Let’s not beat around the bush, tomorrow’s game at White Hart Lane will undoubtedly be our toughest in the Premier League to date in the Pep Guardiola era. Mauricio Pochettino is a worthy opponent for the Manchester City boss, who labelled the 44-year-old Argentine, “one of the best managers in the world”. It was a young Pochettino, then just 36, who held Pep’s iconic Barcelona side to a 0-0 draw after just two training sessions when he took charge of Espanyol back in 2009.
On Sunday, Pochettino will be equipped with a much stronger squad and the Marcelo Bielsa student will hope his high intensity brand of football can overcome Pep’s version. However, like Pochettino, Guardiola has had a big impact of his own and a win at White Hart Lane would make it seven wins out of seven for the league leaders.
There’s no new injury news ahead of this fixture. De Bruyne, Kompany and Delph are all still “two, maybe three weeks away” according to Guardiola, and are in a race to be fit for the Barcelona tie on 19th October. Toure remains unavailable for selection, as does Nolito – who must serve the third and final match of his domestic suspension.
Gündogan AND Silva to start?
Pep’s big decision ahead of Sunday’s crunch game is whether to play Silva and Gündogan again – for what will be their third game in 8 days. Both players have just come back from injury, and given De Bruyne’s absence and our general lack of options in the 8 / 10 positions, I think Pep may exercise a degree of caution. Guardiola has spoken extensively about the importance of “regeneration”, and thus I feel we’ll see one of Gündogan or Silva drop to the bench on Sunday, most likely Gündogan.
Pep will be wary of Fernandinho’s workload too, who looked a little jaded in midweek. Fernandinho has been brilliant in the pivot so far this season, but he has done a lot of running and that won’t have gone unnoticed by the backroom staff. Against a physically robust Tottenham team, I think we’ll see Fernando in the deepest midfield position with Fernandinho slightly higher up, alongside Silva. This move should free Fernandinho from some of his positional responsibilities, whilst allowing us to engage in more of an aggressive press higher up the pitch – something that Spurs have struggled with in the recent past
The last big selection headache is who to play on the other wing – Navas or Sané? This seems obviously, really. In a tight away game against fellow title contenders, it’ll be Navas surely? The attacking capabilities of both Walker and Rose, coupled with their importance to how Tottenham play means that Navas is an absolute shoe-in for me.
So, with all that in mind, here is the team I think Pep will go with:
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