Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur: How the two sides might line up
- Fireworks are expected both on and off the pitch on Saturday evening at the Ethiad, but how will the two sides line up in this encounter?
Premier League leaders Manchester City host Tottenham Hotspur this weekend at the Ethiad, in another intriguing clash between two top sides. In their previous five league encounters, Saturday's visitors enjoy a good head-to-head record - winning three, while their last competitive meeting finished in a 2-2 draw back in January this year.
City's current winning streak is a staggering one. They have won their last 15 league matches without failure, with a combination of ruthless efficiency as well as grit and determination to grind out wins against more defensive-minded opponents.
Pep Guardiola's men have scored goals at ease and in their last ten fixtures, have netted at least two on average.
The only points they dropped this season was during a 1-1 draw against Everton in late August, so they will be confident in their ability to maintain their excellent form on this occasion.
Tottenham themselves will be bullish about their chances of snatching a result away at Eastlands, after consecutive victories over Stoke City and Brighton.
Their hopes of potentially making a league challenge were abruptly extinguished, having already dropped too many points against weaker sides, but they still have their sights set on a top-four finish.
With the ability at Mauricio Pochettino's disposal, not least in the final third, they can undoubtedly pose City all sorts of questions in the pursuit of an unlikely victory.
So, it's natural to expect plenty of goals when these two face one another. Here is how the two teams could line up ahead of Saturday's evening kick-off.
City's defensive struggles is clear to see, judging by the fact they have only managed two clean sheets in their last eight league games. They will miss the presence of captain Vincent Kompany as well as his centre-back partner John Stones in central defence, not to mention long-term absentee Benjamin Mendy. Sergio Aguero, who has netted ten goals in 11 games against Spurs over the years, is likely to feature from the start.
Kyle Walker, Leroy Sané and Gabriel Jesus are all expected to regain their respective places in the starting eleven after being rested during Wednesday's emphatic away victory over Swansea.
With proven match-winners in their squad, they are likely to dominate proceedings and will look to overwhelm an unpredictable Spurs side still returning to form after a shaky start this term.
City's probable XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Mangala, Otamendi, Delph; Fernandinho, Silva, de Bruyne; Sterling, Sané, Aguero.
Meanwhile, Tottenham have restored the winning feeling after two victories in quick succession. Defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama (knee) and first-choice defender Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) are both sidelined with their respective injuries, while fellow centre-back Davinson Sanchez is also unavailable for selection as he finishes his final game of a three-match suspension.
Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies lack the physical capabilities when compared with Danny Rose and Serge Aurier - though it's uncertain as to which fullback pair will start on this occasion.
Avoiding needless offsides and winning aerial duels are the main concerns for Tottenham to contend with, as they are already dangerous from set-pieces and know how to dominate games in the opposition half if given an opportunity to do so.
Erik Lamela could prove an important inclusion too, having started for the first time in more than a year after a lengthy hip injury. He was impressive during their win over Brighton and Pochettino has already hinted that the Argentine could start against the leaders this weekend.
Tottenham probable XI (4-3-2-1): Lloris, Trippier, Dier, Vertonghen, Davies; Winks, Dembele, Eriksen; Alli, Son Heung-Min; Kane.
With City looking unstoppable in full-flow, it will be a tough task for Spurs to stop their run.
Obviously they'll be eager to do so and become the first top-flight club to prevail this term, not least with their aforementioned record away at the Ethiad.
City's backline are far from their strongest unit and Pochettino will be looking to exploit that, though it's easier said than done when the Citizens have such attacking brilliance in abundance within their ranks.
With that in mind, this could quite easily be City's 16th consecutive win this weekend.
Manchester City 2-1 Tottenham HotspurPublished 15 Dec 2017, 12:01 IST