Tell anyone before the season that Tottenham Hotspur was going to to have a three- (and possibly soon four-) match losing streak at some point and few would have batted an eye. That would be normal after any change up top, and especially so given the amount of turnover in the squad as well.
With that stretch marred by injuries and suspensions, it becomes even more explainable. Yet, perhaps Spurs are a slight victim of their own success. A blistering start to the year caused even the most rational of supporters to at least begin to dream, so now this losing streak feels painful, even though it was to be expected.
A trip to Manchester City on Sunday is unlikely to bring much relief for Ange Postecoglou’s battered side, but maybe this could be seen as the conclusion of a fairly tough stretch. There are certainly more tricky fixtures to come, especially with the number of players expected to be out for a while, but none are going to look more daunting than this.
Of course, City is the one club where Tottenham seems to find a way when it really should not. The away win in February 2022 after three-straight losses has obvious similarities, though there is no Harry Kane to put on one of the league’s heroic performances. This one has the chance to get ugly, but at the same time, would anyone be really that shocked to see Spurs sneak out a result?
Manchester City (2nd, 29pts) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (5th, 26pts)
Date: Sunday, December 3
Time: 11:30 am ET, 4:30 pm UK
Location: Etihad Stadium, Manchester
TV: Peacock Premium (USA)
City has not quite been City, with a pair of losses and a pair of draws already this season (much of that due to an absent Rodri). 1.09 xGD/90 is obviously great, but below recent marks of 1.22 and 1.68 from the past two seasons. Erling Haaland is still a machine, though, leading the league with 14 goals in 13 matches, while the defense has been one of the league’s best as well.
In recent years, there have been some heroic performances than have seen Tottenham survive ridiculous City shot totals and still escape with a result. That trend has continued regardless of manager, and Postecoglou seems to be the next in line to test this approach. On paper, Spurs have no business winning this match, but imbalance in squad quality often goes out the window in this head-to-head so who knows.
Lilywhite Spotlight: Organized chaos
A title race was never realistic and would require just about everything to go perfectly. With all of the injuries to key members of the squad, that scenario is long gone. However, Spurs are still just two points off fourth — and four points off the top — so now is not the time to throw in the towel. The first third of the season has had plenty of ups and downs, but on the balance has been pretty good.
Postecoglou has unapologetically refused to change his style regardless of available personnel or game state. Even with a visit to the champions, there will be no backing down. The XI might look a little wild again, and the aggression is likely to make some a bit uncomfortable, but the ask is to once again trust the process.