Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 39: Spurs

Manchester City lost their 100% record under Pep Guardiola on Wednesday night and will be eager to get back to winning ways as quickly as possible. Unfortunately for the Blues, this weekend poses arguably the toughest game of their season so far, as City travel to London to take on last year’s third placed team, Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs have enjoyed a very good start to the season and will be hopeful of securing a win on Sunday themselves.

I caught up with Ross, the founder of @HotspurRelated, to gather his thoughts towards this weekend’s fixture, and his opinions on the two sides in general.

Hi Ross, thanks for joining us. First of all, what have you made of Spurs’ start to the season and has this altered your expectations for the year ahead?

Naturally, expectations may have altered somewhat from the positive start Spurs have made to the season but overall I feel many fans are already aware of the quality we possess it is just how that compares against the big teams that did not perform last season but have since attempted to rectify that with heaving spending in the summer.

Spurs were unfortunate not to win the title last season; who do you see winning it and do Spurs have a realistic chance of taking home the trophy?

My favourites for the title from the opening day of the season were City and the main drive behind such thinking was Pep Guardiola – probably like most people. Spurs however showed the world last season that they have a realistic chance of winning the Premier League and there is no reason we cannot do the same again this campaign and hopefully go one step further. The promising point of view for all Spurs supporters is the squad assembled is one of the youngest, so inevitably should grow stronger season upon season.

What were your thoughts on Spurs’ transfer business? Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen arrived for sizeable fees, have they improved your starting XI or was this summer more about squad depth?

Spurs’ ultimate downfall last season was probably the lack of squad depth, as we saw Mauricio Pochettino effectively forfeit our Europa League campaign and pay little attention to the domestic cups available whilst his small squad was stretched to the brink. Thankfully, to the clubs credit, this summer we addressed such issue and saw the early arrivals of many players that could not only offer the established first eleven a rest but provide a competitive alternative both on the field and tactically.

Is there an area of the Spurs squad which you believe to be particularly strong or weak?

Perhaps I am currently caught up in the form of Heung-Min Son that his goals are masking something, but I feel there are no longer any evident weaknesses amongst the current squad at Spurs. Last season we had a great starting eleven but it was the bench that was lacking but that has since been addressed and we look all the stronger for it as Mauricio Pochettino continues to rotate his bigger squad but manages to maintain our early-season form.

Onto your opponents this weekend, Manchester City. What are your perceptions of City as a club, both past and present?

I cannot speak for all Spurs fans of course but I have always seen evident similarities between the clubs when it comes to competing. As at the start of the millennium both clubs continued to battle in mid-table mediocrity as our rivals shined. Since then we have competed against each other as we both climbed the table, competing for that fourth spot place a few years ago. Our strategy to climb that same table have been remarkably different however and of course being bias I prefer our approach as we continue to stick to an English core and as a result have since seen the birth of many academy graduates into the first-team squad – most notably Harry Kane. One of our own.

Where do you see the game being won and lost on Sunday?

Like most Pep Guardiola teams the battle shall be won in midfield. If City are on their game and continue to show the impressive form they have started this season with then it is an understatement to then say Spurs will have a game on our hands and an extremely tough one at that, perhaps too tough. Such importance and influence in the centre of the pitch on Sunday only further highlights our need to have Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele return to the team – who are an equally impressive pair when at full flight.

Finally, please could we have your Spurs team prediction and your prediction for the final score?

I suspect the Spurs team, with many players still at 50/50 whether they will reach match fitness and be available, will be: Lloris, Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose. Dier, Wanyama. Son, Eriksen, Lamela. Janssen.

I feel this game has the potential to be a classic game in the Premier League and am therefore going with the prediction of 2-2! I hope you enjoy the game, just not as much as me.

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