The Premier League returns with a mouth-watering set of clashes, with the highlight fixture of the round taking place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday as Spurs lock horns with Manchester City, which will see Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola renew their long-standing rivalry.
Despite Spurs playing at home, the Citizens are favourites going into the match and will certainly back themselves to collect maximum points.
Which team will come out victorious? Here’s our preview and prediction.
*Please note that this article was written prior to the Manchester derby in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday 29 January.
Man City 11/20
Spurs face City in the Premier League for the first time at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Mourinho will be hoping to give the fans some much-needed cheer after a string of frustrating results.
Spurs were held to a 1-1 draw against Southampton at St Mary’s in the FA Cup fourth round last Saturday to force a replay. The north Londoners went up thanks to Son Heung-Min’s superb goal in the second half, but conceded a late goal to Sofiane Boufal.
There’s no doubt that Tottenham are missing their talisman Harry Kane. Their 2-1 home victory against bottom-placed Norwich ended a run of three league games without scoring, while it also ended a four-match winless streak.
With their goal machine ruled out until April, Spurs will need to provide more attacking threat than they have recently. The transfer window would have closed on Friday, but at the time of writing, widespread reports suggest that PSV Eindhoven winger Steven Bergwijn is set to join the Lilywhites.
Mourinho is also very keen to strengthen his striking department with the north London club linked with strikers Krzysztof Piatek of AC Milan and Real Sociedad’s Willian Jose. It does seem likely that the Portuguese will bring a striker in before the transfer window closes, but Christian Eriksen should be an Inter Milan player then.
Mourinho, once billed as the ultimate big game manager, has struggled in big games since taking over from Mauricio Pochettino in November, losing to three of the big sides he’s faced so far.
His return to Manchester United in December ended in a frustrating 2-1 loss and later that month, suffered a 2-0 home defeat by his other former side Chelsea, and last month, watched his side lose 1-0 at home to champions-elect Liverpool.
Spurs head into the clash with City looking to boost their hopes of ending the season in the top four of the Premier League table. The north Londoners sit in sixth position, six points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea.
Manchester City booked their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup after an emphatic 4-0 win against Fulham last Sunday with goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and a brace from Gabriel Jesus. That win was City’s seventh from their last eight games in all competitions.
Guardiola’s men currently sit second in the Premier League – 16 points shy of Liverpool. By their own mighty standards, they’ve fallen some way short, but it could still turn out to be a memorable season for the Citizens as they find themselves in good stead in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and the Champions League, a trophy that has eluded the blue side of Manchester.
City have goalscorers all over the pitch and their 65 in the league is the highest in the division by a considerable distance. Sergio Aguero is their main source for goals with the Argentine netting 16 for the campaign, second only to Jamie Vardy in this season’s goalscoring charts.
Aguero also has three assists, taking his goal involvement to 19 in the Premier League. However, the standout performer for City though – and arguably the Premier League – has been Belgian playmaker Kevin De Bruyne.
The 28-year-old has been unbelievable in every competition for the Citizens this season and has found the net seven times, while racking up 15 assists. No player has created more goals then him, while he’s also been involved in 22 goals, the most for any player this season.
Spurs have kept just two clean sheets under Mourinho and City’s deadly attack will look to exploit their defensive frailties. With Aguero in red-hot form and De Bruyne providing magical passes – not to mention the likes of Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo in the side – Guardiola’s men are sure to cause all kinds of problems.
Lloris; Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Winks, Lo Celso; Son, Alli, Lamela; Moura.
Manchester City: 4-3-3
Ederson; Walker, Fernandinho, Laporte, Mendy; Rodri, D. Silva, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling.
Prediction: Manchester City (11/20)
City look to have found their rhythm again and should put Spurs to the sword. It’s going to be incredibly difficult for Mourinho to mastermind a result without Kane and Eriksen. My money’s on the Premier League champions.
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