League leaders Manchester City welcome a struggling Spurs side to the Etihad tomorrow. The champions will look to make it 5 wins on the bounce after a ruthless display in Europe earlier this week. Despite storm Eunice causing disruption across the country, kick-off is set to go ahead at 17:30 (GMT) and will be broadcasted on Sky Sports Main Event.
In his press conference, Guardiola ruled out the possibility of a Jack Grealish return this weekend, as he continues to struggle with an ongoing shin injury. The involvement of Gabriel Jesus or Cole Palmer this Saturday seems unlikely, too. However, England right-back Kyle Walker returns to the squad after his European suspension and I expect him to slot straight back into the back four. UEFA have today upheld the 31-year-old's original Champions League suspension despite the club's appeal to have the three-match suspension reduced.
Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, Bernardo, De Bruyne, Sterling, Foden, Mahrez.
League Position: 1st
Top Scorer Raheem Sterling (10)
Previous result: W 5-0 Sporting Lisbon (A)
Pep Guardiola's men have been in scintillating form as of late, coming out victorious in their previous 4 games - scoring 15 and conceding just the one. Their most recent triumph came in Portugal after they steamrolled past Sporting Lisbon in a 5-0 win. A game that saw Bernardo Silva bag a brace past his childhood rivals and only narrowly denied a hattrick by the offside flag. City fans will be hoping that Bernardo's incredible form and confidence will continue against Antonio Conte's side and help the champions attain all three points. Mahrez, Sterling and Foden joined Silva on the scoresheet that night and set the Blues up perfectly for the reverse leg in Manchester.
Despite scoring 5 and seemingly putting the tie to bed in the first leg, City weren’t at their best by any stretch and were even sloppy in parts. However, it was their ruthlessness in front of goal that resulted in such a landslide result - a ruthlessness that City have perhaps lacked in recent meetings against Spurs.
Raheem Sterling has been the pinnacle of City’s recent goal scoring form, netting 4 in his last two - With the England international back to his best, I expect him to cause havoc against Conte’s back five. His fellow winger, Riyad Mahrez has also been a standout player in recent matches. The Algerian is City's leading goal scorer in all competitions this season and will play an integral role this Saturday – occupying the right-hand side of the pitch, a position he has made his own in recent weeks.
City have the chance to sustain their lead at the top of the Premier League table this weekend, and a win against Conte's side should only elevate their momentum and form further – as the Blues head into a tricky schedule period. Liverpool welcome Norwich earlier the same day, in a game you expect the Reds to win – therefore, a good performance will be as important as ever for the Blues.
League Position: 8th
Top Scorer: Son
Previous Result: L Wolves (H)
Despite a relatively strong start to Conte's reign in North London, standards have rapidly slipped and the Italian is now looking at 4 Premier League losses on the bounce if they fail to pick up a point at the Etihad this Saturday. Some people would argue that there is no better time to play the North London side, but with disappointing results comes even more motivation to improve, thus Guardiola's men will have to be at their best in order to get the job done this weekend.
After a dragged out and tedious summer transfer saga, which saw Harry Kane eventually stay at Spurs, despite heavy interest from the Blues, the Englishman has failed to hit the heights that he is familiar with. In fact, this has been the striker's worst season to date, after scoring only 5 in 22 Premier League appearances. Despite his bad form, City's players and their fans know the ability of the England captain and limiting his opportunity at goal will be a key factor in obtaining all three points.
Tottenham's top goalscorer this season Heung-Min Son is another threat that Ruben Dias and co will be looking to stop; the South Korean international has a particularly good record against the champions and his trademark 'cut inside' finish has haunted City fans in recent years. However, if City manage to cease those threats, I can't see anything but another win on the board for Guardiola's men, and a step closer to the title.
Head to Head
City have faced Spurs 165 times since January 1909, and the results have been relatively even. Spurs did, however, beat City in the reverse fixture earlier this season in a game that saw Heung-Min Son get the only goal of the game in the 55th minute. The line-up that day, however, was very different to how I predict Guardiola to order his team this time out, and City fans will be hoping the outcome will be different, too.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth official: Craig Pawson
VAR: Darren England
Assistant VAR: Simon Bennett
Written by: @BrookbanksHenry
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