Another spoilt tea-time
An early evening / late afternoon kick off this weekend as we head to the home of the Champions, the treble holders, the Bank of Abu Dhabi Works XI and favourites for every competition they will enter this year. Manchester City.
The Etihad has also been home to some great Spurs nights of course, two that spring to mind are Crouchie’s memorable winner in 2010 and then last season the epic drama-filled Champions League quarter-final. Unrepeatable we thought, and then we went to Amsterdam…
Unconfirmed team news
City have lost Sane (for a while) but gained Rodri and Cancelo. (Can you feel the heat Kyle?). They also have de Bruyne back fully fit. We have Ndombele (ready), Sessegnon and Lo Celso (not ready). We are minus Dele, Son, Davies, Foyth and Aurier.
“Who else?” you say. Eriksen and Vertonghen? Whaaaaaat!?!?!?
It is of course difficult to know what’s going inside the club but if Vertonghen doesn’t play this week then we’ll know it’s not good. I’d be amazed if Eriksen doesn’t start.
Last weekend’s deserved win against Villa was made much harder than it should have been by the shape and personnel chosen by Poch and by the performances of some of the individuals therein. Lamela’s contribution to the cramped and narrow front line was partly not his fault due to the strange formation selected, only partly though. His inability to create anything, keep possession in dangerous areas and force the likes of Mings et al in to errors only helped everything founder amongst the crowds in and around the Villa penalty area arc.
The improvement in the team performance once Eriksen was brought on has been well-documented but it wasn’t just him that made the difference, it was the change in shape and formation. Thus, everything that was wrong last week can be fixed this week. Eriksen in for Lamela and 4-3-1-2 with the Dane ‘behind’ Kane and Lucas and in front of Ndombele, Winks and Sissoko. 4-1-2-1-2 even. Possibly.
I’ll be Right Back
The ‘4’ in that formation though hides what is probably the key to us getting a result tomorrow. Assuming that the absence of Vertonghen was due to a domestic tiff, the defence picks itself. Rose, Toby, Jan and most importantly, probably, KWP……
In previous seasons Trippier has suffered badly at the hands of Sane and Sterling. There’s no Sane this time which is something that Walker-Peters will be pleased with but he’ll still have newly coronated National Treasure Sterling to deal with and how he manages that will very possibly dictate more than just the outcome of this game, but also his long-term future at Spurs. No pressure then.
Who knows what the Citeh line up will be? Aguero and Bernardo Silva were on the bench last week meaning that they may start in place of the Silva (or Mahrez) and Jesus. But they may not. Guardiola made a mistake last season by underestimating us in the first leg of the CL quarter-final and leaving players out that he shouldn’t have done, it’s hard to imagine him doing it again but you never know.
For most teams a visit to Man City is a ‘free hit’. We though should have a different view given our ambitions for the season. We’ll need top performances from our key players – Lloris, Kane, the CBs, Eriksen, Ndombele, Winks, that’s most of the team J, but we’ll also need no doubt a slice of fortune and to stop letting in early goals in big games. A terrible habit that we developed last year.
If Kane is as clinical as he was last Saturday, if the defence keep calm and most importantly, don’t make mistakes, then we have every chance of avoiding defeat at the very least. Wouldn’t an off-the-bench Lo Celso winning goal be sweet?
Michael Oliver is the man in the middle.
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