Manchester City made it a record-breaking 15 straight Premier League wins on Wednesday night. Pep Guardiola’s side dispatched struggling Swansea with a swagger, it one of the least surprising results of the season.
Spurs, meanwhile, were doing their thing. Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United have all dropped points in the last seven days, but the Lilywhites have worked their way back into the top four. Beating Brighton is not quite the same as facing Guardiola’s near-perfect City, mind.
City’s brief dip – where they were not winning by four or five goals a game – is clearly over. Victory over Manchester United put them far clear at the top of the table, and their attacking fluidity returned against Swansea, which must be a concern for Mauricio Pochettino.
If any side can halt City, though, it will be Spurs. The absence of Toby Alderweireld has made them less secure, but they remain the second-best defence in the league (per understat). Unfortunately for Jan Vertonghen and his back line accomplices, City’s defence is the best of the lot.
Injuries have had a minor impact on the league leader’s defence, but not enough to really worry a side that has so much of the ball. To build an attack you usually require possession, and getting that against City is a challenge in itself. Spurs have the league’s best finisher in Harry Kane, though, making the 9/4 available for over 1.5 Tottenham goals a very good price.
Spurs’ resurgence in their last two gives an inkling of hope. The hope, however, might not stretch further than avoiding a thrashing. Their defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United attracted widespread criticism, the visitors cannot afford a performance of that ilk on Saturday evening.
The creative burden lies so significantly with Christian Eriksen for Pochettino’s men. If the Dane can escape City’s hostile press, then there might just be a chance to release the in-form Heung-min Son or Kane.
Son against Kyle Walker is the decisive attacking duel for Spurs. The Asian Footballer of the Year will be their outlet on fast breaks, but he has to avoid tracking Walker’s bursting overlaps. Hold his position up the pitch, and Son could find himself running at one of City’s centre-backs. The former Bayern Leverkusen man is at 10/1 to open the scoring.
While there are flickerings of offensive optimism for the north London club, City’s attack remains the more fearsome. Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva are set to battle for the Player of the Year, and I struggle to see how Spurs can restrict the magnificent duo. Silva netted twice in midweek, and is at 19/5 to score during Saturday’s 90 minutes.
Trying to solely nullify City is a lost cause. Spurs will not stop their hosts scoring. They have to find ways to isolate their defence with sharp counter-attacks, or it will be a replay of how City schooled Chelsea at Stamford Bridge a few weeks ago.
How this match is refereed will be pivotal. City’s attack-stopping fouls are a key part of Guardiola’s defensive plan, and – if they go unpunished – Spurs will be pegged into their final third waiting for the killer blow. That killer blow could come from any angle.
I think Spurs will trouble City more than any other team has, but I do not see them quite having enough to end the streak. The hosts should have enough quality to pick up another victory.
TIP: MANCHESTER CITY 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur (Priced at 28/1 with 888sport)
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*