Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City: Five Key Battles

Gareth Bale

The match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City could be defined by who is not on the pitch just as much by who is on it, but assuming certain figures recover in time, who will be the key men on Sunday?

Here is a run-down of the key battles...

Mousa Dembele vs Yaya Toure

For all the dazzling skill elsewhere on the pitch, the battle between Dembele and Toure could settle the game. Each has the technical chops to match their physical presence, and their fight for control in the centre of the pitch will be key to which side's attack gets the most possession. The focus might be on whether players like Bale and Aguero are fit for the game, but they could end up being a sideshow to the clash of the titans that will take place in the centre of the pitch.

Gareth Bale vs Pablo Zabaleta

There is every chance he will not make it for the start, but Bale is so important to Spurs' cause that even if he just plays twenty minutes, City will have to be well prepared to deal with him. Zabaleta has been on their outstanding players this season, and will surely come back into the side after Micah Richards played against Wigan midweek. Bale now spends much of his time drifting infield, and Zabaleta will need to deal with him on the flanks, and communicate with the rest of his defence to ensure the Welshman is never unattended in the centre.

Jan Vertonghen vs Sergio Aguero

The Argentine striker is another doubt for the game, but if he recovers from his injury he will be the key figure in Manchester City's attack. After a mixed season with injury and some dips in form, Aguero seems to be back to his best at the moment, and Spurs will need their canny centre half to deal with him. Vertonghen has to be used in the centre on Sunday to combat Aguero, with Assou-Ekotto or Naughton installed at left back.

Vincent Kompany vs Emmanuel Adebayor

Whatever your thoughts on the Togolese striker, there is no doubt he will be crucial to Spurs on Sunday, and if his difficult time at Manchester City can motivate him, he will be a massive threat to the City defence. Kompany is one of the most assured defenders in the league when in and around his penalty box, but if Adebayor can drag him a little further away from goal, then the Belgian can sometimes make rash decisions that the Spurs attack could profit from.

Kyle Walker vs Samir Nasri

Another much derided ex-Arsenal player, Nasri could be as important as Adebayor to proceedings on Sunday as no-one can doubt his talent when on the ball. Kyle Walker has improved in recent weeks after a difficult season, and his attacking play will be almost as important as his defensive work if Lennon and Bale cannot start the match. Nasri will need to help out his full back, but Walker cannot get caught upfield, as the City midfielder can be lethal if given space.

image: © Jan S0L0

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