Manchester City vs Tottenham: Five key battles

Both in need of points to push towards the top of the table, a number of personal battles between top-class players will be of real interest.

With both sides having up-and-down starts to the new season, Manchester City and Tottenham clash at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Both sides have superstars throughout, but it will be a number of personal battles that decide the victor of this high-quality encounter.

Yaya Toure vs Sandro

The Ivorian is the man that makes City click, and his unbelievable athleticism and work-rate make him one of the best in his position in Europe.

Many have failed to shackle the African in his time in the Premier League, and it will most likely fall to Sandro to go up against the Barcelona man after a positive second-half showing against Newcastle in Spurs’ last game.

The Brazil international has the physical ability to go toe-to-toe with Toure, but must keep his discipline if he is to limit the City talisman’s influence.

Fernandinho vs Paulinho

Another midfield battle, Fernandinho certainly has something to prove against his countryman with the World Cup only six months away.

In the absence of the injured Christian Eriksen, Paulinho will be tasked with the responsibility of getting forward to support his attackers and as such will run directly into the City enforcer.

Still to show top form for City, Fernandinho seems to rise to the big games and will be motivated to make a statement against Paulinho here.

Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo vs Michael Dawson

Just who Spurs play at centre-half remains to be seen, but Michael Dawson will certainly be one of the two defenders to face Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo.

The Spurs skipper will battle physically against Negredo, and will relish the opportunity to tussle with the Spain international.

However, he could well be found out in one-on-one situations against the sprightly Aguero. As such, Andre Villas-Boas must select Dawson’s centre-half partner carefully.

Matija Nastasic vs Roberto Soldado

With no Vincent Kompany to lead the City backline, the young Serb will be asked to step up and put in a commanding performance against the visiting north Londoners.

Roberto Soldado will look to get space against a City back four that has looked susceptible in the absence of their captain, and the game could well suit him as Spurs hit on the break.

The ex-Valencia forward has a lot to still prove at Spurs, while if the Spain World Cup squad was picked today he would not be in it.

Kyle Walker and Andros Townsend vs Gael Clichy

Spurs can expect to soak up a fair amount of pressure, with City likely to have the bulk of possession. With the majority of the play in the Tottenham half, it may well actually suit the visitors, who will look to hit Manuel Pellegrini’s side on the break.

Whether Gael Clichy or Aleksandar Kolarov plays for City, Spurs can get joy down their right. Villas-Boas will urge Andros Townsend and Kyle Walker to get forward and try to isolate the home side’s left-back, with neither potential incumbent especially strong going back towards their own goal.

image: © Free-ers

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