Venue: Etihad Stadium
Date: 14 February 2016
Kick off: 16:15
I found myself questioning my love for this club last weekend. Can I continue to devote my weekends to watching Otamendi and Demichelis play slip and slide? Do I have it in myself to laugh off another one of Kolarov’s insulting 40 yard efforts? The answer, of course, is yes to both, but the Leicester f*** up almost snapped the heart strings.
But what better time to fall in love again than February 14th? It’s Valentine’s Day, Blues, and a win against Spurs this weekend would put City back in the good books.
This fixture evokes the fondest of memories. That cocksure last-minute Balotelli penalty in 2012 (so beautifully arrogant), that Negredo rocket a year later (core blimey!), that famous Jon Macken header back in 2003 (can anyone remember what else he did for us?). City vs Spurs has been a fixture that has defined what both clubs have been about for the last five years: City an unrelenting attacking machine and Spurs a there or there-abouts club that melts like butter under the heat of a top four opponent. We’ve scored 16 goals in our last five home games against the North Londoners and we’re all delighted to be facing them this weekend after such a harrowing experience against Leicester last week. Am I right?
Sadly, I’m not. The times they are a changin’ and it’s possible that we could be on the end of another pummeling come Sunday afternoon. Make no mistake about it, Tottenham – managed by perhaps the most beguiling young coach in the division – are title contenders. With four wins in their last four Premier League fixtures, Spurs have quietly crept up on leaders Leicester like a German to a sunbed and could go within two points of the summit if the Foxes lose against Arsenal tomorrow. But reaching such altitude would also require Pochettino’s young cavalry to do something they haven’t done in over five years: beat us at the Etihad Stadium.
With 19-year-old Dele Alli proving why dipping into the lower divisions can be a risk worth taking, Harry Kane bagging goals for fun and Toby Alderweireld continuing to show why he was the signing of the summer, our record against Spurs is one of the only things we can take confidence from heading into the tie. Since May 2010 when a solitary Peter Crouch goal clinched the final Champions League spot for his side, we’ve slapped the Yids around like a grandmother with a fly swat on home turf, not stopping until the bastard is dead. The last two have been 4-1 victories, and the one before that was a delicious 6-0 in 2013. Sergio has more fun than most in this fixture – he’s scored 10 in 8 and has only experienced one loss – but this is a new defence he’s dealing with. The best defence in the league, in fact.
I’m mentioning him again, but that’s largely down to Alderweireld. At £11.5m, the Belgian was a real steal and the partnership he’s forged with Vertonghen has been crucial in Spurs’ ascent up the table. At this stage last term, Tottenham had conceded more goals (36) than any other side in the top 10; fast forward a year, and Hugo Lloris has seen only 19 hit the back of his net. That’s a remarkable improvement given they’ve welcomed only one new player into their starting back four this season.
With Vertonghen still injured, though, Kevin Wimmer will be faced with the unpleasant task of handling Agüero. The 23-year-old Austrian has received support from his manager ahead of the challenge, but would Mauricio be offering such encouraging words if he wasn’t expecting his inexperienced defender to be on the end of a thorough dicking from a player he said “plays like Mozart” in 2014?
When the club proudly announced the CFA in 2014, they forgot to mention that the facility was actually built on the graveyard of a voodoo queen. Fabian Delph is the latest player to visit the injury room and is expected to be out for up to 7 weeks with an Achilles problem. Bacary Sagna, our best defender this season, is also out with a knee injury leaving us all with the depressing inevitability of Otamendi and Demichelis lining up together again.
Or does it?! Vinny is fit and available for the first time since Boxing Day according to the manager, but I wouldn’t bank on him starting. The club reckon they’ve cracked his mysterious calf issue, but there’ll be a hell of a lot of caution this time. David Silva, despite spending the majority of the week in Spain in a bid to solve his ankle problem, is also fit to play. Strange.
Picking the line up for this one isn’t a task I’d fancy, I’ll leave that to Lloyd and Manuel, but whatever the starting XI looks like tomorrow, I can’t see us winning. All I can do is beg the boys not to make my Valentines’ Day an even more miserable occasion than it’s already going to be.
Predict the score:
[statsfc-score-predictor key=”D8SJIk7F6vySBuDaFQRSHy11xfbyCt18uXRinj2b” team=”Man City” date=”2016-02-14″ default_css=”true”]