Man City vs. Spurs: Premier League game of the week
Tottenham's visit to the Etihad is an early-season clash that could have an impact come next spring
Premier League: Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur
- When: Saturday 17 August
- Where: Etihad Stadium, Manchester
- Kick-off time: 5.30pm (BST)
- TV channel: live on Sky Sports
Clash of the titans
Man City are favourites for a third straight title this season, but Spurs are perhaps the team most likely to challenge them and Liverpool at the top of the table this term, and this clash could prove to be crucial come next spring.
But Spurs haven’t beaten City in the league since 2016 and have lost five of their last seven encounters against Pep Guardiola’s side. But City will have a point to prove after the incredible Champions League clash between the two teams last season, when Spurs lost 4-3 at the Etihad but went through on away goals having won the first leg 1-0.
Both teams won on the opening weekend, City thrashing West Ham 5-0 and Spurs coming from behind to beat Aston Villa 3-1.
“West Ham found, as most will again this season, that Manchester City, once in their stride, are difficult to be stopped,” says MailOnline.
“Tottenham will have more time on the ball, more chance of keeping the game tight and, undoubtedly, better routes to the City goal… There are perhaps only a handful of sides who can test City. Tottenham are absolutely one of those sides. It is what makes this match-up exciting. City won't be dominant, they won't stroll about knowing the opposition will struggle to hurt them, and they will, at times, be vulnerable.”
Guardiola's lessons learned
City boss Pep Guardiola certainly won’t underestimate Spurs. That last league victory for Tottenham, in 2016, was Guardiola’s first defeat as City boss. “The impression it left on Guardiola and the mark it made on his team can still be seen today,” says Mark Critchley in The Independent.
Spurs played with a “strength and power, blended with furious intensity” that shocked Guardiola and led him to adapt his approach. “There was always an element of physicality to Guardiola’s teams… But City are different. They are slightly less metronomic, slightly more muscular. It is about power sometimes as well as possession. And since the end of his first season, Guardiola has generally sought to bring more physically imposing players to the club.”
Rodri, City’s record summer signing, is a case in point. But the Manchester Evening News wonders whether a returning Fernandinho may have the Premier League nous required for this test.
Tough team decisions
“Fernandinho's age means he is less likely to play every game, but that would indicate he could be saved for the bigger occasions such as Tottenham,” says the paper.
But, the Evening Standard notes, “trying to predict a Guardiola XI is like trying to nail jelly to a wall”.
It says: “Bernardo Silva did not get a minute against West Ham, but it would be a shock if he did not start versus Tottenham. Gabriel Jesus started at London Stadium, but is likely to drop out for Sergio Aguero - and given Leroy Sane's lengthy layoff due to an Achilles injury, Riyad Mahrez will be hoping for another start in attack.”
Eriksen holds the key for Spurs
Key to Spur’s chances could be Christian Eriksen, who came off the bench to change the game against Aston Villa.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has said he does not know if Eriksen will stay at White Hart Lane this season, and he could yet leave before the European transfer window shuts on September 2. He is entering the final 12 months of his contract and could leave for free next summer if Spurs keep him and he does not sign a new deal. However, the Argentine boss has also made it clear he will pick his team on merit, which means the Dane is likely to feature at the Etihad.
“With Heung-min Son still suspended from a red card at Bournemouth last season, Lucas Moura will likely join Harry Kane in attack once again,” says the Standard.