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Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City FA Cup Preview: The immoveable object

Spurs drew the toughest team in the country, but City drew their worst nightmare.

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Look, everyone already knows the narrative, but still is it worth laying out (partially for the comedy, partially because the best meme in football may finally be coming to an end). Since the opening of the new White Hart Lane, no team has been more dominant than Manchester City. Yet this club, which has won the Premier League in four of the five seasons during this span, has a clear Achilles heel.

That — inexplicable, yet hilarious — kryptonite is Tottenham Hotspur, specifically in North London. In five road contests against Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo, and Antonio Conte, City has lost every single time at the new stadium, scoring exactly zero (0) goals. From the Champions League quarterfinal to the Steven Bergwijn debut to the Harry Kane record-breaker, each win has been extremely memorable.

After a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Etihad in December, Ange Postecoglou now has the responsibility to carry on this trend at home. City will of course visit again in the league in April, but first comes a Fourth Round FA Cup tie with both teams feeling hopeful about their prospects, both in this competition and the second half of the season.

Fourth Round: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City

Date: Friday, January 26
Time: 3:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
TV: ESPN+ (USA), ITV 1 (UK)

The positive news for Tottenham is that City will not be at full strength. Erling Haaland is expected to be out, while Ederson, John Stones, and Kevin De Bruyne are not at 100 percent. There will be no shortage of quality from whoever Pep Guardiola is able to deploy, but there is at least a little balance given Spurs’ own absences, though the return of James Maddison with certainly help the home side.

City has won four in a row across all competitions including a 5-0 dismantling of Huddersfield Town in the Third Round and a back-and-forth win over Newcastle two weeks ago. As elite as this side can be though, it has not been a flawless season, with seven draws and losses in the league already after accumulating just 10 all last year. Combine this with the boogeyman curse and there is a real chance at the upset here.

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The previous five victories in North London all featured decent attacking performances from City, yet an inability to find the back of the net. Guglielmo Vicario looks like the perfect way for Spurs to continue this trend, and any sort of upset is likely to feature some incredible stops, as he has shown many times already in his short tenure.

The real responsibility will fall on the defenders though, which (hopefully) includes recovering Micky van de Ven and Cristian Romero and maybe an acclimating Radu Dragusin. This is the sort of match that just feels uncomfortable for 90 minutes, but these are the types of defenders that can lock down even the best attackers in the country.