The biggest fixture of the second round of the 2019/20 campaign sees Premier League champions, Manchester City, do battle with last season’s Champions League runners-up, Tottenham, at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s side are strong favourites to see off Spurs as they’ve completed a league double over the north London side in their last two seasons.
Mauricio Pochettino’s only Premier League win over Guardiola came in the Spaniard’s first season in England, with Spurs running out 2-0 winners thanks to an own goal from Aleksandar Kolarov and Dele Alli strike.
Pochettino’s side managed to get the better of City in the Champions League last season over two legs, but can they defy the betting odds of 7/1 and upset the league champions on their own turf? Find out what our Editor predicts!
Man City 7/20
Manchester City kicked off their Premier League title defence in emphatic fashion as they cruised past West Ham 5-0 at the London Stadium thanks to a hat-trick from Raheem Sterling and strikes from Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero.
Against the Hammers, Guardiola’s side had a substitutes bench including new signing Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Aguero. This was a real statement of intent from the Citizens, who won their 15th league game in a row.
Having scored five goals in their opening game of the new season, the Premier League champions will be high on confidence going into Saturday’s clash, and with the game being played at the Etihad Stadium – where City won 18 out of 19 games last season – Guardiola’s side will fancy their chances of victory. The Citizens will also be out for payback after Spurs knocked them out in the semi-finals of the Champions League last season.
Guardiola will know he’ll need his strongest line-up to outclass Spurs. From the side that started against West Ham, I would expect to see Bernardo, City’s standout player last season, come back into the line-up in place of Riyad Mahrez, while Jesus should make way for Aguero, who scored 21 Premier League goals last season.
German winger Leroy Sane will be out of action for six or seven months with a knee injury, while French left-back Benjamin Mendy, who has been out since the end of last season, is nearing a return, but still expected to miss the next couple of fixtures.
Tottenham kicked off their Premier League campaign with a 3-1 victory over newcomers Aston Villa, but they were made to work very hard for the three points. Pochettino’s side trailed Villa 1-0 at half-time, but debutant Tanguy Ndombele, Spurs’ record signing, struck a 73rd minute equalizer and Harry Kane scored two late goals to ensure the north London side got off to a winning start. Remember when he couldn’t score in August?
Spurs will be hoping they can make an assault on the Premier League title this season. Pochettino has delivered four successive top four Premier League finishes, but the lack of silverware is often highlighted. If they can avoid defeat at the Etihad, they can make their title ambitions a reality.
The Argentine boss boasts one of the strongest squads in European football and has brought in Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon. There is strength, durability and skill in every area of the field. In my opinion, the north London side are the only realistic challengers to City and Liverpool.
Spurs will need a massive effort to overcome Manchester City this weekend. One thing Pochettino must do is re-insert Christian Eriksen into the starting XI. The Danish playmaker made an instant impact, coming off the bench against Villa to inspire his side to victory. Spurs are just not the same when he’s not playing. Jan Vertonghen, who was sidelined for whatever reason against Villa, is another player who has to come back into the line-up.
Pochettino will rely on Kane to produce the goods up front as he so consistently does. Unfortunately for the Argentine, he still won’t be able to call upon Son Heung-min. The Korean ace is still serving a suspension stemming from a straight red card he earned last season. Son’s absence will no doubt be a huge blow for Spurs as he was instrumental against City in the Champions League semi-finals, scoring in both legs.
To add to their woes, Dele Alli looks set to miss out once again due to an ankle injury.
Man City: 4-3-3
Ederson; Walker, Laporte, Stones, Zinchenko; D Silva, Rodrigo, De Bruyne; Sterling, Aguero, B Silva.
Lloris; Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Sissoko, Winks, Ndombele; Lamela, Lucas, Kane.
Prediction: Sterling to Score First & Man City to Win (4/1)
Having beaten Spurs in each of their last four meetings in the Premier League and playing at their fortress Etihad, I’m backing Guardiola’s side to come out on top. But with very little value on a straight win for City, I suggest taking Sterling to Score First & Man City to Win at 4/1.
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