Sunday, 11 November 2012

City vs Spurs: Match Preview

City press for media recognition

By Dave Walker

So the media darlings of Spurs will roll up at the Etihad Stadium with all the jaundiced anti-Manchester City journalists hoping Andre Villas Boas’ team can end the champions’ near two year unbeaten home run.

It was even worse when Harry Redknapp was indulging in an appreciation society with the journalists, but even the demise of Redknapp hasn’t stopped the Spurs adulation society.

The contrast as to how the two clubs are portrayed in the press is staggering. City remain unbeaten in the Premier League and are cheated out of the Champions League by a dodgy Danish ref and yet still court negativity.

Spurs lose at home to unfancied Wigan and then beat a bunch of Slovenian no hopers – NK Maribor – but are still lauded for their wonderful free-flowing play. Pathetic.

Only a few weeks ago City were being pilloried for leaking goals - they couldn’t keep a clean sheet for love nor money. After 10 games City once again have the best defensive record in the PL…and that’s despite the constant changes to the back three or back four line ups.

City’s defence have conceded one goal more this time out than the eight shipped at the same stage in 2011. Such a subtle distinction between fact and insidious ‘Fleet Street’ flannel.

Tottenham are supposed to be the ‘great entertainers’, so why have they scored a goal less than ‘crisis ridden City’?

Spurs have only one player that would walk into the City team – Gareth Bale – that’s it. Yes, Spurs have a good first XI but lack strength in depth.

There’s no denying City are not playing as fluently as this time last year but all of a sudden the maxim of a great side winning when not playing well doesn’t apply any more. The loss of David Silva for the last five games has been a major blow for Roberto Mancini, especially in the Champions League ties against Ajax, but the wheels have certainly not come off.

If the little Spanish magician had been available I would beg to suggest City would have taken six rather than one point off the Dutchmen.  Hopefully Silva’s return is imminent and he can at least make the sub’s bench against Spurs.

Not that long ago Spurs were City’s out and out bogey team. Ex Totteham and England keeper Paul Robinson once joked with me that Spurs called City’s ground ‘Three Point Stadium’ because they always, always, won at the CoMS or the Etihad.

Well they’ve lost the last two crucial encounters and Mancini’s men must make it a hat-trick to keep on track to retain their title.

Silva’s return would be a huge tonic. Having Joleon Lescott, James Milner and Maicon back in the mix would be most welcome as well.

Mancini may well go with what is arguably his best back four of Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic and Clichy – despite the abysmal display at the two set pieces leading to Ajax goals on Tuesday.

A midfield of the irrepressible Yaya, Barry, Garcia and Nasri should be able to get the job done if Silva is still not ready to start.

Aguero and Tevez should once again be nailed on as the front pairing.

Bale is the obvious Spurs threat so maybe avoid one-on-ones with Maicon at all costs. Jermain Defoe should never be under-estimated, especially with his propensity for scoring against City, and the Blues will know they’ve been in a game.

Should he appear, City old boy, Emmanuel Adebayor would get a less than favourable reception, but Captain Kompany should have his measure if it comes to combat.

It promises to be an intriguing affair and, if City can make it 32 wins and 3 draws in the last 35 we can look forward to the tabloids rejoicing at such an astonishing run of domestic domination in M11 3FF.

Then again, perhaps not.

Player watch

                                  Sergio Aguero                             vs                    Jan Vertonghen

   Photo 1: Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe                          Photo 2: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images Europe

City’s defence has been criticised this term but the reality is the attack have scored only half as many goals after 10 games as they had last season.

If Sergio Aguero can seriously get the measure of Vertonghen, the cultured Belgian colleague of City skipper Vincent Kompany, Spurs could be in for a long day.

Aguero is showing signs of his sharpness returning after an early season injury and is ready to embark of a goalscoring spree. But if Vertonghen can nullify Aguero it could pave a way for Spurs to crack City’s domination at the Etihad.

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2012

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