Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City
Two of the world’s finest coaches come head-to-head again this weekend when Pep Guardiola takes his Manchester City side to Tottenham in search of a 17th Premier League win.
He meets his old foe Jose Mourinho once again, as the Portuguese manager, ‘formerly known as the Special One’ has taken up his post at Tottenham Hotspur.
Premier League: Spurs vs Manchester City isn’t just about Jose and Pep, but these two head coaches have locked horns many times before. They’ve faced each other in the Champions League and most acrimoniously, during Guardiola’s reign at Barcelona while Mourinho managed Real Madrid.
A 5-0 defeat to the Blaugrana in his first El Clasico was surely one of the biggest humiliations in Mourinho’s career and not one which he will have readily forgotten! But he has made a habit of winning the big games in the Premier League and the current champions will come under serious scrutiny on Sunday.
While City have pretty much given up on making it a third Premier League title on the bounce, the Spurs – after a stop start campaign – sit in sixth place and only six points behind Chelsea in the final Champions League spot.
That race is still very much on.
The Jose effect
After winning his first three games in charge, the Spurs haven’t exactly been flying under Mourinho.
But he has done better than his predecessor by taking 20 points from his first 12 league matches, while Mauricio Pochettino managed only 14 points from his last 12 games in charge.
Mourinho plays a more direct and high pressing game and his side has won more possession in the final third of the pitch than any other Premier League side since he arrived.
With Christian Eriksen finally gone to Inter Milan, Spurs can now move on with clarity. The Danish attacking midfielder has been one of the most influential players in the league in recent seasons. But since he decided he wanted away, he has been a shadow of his former self, which must have been hugely frustrating for the fans who know just how good he is.
Spurs could do with captain and top scorer Harry Kane making a comeback and he has stepped up his return from a hamstring injury.
In the meantime, Heung-Min Son — who deputised so capably during Kane’s absence last season — and Dele Alli must take responsibility up front. Both were on target when Spurs beat Norwich last time out at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has ruled out a deadline day return to Spurs of Gareth Bale.
De Bruyne is becoming unplayable
A return to Spurs of their former hero would set the pulses racing at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but even he would struggle to match up to Manchester City’s most creative player.
Kevin de Bruyne has made a colossal 15 assists so far this season, five more than Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and eight more than the rest of the Premier League pack.
Sergio Aguero has been a beneficiary and he too has been in sensational form, scoring the only goal in the away win at Sheffield United to make it 16 for the season.
City drew a blank on Wednesday, but they are through to the final of the Carabao Cup after narrowly beating Manchester United over two legs.
Previously injured Aymeric Laporte has re-appeared, which is great news for the Sky Blues as his absence has universally been blamed for their inability to challenge Liverpool.
The head to heads favour the hosts with Spurs winning 24 of the last 50 matches and City winning 18 while there have been eight draws.
There have been two highly significant Spurs vs Manchester City results over the past 12 months, neither of which the Sky Blues will be pleased to remember.
A 2-2 draw at the Etihad back in August was City’s first slip up of the season and it was full of VAR controversy as a late winner from Gabriel Jesus was disallowed because the ball brushed Laporte’s hand in the build up.
And there was drama too when Spurs put City out of the Champions League last season at the quarter final stage.
The Sky Blues were on target for a historic quadruple and thought they’d scored an injury time decider, but this time Raheem Sterling’s goal was denied by the technology which spotted Aguero had strayed slightly offside in the build up.
You have to love VAR!
Both teams come into the match on good runs with City have won the last three away from home while Spurs are unbeaten in four at home.