Previews: Acid tests for Spurs and City

LONDON - Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, who have won all their matches this season and are cautiously optimistic about breaking into the Premier League's top four, could get a reality check on Saturday.

The fixture computer has paired Spurs with champions Manchester United and City with Arsenal in two London-Manchester encounters that should give some indication of just how much progress Spurs and City have made.

Spurs face United at White Hart Lane in high spirits, having made their best start to a season for 49 years and sitting level on 12 points with Chelsea at the top of the table after winning their opening four matches.

City who, like Spurs, are one of English football's great under-achieving teams - and who have spent more than 200 million pounds in the last year trying to change that - face Arsenal at Eastlands two weeks after Arsenal's last visit to Manchester when they lost 2-1 at Old Trafford.

Arsenal are sixth after four matches, three points behind United and City and six behind Spurs and Chelsea.

City have won their opening three matches without conceding a goal but will be without Argentine striker Carlos Tevez after he picked up an injury playing for Argentina against Brazil last week.

However, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure, who both left Arsenal for City in the summer, will be looking forward to a match against their old team with Adebayor eager to score for his fourth consecutive League match for his new club.

Spurs drew 0-0 with United at home last season, drew 0-0 with them in the League Cup final before losing on penalties at Wembley and led them in both an FA Cup and a Premier League match at Old Trafford before losing.


Manager Harry Redknapp has brought a new-found sense of confidence to his squad and a resilience that was lacking in the past.

They have won three matches by a 2-1 scoreline after either coming from behind, or going back ahead after losing the lead but United provide their toughest test so far.

Their former player Nick Barmby, whose Hull City side were crushed 5-1 at home by his old club on August 19, says he thinks Spurs are finally on the move upwards.

"Spurs will be up there pushing for the top four this campaign," he said on their website.

"Harry Redknapp is a great manager who lets his players go out and express themselves. I have a feeling that something very special could be just around the corner for Tottenham."

However, losing Croatian playmaker Luka Modric for up to two two months with a broken leg was a big blow.

Redknapp captured Modric's fellow Croatian Niko Kranjcar from his old club Portsmouth on the last day of the transfer window and he will get an immediate chance to impress against United.

For once United, who are third, are lower than Spurs in the table, but they have won three of their four matches without playing particularly well. They have not lost at White Hart Lane for eight successive matches since 2001.

Chelsea, who have looked hugely impressive in winning their opening four matches under new coach Carlo Ancelotti, travel to fifth-placed Stoke City