Premier League Preview Manchester City v Tottenham – it looks like goals on the cards
Manchester City are in imperious form, fresh from their latest Manchester derby triumph. Pep Guardiola’s side are looking down on the rest of the Premier League, but Tottenham and the fit again Harry Kane will look to exploit a potentially make-shift defence.
With such an array of attacking options, it’s often difficult to predict exactly who will be starting up front for City. Gabriel Jesus got the nod over Sergio Aguero in the derby, but it would be no surprise to see the Argentinian goal-machine in the starting line-up for the visit of Spurs as he was for Wednesday’s 4-0 win at Swansea. With 182 goals he’s the Citizens’ all-time top goal scorer and has found the net every 99 minutes this season, with 13 goals in all competitions so far. Aguero to score is always a safe bet.
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Alongside him the attacking talent is rich. Leroy Sane is fulfilling that immense promise, David Silva was devastating in the derby and against West Ham and Swansea, but it’s Raheem Sterling who’s the one to watch. The fleet-footed winger has netted 13 times already this season, winning his team a total of nine points with his late goals. Grabbing late winners in tight affairs has become his speciality, most notably against Huddersfield and Southampton. The smart money could be on Sterling to pounce at the death to salvage his team once again. If Spurs leave him alone in the dying minutes.
Spurs’ season has been a difficult one to swallow for Mauricio Pochettino. Having sparkled in the Champions League, seeing off Real Madrid at Wembley they’ve made heavy going of the league of late, losing at Leicester and drawing at home to West Brom and away at Watford. They were back with a bang at the weekend, defeating their favourite opponents Stoke City 5-1 at Wembley then cruising to a 2-0 win midweek against Brighton. Harry Kane was on top form in the win over Stoke adding two more goals taking his tally to 50 from 48 games for club and country in 2017.
Kane is always Spurs’ dangerman, but it was Son Heung-Min who was devastating from the left flank against Stoke and Brighton. If Spurs are to disrupt the City-juggernaut it could be Son, rather than Kane to exploit any gaps in the blue defence. For City it’s all about the full-backs. They have a special role to play for Guardiola and are the out ball for many of their attacks. Kyle Walker does this job superbly, but all that time up the pitch does leave space in behind, which Son will no doubt try to exploit. Son is 7/2 to score at any time at the Etihad with Paddy Power.
With John Stones out injured and Vincent Kompany continuing to struggle with injury, the pressure will be on Nicolas Otamendi to keep City watertight. He has been shaky at times this season, so the makeshift defence could be Spurs’ best option to get at City. That does depend on how often they can get the ball however and the best use they make of it on the break. Son and the powerful running of Kane could just do it.
The Premier League form book for this fixture was heavily weighted in City’s favour until a couple of seasons ago when Spurs started to bite back. Spurs win here in February 2016 was their first since 2010 when Peter Crouch’s winner secured them Champions League football. Last season’s encounter also saw them come away unbeaten with a 2-2 draw. In fact, the last time City triumphed against Spurs was in 2015.
While no one has beaten City this season in the Premier League, they have struggled of late at home needing late winners in their last three outings at the Etihad. Given Spurs’ record against City in the last two years another late winner could be beyond the blues and a draw may well be on the cards.
A draw it may well be, but it’s unlikely to be a tight cagey affair. These sides have played each other 13 times since the last 0-0 draw in 2010 and neither is watertight at the back. Ederson had only kept one clean sheet in the City goal since the end of October (before Wednesday’s win at Swansea) and Hugo Loris has conceded in all but one of his last eight Premier League outings. We could well be getting into the Christmas spirit with a high scoring encounter with the spoils shared.
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