Venue: White Hart Lane
Date: 2 October 2016
Referee: Andre Marriner
Kick off: 14:15
The perfect run is over. Pep Guardiola’s new-look Manchester City were finally held to a draw on Wednesday against Celtic. Still, ten wins out of eleven doesn’t sound too shabby, does it?
Celtic proved to be extremely plucky opponents in midweek. Their commitment to their cause, along with a hostile atmosphere allowed them to push City all the way. Now it’s back to the Premier League though, where our 100% start is still intact. However, a tough trip to Spurs will surely test that to the very limit. So, what is there to discuss?
City are Resilient
I admit that I was feeling highly disappointed following the game on Wednesday. I felt that both the result and performance were very sloppy. Now that I’ve calmed a bit, I can see that the result was a little bit better than I’d first thought. The satisfaction to be taken from a draw usually depends on the finer details. Had City surrendered three leads at Celtic Park, the draw would’ve been heavily criticised. Instead, City showed resilience and character to come back three times. Necessity is the mother of invention. So far, City haven’t needed to show resilience really, with the exception of a short spell here and there. They were thrust into a difficult environment on Wednesday and didn’t lose, despite the prospect facing us three times. As much as a team of our quality should be winning against Celtic, their record at Celtic Park has to be acknowledged and better teams than ours have struggled there. If the game in Scotland has showed us anything, it’s that City are certainly capable of digging their heels in and grafting for a result.
A Performance Upgrade is Essential
Despite our resilience, City’s inability to defend on Wednesday was concerning. If City turn up at White Hart Lane on Sunday expecting to defend like that and take so much as a point, they can think again. Several key players had particularly poor games on Wednesday. Whether or not you put it down to an off night or something deeper probably forms your optimism or pessimism for this weekend’s game in London. Fernandinho looked well off the pace, Gündogan looked ineffective, Nolito couldn’t retain possession. Defensively, Gael Clichy had a decent game, but that’s as far as it went. Zabaleta, Otamendi and Kolarov all struggled. Tottenham are a far, far better side than Celtic. So, if City want to take a result home this weekend, they better buck their ideas up quickly. In all honesty, I think Wednesday was a bit of an off night. We didn’t possess the required efficiency to get over the line, but I’m expecting a different game on Sunday, with many improved performances.
Raheem Sterling is Evolving
Raheem was simply sensational at Celtic. Amidst an array of average performances, he illuminated Celtic Park with direct play, clever dribbling and a finish that Sergio Aguero himself would’ve been proud of. Raheem is a different animal this season. I hate to say I told you so, but I’ve been saying for over twelve months that this guy would flourish under Guardiola, and that’s exactly what is happening. Hang your head in shame if you thought Raheem was finished because he’d struggled to find form in the most depressing of Pellegrini systems. The exciting thing? Sterling isn’t even close to his best. He will continue to evolve, confidence being the catalyst. Pep has Raheem looking like he wants to play football again, and ultimately I think we are on course to witness the birth of a superstar. Against an attacking side like Tottenham on Sunday, Sterling should have plenty of opportunities to stretch his legs. I’m expecting another good performance from our young English prodigy.
Who Can Hurt Us?
In football, there are few things as valuable as form. When everything falls just right, it’s very hard to stop a player. Son Heung-Min is scoring at will at the minute, with another in midweek in Moscow for Tottenham. The South Korean winger is looking an incredibly exciting prospect for Spurs, after a sluggish start to life in England last season. I think City will do well to stop him influencing the game.
My record of three correct predictions came to an end in midweek – so there is no point putting your mortgage on this one. Sunday’s game is a tricky one to predict. However, I’m feeling confident. Spurs had a long trip in midweek to contend with, and City will be alert following their result in Scotland. I’m expecting a tight City win. 1-0, with Aguero scoring the only goal.
Predict the score:
[statsfc-score-predictor key=”D8SJIk7F6vySBuDaFQRSHy11xfbyCt18uXRinj2b” team=”Man City” date=”2016-10-02″ default_css=”true”]