Sunday, 21 April 2013

Match Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City

City travel to London in hope of securing second place

By Aaron Leggott

Manchester City travel to North London for the second consecutive weekend - but this time it is Premier League duty for the English Champions as Tottenham entertain the Blues at White Hart Lane.

Attacking duo David Silva and Sergio Aguero are expected to miss the game through hamstring injuries whilst Spurs will be handed with a big boost with Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe all set to feature after recovering from injuries.

Edin Dzeko celebrates after scoring the winner against Tottenham last November.
Official MCFC Facebook

City come into the game as arguably the league's form team after eight wins in their last nine games and they will be hoping to grab another victory to reduce the gap at the top to 10 points for at least 24 hours.

Of course, nobody at the club is expecting to retain the trophy now and it is more about reducing the gap. But if United do drop points on Monday night at home to Aston Villa - then maybe we might see a bit of doubt creeping into their minds.

The return of Gareth Bale comes at a good time for Spurs who compared to City have stuttered recently without their talisman. This game is probably now their biggest of their season apart from the upcoming encounter with Chelsea as they hope to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in three years.

Below is a video of the previous game between the sides as Dzeko scored the winner in a 2-1 victory for the Blues.

My thoughts

Despite a sketchy performance at home to Wigan on Wednesday, we got the three points and that's the main thing that matters at this stage of the season.

As mentioned above, our form is amongst the best in Europe currently and after winning our last four games against Spurs - I am extremely optimistic ahead of the game.

People will probably remember our last visit to White Hart Lane when Edin Dzeko put in a mesmerising performance to push Tottenham aside with ease and I'm sure he'd love to replicate that if given the opportunity tomorrow. 

The untimely return of Bale is not what Mancini will want though as the Welshman has the ability to rip open our defence on his day. He's had an incredible season and it wouldn't surprise me to see him win both Player and Young Player of the Year.

City do perform well in these big fixtures though and will be hoping to continue their 10 game unbeaten record against London clubs this season.

Prediction: 2-0 City

Ahead of the game, we spoke with Tottenham fan Ross Gregory (@RossGregory30) who gave his views on their season so far as well as Gareth Bale:

This fixture last season ended rather badly for Tottenham as you lost 5-1, can you see a different performance from your team on Sunday?

Ross: Definitely. Apart from that disturbing result last season, all our recent fixtures have been very close. You guys will be favourites but I expect the game to be tighter. And with this being a big game for us in terms of Champions League qualification, the White Hart Lane crowd will be up for the game, so i'm confident... unless Dzeko starts!

Key Man: Gareth Bale
Official Spurs' Facebook
What are your thoughts on what Gareth Bale brings to the team?

Ross: He has been outstanding for us this season and with him in the team we always look more likely to score. But I honestly believe that without Lennon in the team he doesn't play as well. With Lennon being a threat on the right, the opposition can't afford to focus purely on Bale, which means Gareth gets a bit more space making him even more of a threat. But you cannot deny the Welshman has fantastic ability and without him this season we would probably be 10th. 

You just have to look at the goals he has scored against West Ham, West Brom, Man United, Norwich and Swansea to see his tekkers - he doesn't score average goals.

Do you think you can keep hold of Bale?

Ross: If we get Champions League football next season I don't see why he would move. Add that with the promise of new players coming in during the summer then I think he'll stay for at least another season. His contract isn't due for renewal and his partner has recently given birth so I can't see him moving abroad. If anything, he will go to United.

AVB got a lot of stick at Chelsea last season but has seemed to have done a good job at Spurs despite losing Modric in the summer. What are your thoughts of him as manager?

Ross: I have to admit I was very sceptical when he joined us. To get rid of Harry and to bring him in seemed so ridiculous. Redknapp had done so well for us and for AVB (a Chelsea reject) to replace him was hard to take. I think I predicted us to finish in the top eight if we were lucky. But, it's been refreshing to see AVB continue to develop Harry's team. With projected financial backing from Levy in summer, he will no doubt bring in some top players as well. The White Hart Lane faithful love a passionate manager and in AVB we have that.

What do you make of Tottenham's season so far?

Ross: To be decided. After starting slowly, we reaslly hit some fantastic form from Dec-Feb which has seen us right in the hunt for the top four. But with a bumpy patch and the loss of key players it seems like a classic Tottenham crumble could make such a promising season finish up being a disappointing one. With a t op four finish though, it will have been a very successful season that was accompanied by a good European campaign unlike some English sides this season.

Who would you say is your key player on Sunday? 

Ross: I'm going to cheat and say two key players. If both fit Bale and Lennon will give us our best chance of coming away with a win. By the sounds of it both are struggling for fitness, so without them our key player will be controversially Adebayor. He seems to play a lot better against his former employers, so if he decides to turn up then he is capable of winning the game on his own. That's a huge IF!

Predicted Spurs line up?

Ross: (4-2-2-1-1): Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto, Parker, Dembele, Sigurdsson, Holtby, Dempsey, Adebayor.

(If Bale and Lennon are fit then they will both start instead of Holtby and Dempsey.

"In Yaya Toure, City have a fantastic player."
Official Spurs' Facebook

Who would you say is City's main threat?

Ross: It's going to be an important battle in the middle of the park and in Yaya Toure, City have a fantastic player that cannot only break up play but bomb forward and grab a few goals. With our many attacking midfielders, most of our attacks are dependant upon them getting forward which will mean we will be susceptible to the counter attack - which the Ivorian is very good at.

And finally.. your prediction?

Ross: I want to say a win for the Spurs. With Bale back we will win no doubt, probably 3-1. Without him then we could be in trouble but thanks to our 10 day rest we should be a lot fresher than your City boys, so I will say 2-2. 

Thanks to Ross for taking the time out to answer the questions and I wish his team luck for the rest of the season (apart from tomorrow!)

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You can also follow Aaron on Twitter: @aaron_leggott

(c) The Sky Blue View 2013

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