Tottenham’s recent run of results against Manchester City in the Premier League does not make for pleasant viewing for the Spurs faithful. With one win in the last eight and a goal difference of -13 in the last three matches alone, Spurs fans could be forgiven for some pre-match trepidation. There are, however, reasons to be optimistic that Spurs can end the dreadful recent run of form.
Manchester City have had a far from spectacular campaign, picking up just seven wins in their 15 Premier League games this calendar year. Manuel Pellegrini has come under fire for his side's lacklustre performances and his own tactical approach. Spurs, meanwhile, have gone some way towards redressing their tendency to capitulate against the ‘bigger’ sides in recent seasons. Home form has improved this term with wins against Arsenal, Chelsea and Southampton, along with a goalless draw against Manchester United. The sole home defeat to a rival came three games into the season - Liverpool leaving the Lane with all three points against an unsettled and unrecognisable Spurs side featuring the forgotten men Younes Kaboul, Emmanuel Adebayor and Etienne Capoue.
Much has changed since that game back in August. Spurs now have an identity, a style of play which, when it works, can be hard to live with. The Ryan Mason/Nabil Bentaleb partnership is far from perfect but what it does provide is an energy and tenacity that can overwhelm opponents. Adding Mousa Dembele just ahead gives an extra presence which the largely static City midfield trio of Fernando, Yaya Toure and Frank Lampard will struggle to contain. Mauricio Pochettino has used the Belgian sparingly in recent months but Sunday is the perfect time to reintroduce a player who thrives on the big stage.
The vastly improved Danny Rose should return at left-back, delivering a familiar back four free of Vlad Chiriches’ erratic influence and Ben Davies' indecisiveness. With Vincent Kompany still sidelined through injury, Harry Kane will fancy his chances against the shaky Eliaquim Mangala/Martin Demichelis pairing and a supporting cast of Nacer Chadli, and Christian Eriksen means Spurs always carry a goal threat. As Spurs' season faces the danger of petering out, the arrival of City on Sunday should spark a response from the home team. City were fortunate to come away with three points against Aston Villa on Saturday and their indifferent form will give confidence to a Spurs side who seem to enjoy the big occasion at White Hart Lane.
Possible starting XI for Sunday:
Dier Fazio Vertonghen Rose