Tottenham v Man. City: Why stumble could be in the offing

Tottenham v Man. City [Photo: Channel 24]

A case of 13 goals conceded – for four losses and a draw — is the dismal head-to-head Tottenham stats in the last five matches against Manchester City.

The last time Spurs celebrated a victory over the Citizens was in 2016 and Pep Guardiola’s team looks relentless in their chase of the quadruple this season.

All indices, therefore, suggest City will get the better of Tottenham on Tuesday at the new White Hart Lane in the first leg quarterfinal UEFA Champions League match but football not being Calculus could throw up an anomaly.

Tottenham’s manager, Mauricio Pochettino, told his players to be brave and aggressive in their approach on Tuesday.

“From the first moment, we need to be brave and try to win the game – that is our idea and challenge for the game tomorrow,” he said in his pre-match press conference on Monday.

He added, “Manchester City are one of the best teams in the world – it is a massive challenge. I told the players it’s a bonus. Play with freedom, run, tackle, play, shoot, save. Tomorrow is a bonus and we need to try to play with freedom and try to be ourselves.”

Guardiola will also be ready for Spurs’ aggressive approach as he disclosed in his press conference.

“Always when we play against them, they play aggressively. If they do it, we have to try to do it more. Maybe they will play one against one, high pressing, and we will prepare against that.”

Surely, City are a formidable challenge but one that can be surmounted, looking at the recent results of Guardiola’s team. In City’s last four matches, an element of struggle has revealed itself as opposition teams now look better equipped to deal with City’s forward thrusts.

They struggled against Swansea and didn’t look so swashbuckling against Cardiff, Brighton, and Fulham. Therein stands Tottenham’s chance – being aggressive and knowing the limits.

Head to head

29/10/18 PRL Tottenham 0 – 1 Man. City

14/04/18 PRL Tottenham 1 – 3 Man. City

16/12/17 PRL Man. City 4 – 1 Tottenham

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29/07/17 ICC Man. City 3 – 0 Tottenham

21/01/17 PRL Man. City 2 – 2 Tottenham

Three duels to watch

Davinson Sanchez v Sergio Aguero

Sanchez can be twitchy at times but he must be calm and collected in this duel with Aguero. The Argentine dynamo is back from injury and brings his considerable goal-scoring prowess. Any hope of Spurs getting to the semi-final will be firmly hinged on not conceding on Tuesday evening.

Kieran Trippier v Raheem Sterling

The most dangerous City player is Sterling and he now also poses a goal scoring threat, which means Trippier must be aware of City’s wide man always. Even though the Spurs’ wingback is good going forward, what Pochettino will want on Tuesday evening is for the England man to concentrate on dealing with Sterling’s challenge.

Dele Alli v Fernandinho

Alli is still not a 100 per cent fit but must run that extra mile for the cause on Tuesday to stop Fernandinho in his tracks.

Whether it is going forward or backward, Spurs must find a way to block the City tyro from dictating the rhythm from his position as the defensive midfield anchor. Alli has the energy and possesses some arts to excel in this task.

What the Managers are saying

“If the teams are close, the first thing you need to do is run. Players like David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Sterling, Agüero, first it’s to run. They have unbelievable quality of course but first, they run.” – Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham Manager

“The stadium affects the spectators but if we think about what we have to do on the pitch, it doesn’t affect us. We know what we are going to face and it’s in our heads as to how we handle it. If we want to progress as a team we have to handle it.” – Pep Guardiola, Manchester City Manager

Probable XIs

Tottenham [3-4-2-1]: Lloris; Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Rose, Sissoko, Winks, Trippier; Eriksen, Alli; Kane

Man. City [4-3-3]: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Laporte; D. Silva, Fernandinho, De Bruyne; Sterling, B. Silva, Aguero

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