When is the best time to face Manchester City? West Ham may have thought that it was the first week of the season, when the clubs are all promise and expectation, but with enormous unknowns. That didn’t work out — the two-time defending Premier League champions blitzed the new-look Hammers 4-1 last Saturday.
Maybe it’s the end of the season, when teams are tired and may not have much to play for, or after City have played mid-week in an important European cup match. But that hasn’t worked that much either. Last season, City lost only four times all season — at Chelsea, home to Palace, at Leicester, and at Newcastle. The Newcastle match was on January 29; they never dropped points again for the rest of the season.
The truth is, there’s no good time to play City. They’ve won the Premier League twice in a row and are overwhelming favorites to win it again this season because they’re THAT good. They may be one year older, but they’re showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. It’s for that reason that City didn’t make a really huge splash in the window — they didn’t have to. They landed their major targets — £63m for Rodri from Atletico, the SECOND most coveted young central midfielder in Europe (behind Tanguy Ndombele) to replace Fabian Delph, £59m for Joao Cancelo from Juventus to replace Danilo, and £11m for Angelino, a left back from PSV. City didn’t retool as much as reload for the future.
And that’s not to forget their stable of existing stars. Sergio Aguero may be winding down his career, but he knows how to find the back of the net, and early returns suggest Raheem Sterling is finally ready to perhaps challenge for the Golden Boot. City are loaded with talent, and can rotate players in and out based on form, injury, or tactics.
But while Spurs certainly have had their difficulties with City over the past number of years, they beat them perhaps where it counted the most last season: over two legs in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Don’t think that City have forgotten this. Spurs may in theory have closed the gap between themselves and the defending champions, but City is still far and away the best club in England, and quite possibly all of Europe. Spurs’ first trip to the Etihad this weekend will be no walk in the park.
How will Tottenham line up against Manchester City?
The Great Wars of the Carty Free comment sections this past week have mostly focused on the role of Harry Winks in Tottenham’s offense, with many suggesting that while Winks excels in a passing, ball recycling role, he’s still somewhat suspect defensively. The implication was that using Winks against Manchester City could put extra pressure on Spurs’ defensive line; this is a match that needs a destroyer, not a distributor.
I don’t necessarily disagree with this! There is something to be said for having a player that sits deep in midfield and kicks people when they get too close, and that’s not a role that fits Winks all that well. It does, however, suit Eric Dier. However, we have yet to see Dier in preseason or in the regular season. While he’s back in training this week, I don’t know if Pochettino will be ready to throw him back into the fire so quickly. And, with City so robust in the press, having a player who is calm under pressure and is a fast and safe distributor of the ball could be extremely valuable. So I think Winks starts again.
The other main question is whether Pochettino brings Christian Eriksen into the fold from the beginning or not. The midfield diamond had its problems against Aston Villa, and it’s not unreasonable to expect the same sort of growing pains against City, at least to start. Eriksen would provide the much-needed creativity in the absence of Dele Alli. Spurs are again without Dele and Juan Foyth (to injury), and Son Heung-Min (to suspension), meaning it’s possible that the lineup will end up being very similar to how Spurs played against Aston Villa. If Poch is willing to give Eriksen a shot from the start, it’ll be in place of Lamela, not in place of Winks.
The final question is whether Jan Vertonghen has learned whatever lesson Mauricio Pochettino has wanted him to learn from his benching in week 1. If he doesn’t start, then I’m probably going to start getting extremely nervous about the future of Tottenham’s back line.
I don’t feel super confident about this prediction, and to be honest, none of us really know what kind of tactical surprises Pochettino has planned for Poch. That makes this particular lineup tricky to predict. Will Giovani Lo Celso make the bench? Will we see someone s
This is my predicted lineup for Tottenham Hotspur against Manchester City. What’s yours?