The FourFourTwo Preview: Man City vs Tottenham
Clash of styles as free-scoring City meet shutout specialists Spurs.
Another home game and another match in which Man City are seeking a response after losing 1-0 at Sunderland for the fourth time in as many seasons.
MAN CITY FORM
- Sunderland 1-0 Man City (Prem)
- Man City 5-2 CSKA Moscow (CL)
- Man City 7-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Newcastle 0-2e Man City (LC)
- Chelsea 2-1 Man City (Prem)
- Tottenham 0-1 Newcastle (Prem)
- Tottenham 2-1 Sheriff (EL)
- Everton 0-0 Tottenham (Prem)
- Tottenham p2-2 Hull (LC)
- Tottenham 1-0 Hull (Prem)
The Blues may be imperious at the Etihad Stadium, winning all five of their league games and scoring 20 goals in the process. But that devastating form continues to be undermined by their fragility on the road, leaving Manuel Pellegrini's men six points off the summit at this early stage.
"Of course, it's very difficult if you don't win away to try to fight for the Premier League," admitted the Chilean. "We will continue the same way because in the four defeats I am sure we are playing the correct way".
Sunday's showdown with a Spurs side just one point and one place above them is a game the Blues dare not lose if they are to remain in serious contention for the Premier League title.
While City have been scoring for fun at home, the opposite can be said of Andre Villas-Boas' outfit, who risk going three Premier League games without a goal for the first time since January 2009.
Instead, their stubbornness at the other end has been largely responsible for them currently sitting just a point off fourth place.
Spurs have kept 14 cleans sheets in their 19 matches but going forward they are far from free-flowing and lack a cutting edge, although they were unfortunate not to find the net with any of their 31 attempts against Newcastle as keeper Tim Krul stole the show.
How Spurs line up for this weekend's contest tactically will be key.
The defensively-minded midfield duo of Moussa Dembele and Paulinho slowed Spurs down against Newcastle, allowing the visitors to catch them out with speedy counter-attacks.
Yet they may well be more suited to an away game where they will be expected to keep things tight against a forward line as potent as City's.
This fixture has failed to disappoint in recent years; Peter Crouch's header clinching fourth spot for Spurs in 2010 and Mario Balotelli's last-gasp spot-kick in 2012 edging a five-goal thriller when he probably should not have been on the pitch after a clash with Scott Parker.
But this season's episode could be a closer, edgier affair with avoiding defeat the order of the day.
Vincent Kompany remains sidelined with a thigh problem, while Stevan Jovetic and David Silva also miss out. Fernandinho could return from a knock.
Spurs playmaker Christian Eriksen injured his ankle on international duty for Denmark, although fears he had ruptured ligaments have been quelled by the club. Danny Rose is nearing a return from an ankle complaint, while the rest of the team including Vlad Chiriches, Nacer Chadli and Emmanuel Adebayor are available.
Key battle: Sergio Aguero vs Michael Dawson
Whether he is partnered by Vlad Chiriches or Younes Kaboul, Dawson will have to be on his guard to keep one of the league's in-form marksmen quiet. The Argentine's brace against CSKA Moscow on November 5 took his tally for the season to 13 in just 14 appearances, including nine in his last seven outings.
Spurs' last two away trips, at Everton and Aston Villa, have seen Dawson come away with the most successful clearances on both occasions and his awareness will be key to Spurs getting owt at the Etihad.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Spurs 3-1 Man City (Prem, Apr 13)
- Man City 2-1 Spurs (Prem, Nov 12)
- Man City 3-2 Spurs (Prem, Jan 12)
- Spurs 1-5 Man City (Prem, Aug 11)
- Man City 1-0 Spurs (Prem, May 11)
Despite trailing Villas-Boas' side in the table ahead of Sunday's encounter, Pellegrini does not see Spurs as realistic title rivals, saying: "The Premier League is very close this year - there are six clubs challenging, with very little difference between one team and another. We have a lot of points to fight for, and I think at the end it will be between Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City."
Facts and figures
- Of the 114 different players to have scored at least 40 Premier League goals, only Thierry Henry (122) has a better minutes per goal average than Sergio Aguero (123) in the competition.
More facts at FFT's Man City vs Tottenham Stats Zone page
Tips and trends
- This is a match-up between the best away defence and the strongest home attack. Man City have scored 20 goals in their 5 home matches while Spurs have conceded just once in their 5 away games.
- City have won 7 of their last 10 home games against top-half teams, and are the only team to have won all of their home games this season. Sergio Aguero, who is joint leading scorer in the league, has scored in all but one of the Citizens' home matches this season.
- Tottenham have the lowest goals per game ration in the top five European leagues and haven’t scored more than twice in any of their last 17 league games.
- However, there have been at least 3 goals in 8 of Spurs’ previous 13 trips to top-six opponents.
Find the best odds with Bet Butler
A closer contest than City have been used to at the Etihad as Spurs frustrate and pinch one on the break. 1-1.