Premier League matches don’t get much bigger or more important than this one. Tottenham Hotspur welcome Manchester City to Wembley Stadium in what could be a statement match for Spurs in this first part of the league season. The Citizens are the defending league champions, have only improved their squad from last season, and are one of three teams still undefeated after nine games.
The table says that City are fighting for the league with Liverpool, with Spurs, Chelsea, and Arsenal lurking just two points behind, but Mike Goodman at Statsbomb makes a compelling case that the table is lying. For Goodman, the stats make a compelling case that City are far and away the best team in the Premier League, and might be the best ever Premier League team.
City lead the league in goals scored, goals allowed, shots, and xG. At 30 years old, Sergio Aguero currently leads the league in goals scored. City have an absolute wealth of attacking talent at their disposal, including but by no means restricted to Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Leroy Sane, and Bernardo Silva. That list also doesn’t include Riyad Mahrez, whom City purchased this summer, or Kevin De Bruyne, who recently returned to the side after missing two months due to injury.
Last season, this exact same Spurs team lost to City 4-1 at the Etihad and 3-1 at Wembley Stadium. This year’s City is even better. This is an incredible football team. I’m in awe of them and scared out of my mind about Monday.
Spurs haven’t been at their best lately and even when they were (like against PSV) they have somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And yet, they are only two points behind City, have their best creative player in Christian Eriksen back, and are able to hang with any team in the league if they play at their best.
That’s pretty much what they’ll need to do if they want to grab a result against City on Monday. If they win, they would be the first team to do so this season. It would be an incredible achievement, a statement win for this Spurs side, which has seemed to have a yoke over their necks for the entirety of this short season. Difficult, to be sure. But what if they did?
How will Tottenham line up against Manchester City?
There don’t appear to be too many lineup conundrums for Spurs heading into this match. No matter how Spurs decide to start the match, they will face the same fearsome challenge: containing not only the best team in the Premier League, but one of the best in Europe.
The good news for Spurs is that Christian Eriksen appears to be fully recovered from his abdominal injury, based on his outstanding performance against PSV in the Champions League midweek. That’s huge for Spurs, as they will need his creative spark to have any chance of breaking down City’s defense. The other bit of good news involves Dele Alli, who rejoined training this week after re-injuring his hamstring in late September. However, it seems unlikely that Pochettino would throw him straight back into the starting lineup after making it clear that he intends to be careful with Dele to make sure he doesn’t suffer a setback.
Some rotation should be expected in the attacking midfield ranks. Erik Lamela is on a hot streak, and in an important match I anticipate the Argentine (and his sharp elbows) get the nod over Son Heung-Min, who played most of the match midweek. As good as he was against PSV, I have my doubts about playing Mousa Dembele twice in a week, so I predict Harry Winks comes back into the side. I also think this is the week that Serge Aurier returns, giving Trippier a deserved rest.
That’s my predicted starting lineup for Tottenham against Manchester City. What’s yours?