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Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur: match preview, projected lineups, predictions, and how to watch

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Spurs face perhaps their biggest test of the season when they head to the Etihad to face Pep Guardiola’s Man City.

Manchester City v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur’s gravy train keeps on rolling. Following their magnificent victory over Chelsea two weeks ago, Spurs put in an utterly commanding performance against West Brom last Saturday. There was brilliance from Harry Edward Kane to be sure, including a beautiful link-up with Dele Alli for the highlight reels, but what impressed most was the level the entire team kept for ninety minutes. It was West Brom, yes, but this wasn't a Baggies side battling for relegation. With seventy-eight percent possession in the first half and quality chances to match, its not hyperbole to say that Spurs were flawless.

The win also pushed Tottenham further up the table. Combined with Liverpool’s draw to United and City’s demolition at Goodison, Spurs moved to second in the Premier League, ahead of Liverpool via goal differential. They have accumulated forty-five points in twenty-one games. It was a nice weekend to support the boys from White Hart Lane.

City don’t look or feel like the undefeated side we saw in early October. Their December has been, by their standards of course, dismal. Defeats to Chelsea, Leicester, Liverpool, and Everton, along with a draw in the Champions League to lowly Celtic is about as poor of a run of results as they’ve had in recent memory. That said, they still took care of Arsenal at home in that stretch. I’m not saying that to embarrass Woolwich, but to point out that no matter their form, City are formidable at home and really difficult to knock-off.

Aguero, Silva, and De Bruyne are all likely to start up front and thats close to a first choice attack for the Citizens. These three are all bonafide match-winners and can take three points from a side in any game, no matter who is playing behind them.

Its the other players eligible for Saturday’s kickoff which gives Spurs and their supporters hope. City’s midfield is in shambles and they will rely on a decrepit Yaya Toure for inspiration, while their backline hasn’t been watertight either this term. They also have Claudio Bravo in net which is fantastic for everyone who isn’t Manchester City. Its hard to predict a goalkeeping blunder, but Claudio Bravo can certainly supply them at a decent clip. Between the goalkeeping position and the center of midfield, its hard to remember a time this decade where Tottenham were superior to City in two key parts of the field.

Tottenham have won seven straight and six in the Premier League. Nevertheless, its hard to call any visiting team a favorite when heading to the Etihad. This match has real ramifications for both the league and the top four. A win keeps us within striking distance of the top spot and pushes Spurs six points clear of a direct rival for the top four. It’d still be early in the campaign’s second half, but with Chelsea and City out of the way, and a potential six points gained from those two encounters, Spurs would be in prime position to achieve glory in the latter parts of the Premier League season.

How to Watch

Date/time: Saturday, 5:30 p.m. (UK), 12:30 p.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, UK
Official: Andre Marriner
TV: NBC (USA), BT Sport 1, BT Sport 4K UHD (UK), Sportsnet (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Sports Live Extra TAC Cam (Wide View) (USA)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London,BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport

Projected Lineup

Jan Vertonghen's ankle injury has been downgraded from catastrophic disaster to manageable long-term absence. Obviously there are a ton of variables still in play here, but this is decidedly good news. In decidedly bad news, Erik Lamela’s hip remains a mystery and looks to keep him sidelined for an indefinite amount of time. He was sharp in preseason and scored our only goal on opening day, but if this wasn’t a lost season for the Argentine already, its certainly looking that way now. Hopefully I am dead wrong.

Vertonghen’s injury poses a difficult selection dilemma for Mauricio Pochettino. He either keeps the formation which has provided Tottenham with incredible form or choose a side that commits the best eleven players to the pitch. I am a proper Kevin Wimmer fan and think Ben Davies is a more than serviceable defender himself, but I can’t say that they are equal in talent to a Son Heung-Min or Moussa Sissoko. With Vertonghen healthy, Poche could play a preferred formation AND retain his best eleven on the pitch — now he must choose formation over personnel or vice versa.

I think he is going to choose personnel over formation against City. I actually believe that Super Jan’s absence will see Wimmer as a straight-up replacement more than not, but with City’s battered midfield, he’ll prefer an extra man in attack. In this scenario then, Spurs will start out with Hugo between the pipes, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker at left-back and right-back respectively, with Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld in the center. Victor Wanyama will play holding midfielder, while Moose pushes forward above him. The attacking band will consist of Eriksen out left, Dele in the hole, and Moussa Sissoko out right, along with Harry Kane up top. In general, his form has been better than Sonny’s of late and his directness might fare well against a struggling City side.

That is the lineup I am going with, but I’d prefer Wimmer to deputy for Jan and, depending on the flow of the game, sub Wimmer out for Sonny or Sissoko for an extra attacking punch if needed. The 3-4-3 is just working so well!

Spurs vs. City - Football tactics and formations

Prediction League

Nobody picked Spurs to lose, but four CFC writers predicted Tottenham to draw. Due to this, Salmon Chase and Earl of Shoop both made some headway in the standings, while Matthew Pachniuk, Dustin Menno, and Brian Mechanick all moved within a point of second placed Pardeep Cattry. Meador and GN Punk retain the lead, but its getting mighty crowded at the top!

Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Standings

Name Score
Name Score
Jake Meador 16
GN Punk 16
Pardeep Cattry 15
Alex Greenberg 14
Brian Mechanick 14
Matthew Pachniuk 14
Dustin Menno 14
Luke Zimmermann 13
Earl of Shoop 11
Brian Meyers 10
Skipjack 9
Salmon Chase 8
Ben Daniels 7
Bryan A. 5
Ed F. 4

Dustin Menno: City are pretty good at home, but Fraudiola is a thing. 2-1 Spurs.

Matthew Pachniuk: We are going to win the league! Spurs 3-1.

Jake Meador: Spurs are in good form, but the loss of Vertonghen likely means a reversion to the old 4-2-3-1 of last season or, more likely, the 3-4-3 with Davies at LCB. That causes us to struggle a bit more. City is in bad form, but at home. 1-1.

Skipjack: 2-1 City because why would anything good happen.

GN Punk: To hell with pessimism. Spurs are playing great. City are a mess in midfield and I want to see the corpse of Zabaleta playing out of position yet again. Spurs put City to the sword, 4-1.

Luke Zimmerman: The Pep bounce back revenge game (tm) is real, y’all. 4-1, City. I’m so, so sorry.

Pardeep Cattry: Despite Spurs' good form (and City's bad form), Vertonghen's absence complicates matters. Some tactical changes are probably in store, and the adjustment may be difficult at first, but Tottenham will get into the swing of things long enough to narrowly beat Manchester City and make Pep (more) sad. Spurs 1-0.

Luke Zimmerman: The Pep bounce back revenge game (tm) is real, y’all. 4-1, City. I’m so, so sorry.

Alex Greenberg: Welp. I'm all in. My heart will eventually be crushed for it, but I believe. Something big can happen this year, our last at White Hart Lane. We're going to grind out a win here. 1-0 Spurs.

Brian Mechanick: As good as our form is, Jan's injury has me shook. A strong performance yields a 1-1 draw and on we go.

Earl of Shoop: Somehow today I'm feeling good vibes despite the turbulent non-football circumstances in the world. That can only mean a thrilling Spurs victory is in the works. Pep rolls out some bizarre lineup, we stick with a back three (Davies in for Jan), and Kane continues his hot streak as we cruise past the worst badge in the premier league. Spurs 3-1.

Bryan A: A midfield of Toure and Zabaleta against Tottenham seems like a dumb idea, even for a team as talented as City. It will be close on the scoreline, but only because Aguero is good. Otherwise, the match will never be in doubt. 2-1 Spurs.