off once again and act as the chief creative outlets for the home team.
Raheem Sterling has been in unstoppable form of late and should not be benched, but Leroy Sane could get a look-in after making a substitute appearance in the midweek. Sergio Aguero should start once again as the lead striker ahead of Gabriel Jesus.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Mendy; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane
Tottenham are plagued with injuries to a number of key players ahead of the game. Star striker Harry Kane is ruled out of the tie, while midfielders Eric Dier and Harry Winks are also major doubts for the game. Moussa Sissoko is also unlikely to be available, having come off with an injury in the midweek. Erik Lamela and Serge Aurier are also missing out.
This could force Mauricio Pochettino to switch to a three-man backline comprising of Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen, with Kieran Trippier moving into the right wing-back slot. Danny Rose is likely to make way for Ben Davies on the opposite flank.
Victor Wanyama should start in the middle of the park for the North London outfit, while Christian Eriksen could be forced into a deeper role in the middle of the park for the trip to Etihad. Dele Alli is likely to slot in as the sole attacking midfielder for Pochettino’s side and look to exploit the spaces between the lines.
Son Heung-min, who scored a double in the midweek against Manchester City, is a guaranteed starter in attack and is once again likely to be paired up with Brazilian forward Lucas Moura, with Fernando Llorente set to provide additional option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Lloris; Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Trippier, Wanyama, Eriksen, Davies; Alli; Lucas, Son
- Manchester City Clean Sheet – YES @ 2.10
- Manchester City have won each of their last three Premier League games against Tottenham, they will be looking to equal their best run of four successive wins versus Spurs in the competition.
- Tottenham have only won one of their last eight visits to the Etihad (W1 D1 L6), conceding 23 goals in this period.
- None of Manchester City’s last 25 Premier League games have ended in draws, the longest current run in the competition. The Citizens have won 21 of those 25 games (L4), including each of the last nine.
- Tottenham are looking to become the first team since Liverpool in 2008-09 to win away in the Premier League against both Manchester clubs in the same season.
- No side has won more points in Premier League games between the ‘Big Six’ this season than Man City (19), while only Manchester United (6) have won fewer points than Spurs (7).
Player to Watch
It has been a sensational season on a personal level for the supremely talented Raheem Sterling. The England international has already notched up amazing returns of 23 goals and 16 assists from 45 appearances across all competitions, emerging as one of the main driving forces behind Manchester City’s strong run on multiple fronts.
Sterling scored twice in the midweek game against Tottenham and could have had his hat-trick, if his last-minute strike wasn’t chalked off for offside by VAR, which resulted in Manchester City getting eliminated from the Champions League. Having troubled the Spurs defence greatly, another similar performance is expected from the pacy forward.
Manchester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester City will come into the weekend encounter with hurt pride and will want to produce a strong reaction after their exit from the continental competition. A slip-up at this stage in the Premier League could end up hurting City’s chances of retaining the title, and that will not be lost on Pep Guardiola and his players.
Tottenham’s confidence will have been boosted greatly by the qualification to the semi-finals of the Champions League, but they too cannot take their eyes off the ball in the league, with Arsenal and Chelsea breathing down their necks.
Manchester City have won all of their previous nine league matches, while Spurs have failed to pick up a single point from their last four league games on the road. Wednesday’s encounter will have taken a lot out of both the teams, but City’s squad depth means they are much better equipped to deal with fatigue and that should see them edge out Tottenham narrowly on Saturday.