Spurs at home is, typically, one of the games I look forward to the most. Not because I have a burning hatred of all that they stand for and beating them means absolutely everything, like United. Not even because I see their visit as an unmissable crunch-match between two mega-clubs fighting for the title. Insert your own jokes about putting the pressure on here.
No, I look forward to Spurs at home simply because it always seems to produce a cracking game of football. Some of my greatest memories of City in recent years have come from this fixture. Who could forget that crucial Crouch own-goal that sent us into the Champions League for the first time? And what about that incredible 6-0 victory, when Jesus Navas scored after 14 seconds? Remember when Aguero scored 4 goals and missed a penalty in a frantic 4-1 victory? And how about when Mario Balotelli converted a 93rd minute penalty moments after Jermain Defoe missed a sitter to secure a dramatic 3-2 win?
In short, it’s always great fun when Spurs come to town. And, with City in record-breaking form, I expect nothing less tomorrow. 16 consecutive Premier League wins is on the line, but our visitors, with the likes of Kane, Eriksen and the inform Son, are more than capable of bringing that to an end.
There is, therefore, no doubt that Pep will field his strongest possible side. Let’s have a look at his options.
It seems to be same old same old in terms of notable absentees for City. Kompany, Stones and Mendy are all ruled out, that despite some encouraging reports of progress from Stones and Kompany in Guardiola’s pre-match press conference, with the former said to be ready “In one or two weeks”, and the latter “hopefully in the next few days”. Pep didn’t entirely rule out Kompany, saying “I don’t know tomorrow if he’ll be fit”, but I for one would be extremely surprised to see his name on the team sheet come 4:30pm tomorrow.
With all that in mind, I think the back 5 is fairly easy to predict. Ederson, with another cool performance in South Wales, practically picks himself in goal, along with Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala, whose place, despite a very decent performance in midweek, is very much owing to the absence of others. Fabian Delph will almost certainly slip into the left-back position, with Kyle Walker, all nice and rested, lining up on the right of the defence against his former club.
The midfield also begins predictably – I imagine Fernandinho will be getting his overalls ready for another gruelling 90 minutes in the engine room tomorrow. In front of him, after a quite simply ridiculous performance on Wednesday, David Silva will almost certainly line up alongside the magical Kevin De Bruyne. It would be a pretty bold decision from Pep to leave this trio out, and I really don’t think that he would ever do such a thing, unless he’s lost his mind.
This, however, is where it gets a bit trickier. Bernardo Silva will certainly feel like he deserves a shot in this game after such a fantastic effort in midweek, but something tells me that the two other superstar wingers at the club will have something to say about that. Personally, I can see Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling both getting the nod, with their touchline-hugging abilities along with their lightning pace being the deciding factors. Pep will certainly feel that Serge Aurier in particular, with no disrespect to the man who scored a completely intentional 40-yard screamer at Wembley the other day, represents a defensive zone that can be exploited with in-behind runs, the likes of which Sané and Sterling make a living on.
Then there’s the striker situation. Aguero played with a fiery determination on Wednesday, crashing in shots from all angles as he looked to wrestle his starting place, no longer guaranteed, back from Gabriel Jesus. The Argentine scored a fantastic solo goal, but was denied spectacularly by Fabianski on numerous occasions and fired a few wide. But did he do enough to earn a start?
I’m going to say yes. Sergio Aguero might be our record goal scorer, but he still has a point to prove. And, his scoring record against Tottenham, is, to say the least, remarkable. Jesus won’t be happy with a place on the bench, but having played the full 90 minutes at Old Trafford, I think its only fair to give our legendary striker another chance to add to his 179 City goals, and his 10 against Spurs.
On the back of such a great performance midweek, the biggest loser from this prediction would undoubtedly be Bernardo Silva. Yet, if the need arises, Pep certainly doesn’t have a lack of exciting attacking talent on the bench, not least Gabriel Jesus, raring and eager to go.
It should be a great game Blues. Let’s make it 16.