First meets third and second meets fourth in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon – it really doesn’t come much bigger than this…
Club Journalist @markbooth_mcfc picks out seven things to watch in City’s crunch meeting with Tottenham…
It’s been well documented elsewhere that City have failed to win back-to-back Premier League since the start of October but how have the Blues recovered from defeats in 2015/16?
Out of our last four league losses, we’ve won our very next game, most recently we beat Sunderland 4-1 after losing to Arsenal and, before that, we defeated Swansea 2-1 after going down to Stoke.
Following the heavy home defeat to Liverpool we breezed past Southampton at the Etihad and after our loss to Spurs earlier in the season an Aguero-inspired City stuck six past Newcastle.
City’s power of recovery look strong then but they will be needed against Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham.
A pivotal day?
Back in August, who would have imagined that this weekend’s round of fixtures would see the Premier League’s top four all meeting one another?
That’s the situation we find ourselves as Arsenal take on Leicester at the Emirates and City entertain Spurs at the Etihad.
Someone has to drop points, meaning the top four could take on a very different aesthetic come 6pm on Sunday evening.
Leicester suffered their only emphatic defeat of the season at the hands of the Gunners in the autumn, while City succumbed to a similarly heavy loss in their reverse fixture against Spurs.
Both teams will be out for revenge to try and assert their title credentials – it really couldn’t be set up any more intriguingly.
Here’s to you, Vincent Kompany…
Manuel confirmed the news that we’d all been hoping for in his Friday lunchtime press conference… the skipper is back in contention!
How the Belgian international has been missed, not only for his defensive capabilities but for his leadership qualities and experience of what it takes to win a Premier League title.
City have only lost one game Vincent has played in so far this season… and he wasn’t on the pitch when we conceded Juventus’s match-winning second goal at the Etihad.
An inspiration presence, will Vincent’s return help us to finally go on that run required to march on towards a third title in four years?
The treatment table…
No-one in the Premier League has suffered more injuries than City have so far this season.
Our total number of individual lay-offs is now 54 for the campaign and it’s a problem that shows no sign of abating.
Bacary Sagna and Fabian Delph are the latest two to be ruled out but at least fears over David Silva’s ankle injury have eased.
City have a total of seven players out injured for Spurs, meaning it probably won’t be the hardest XI to predict…
As touched upon above, there are a number of positions on the teamsheet Manuel could probably fill in now with, at the time of writing, 48 hours to go until the game.
Sagna’s injury opens the door for Zabaleta to return at right-back, while it remains to be seen if Vincent will displace Martin Demichelis or Nicolas Otamendi at the centre of defence.
Elsewhere, will it be Clichy or Kolarov at left-back? Two or three of Fernando, Fernandinho and/or Toure in the centre of midfield? Will Silva be risked from the start and, if so, will he start on the right or in behind Aguero and/or Iheanacho?
All will be revealed at 3.15pm on Sunday afternoon.
Attack v Defence?
Youthful verve and an English core, high intensity pressing and a talented, intelligent young manager… this has been the bedrock of Spurs’ hugely impressive 2015/16 season.
The North Londoners would surely have been the revelation of the season if it weren’t for Leicester City but the Foxes’ meteoric rise has almost functioned as a smokescreen for Tottenham, allowing them to fly somewhat under the radar throughout the season.
However, no team has scored more goals than City's 47 goals so far this season, meaning Sunday sees the league’s best attack go up against the division’s best defence – another fascinating sub-plot in a match already loaded with intrigue.
Tottenham's young guns have surpassed all expectations of them up to now but they're travelling to a stadium which hasn't been too kind to them over the last five years...
A Goal-den run…
If there’s one aspect that is truly in City’s favour for this match, it’s the weight of recent history.
City have won their last five home games against Spurs – a run which includes 6-0 and 4-1 wins in the last two.
There have been a whopping 41 goals scored in the last nine meetings between these two teams, meaning there’s an average of 4.5 goals netted per game.