Manchester City may need to move out of first gear to get a result in the Monday night game as they make yet another visit to Wembley, this time for a league game. Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs have been performing to a high standard in the Premier League while simultaneously devolving into utter chaos in Europe, and dropping yet more Champions League points at PSV has given them all the encouragement they’re likely to need to concentrate on domestic matters.
The visitors here are fresh from the kind of visit to Shakhtar that used to be described as “tricky” before City became a relentless winning machine. They saw off the Ukrainian champions 3-0 without batting an eyelid, but Spurs are likely to deliver more of an examination here. This game could be a classic, but we probably said that about the Citizens’ trip to Liverpool (0-0), so what do we know?
Tottenham vs Manchester City Prediction: Tottenham 2-2 Manchester City
Spurs have bounced back from consecutive defeats against Watford and Liverpool to win four in a row and vault into fifth place – just two points behind the leaders, who they face here. Of course, winning runs often end when a side faces Manchester City, particularly with the footballing da Vinci that is Kevin de Bruyne back in action. Spurs will have their work cut out to keep all of Pep Guardiola’s attacking options quiet here, but let’s not forget that in Erik Lamela, Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min, they’ve got a few fireworks of their own. A high-scoring draw is more than possible in this showdown.
Our recommended tip: Over 3.5 Goals
Guardiola’s first two seasons in the City dugout were marked by his insistence on winning matches beautifully, even though it came back to bite them when their attacking endeavour left them short at the back at opponents such as Liverpool – which led to them losing beautifully instead. Pep has belatedly learned a bit of pragmatism, but the open spaces at Wembley aren’t the place to be circumspect, and we see him going for the throat here. With all of the aforementioned attacking players, plus Sergio Aguero and David Silva on show, this should lead to goals on both sides.
In recent seasons, Spurs have come to be seen as one of the sides with a chance of unseating City as England’s top side, which will have made the twin thumpings they suffered last season at the hands of the champions all the more bruising. At Wembley, in April, an Aguero-less City raced into a 2-0 lead by the 25th minute, through Gabriel Jesus and a Gundogan penalty. Although Christian Eriksen hit back before half-time, a Raheem Sterling finish secured all three points for the visitors. The previous game, in Manchester, was worse still for Spurs, Sterling bagging twice in a 4-1 stroll for the Citizens
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Players to watch: Erik Lamela & Kevin de Bruyne
Lamela is typically one of the last players to get a mention when people list Spurs’ attacking threats, but it’s not for lack of quality. The Argentinian schemer has notched three goals in five Premier League appearances (four of which came from the bench). Having grabbed the winner last time out at West Ham as a starter, he’ll hope to keep his place here in Eriksen’s absence. If he does, expect Kane to get all the attention while his less heralded team-mate benefits from the space that allows him.
It’s hard to sum up just what a difference Kevin de Bruyne makes to any side he plays in without resorting to hyperbole. However, with attacking vision unmatched in this league, two equally-strong feet, passing ability bestowed by one of the more generous gods, and a long-range shot that’s also not bad, the Belgian may well be the best player in English football. Having spent the last few months out injured, he laid on an assist in his first start back, and he doesn’t look to have missed a beat. Be afraid, Spurs.