Tottenham v Man City: Mourinho braces for Premier League title charge

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Tottenham host Manchester City on Saturday Night Football looking to strike a blow to the Premier League favourites’ title ambitions while strengthening theirs.

Tottenham come into the clash on the back of a 1-0 win away to West Bromwich Albion prior to the international break – a third straight victory, with the result taking the London side to second place on the log and boosting their prospects of a run for the title.

“We have had a solid start to the season, I still think there is a lot to improve on in all aspects of our game,” said Harry Kane. “There is a long way to go, we are in a solid place at the moment. We are feeling good, but we also know in the Premier League that can turn around if you lose two or three on the bounce.”

Man City, meanwhile, played to a 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool, with the result leaving them in 10th place on the log. However, the Citizens are just six points off the pace of leaders Leicester City and have a game in hand on all but one of the teams above them.

Yet manager Pep Guardiola is angry that the Premier League opted against keeping the five substitutes rules (which was in place at the back end of last season) despite the incredibly congested schedule which is putting strain on the health of players.

“All around the world, five substitutions, yet here we believe we are more special. We don’t protect the players, so that is why it is a disaster,” said Guardiola. “This calendar came from a year before and I will demand for players to come back otherwise it will be difficult to maintain it.”

Key players

Harry Kane – The England striker has demonstrated the full range of his abilities this season, adding an incredible penchant for assists – particularly in favour of attacking partner Son Heung-min – to his already remarkable goal-scoring prowess. Kane will look to find pockets of space between City’s midfield and defence, from which he can send the likes of Gareth Bale and Son in on goal.

Kevin De Bruyne – The masterful midfielder remains one of, if not the best player in the Premier League, with his range of skills matched only by his elegance and football intelligence. If the Belgian playmaker is in peak form, then City automatically become favourites to take all three points at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Head-to-head stats

In head-to-head terms, Tottenham and City have met in 161 matches across all competitions since their first clash back in 1909. The Citizens have claimed 63 wins compared to 62 for the Lilywhites, while 36 games have been drawn.

Spurs took four points off City in the teams’ Premier League meetings last season: they played out a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium in August 2019 – with the Lilywhites twice fighting back from a goal down – while the return game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium ended 2-0 in favour of the London side, thanks to goals from Steven Bergwijn and Son Heung-min.

Battles to watch

Jose Mourinho v Pep Guardiola – These two legendary managers have crossed paths many times in their careers and it always produces an epic battle of tactical wits. Mourinho may be tempted to set out more defensively and use pace on the break, while Guardiola must prepare his team to be patient and mentally strong, all while relying on their greater creativity.

Gareth Bale v Kyle Walker – Bale’s return to Tottenham has been one of the fairy tale stories of the season and there are signs that he could have a major effect on the fate of the Lilywhites. The man who will be tasked with keeping the Welsh wizard quiet is Kyle Walker, who has been one of City’s top players – both defensively and offensively – so far in 2020/21..

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