Saturday 20th January 2017- 17:30- BT Sport 1HD
The biggest game of the weekend is the highlight of Saturday’s fixtures, as second place Tottenham travel to the Etihad to play fifth placed Man City. Tottenham are chasing their fourth successive victory over City, and their last win over the Sky Blues, saw the start of the crumbling of Pep Guardiola’s empire, that finds them sitting outside the top four.
City have lost two of their last three games, and were humbled by Everton last weekend. The challenge of the Premier League seems like it is getting to Pep, and this was touched upon on this site earlier in the week, https://footballmonologue.com/2017/01/18/the-premier-league-is-leaving-pep-with-nowhere-to-hide/
The clinical Toffees not only inflicted Guardiola’s heaviest league defeat as a manager, but the final two goals – scored by youngsters Tom Davies and Ademola Lookman – drilled home the youthful optimism that seems to be lacking from City at the moment. It also did not help that former Evertonian, and youth stand out John Stones, was dragged all over the place in the game.
It is looking increasingly likely that a summer overhaul will be needed despite more than £150m already being spent since Guardiola’s arrival, with six first-team players out of contract and more still struggling to come to terms with the philosophy the Spaniard is trying to impose.
Guardiola has officially declared his side out of the title race with a 10-point gap to Chelsea, but they are just three points off second place and would move level with Spurs if they can beat them this weekend.
City have also won their last three home matches and have only been beaten once in front of their own fans across all competitions since March of last year.
There are still definite areas of improvement needed at both ends of the field, though, with City scoring fewer goals than any other side in the top five and conceding more than any team in the top seven. Indeed, they have shipped four more goals than 16th-placed Middlesbrough this season.
For City, new signing Gabriel Jesus is available to make his debut against Spurs. The exciting young forward from Brazil, completed his £27 million move from Palmeiras. Vincent Kompany could make his return to the match day squad, for the first time since November. Fernando is also a fitness doubt as he looks to overcome a knock, but Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan are definitely out due to suspension and injury respectively.
It was another banner week for Spurs, as they went second in the table, beating West Brom 4-0, a game in which the completely dominated in. Spurs know a win here, will close the gap on Chelsea down to 4 points, ahead of their game at Hull on Sunday.
It is not an entirely new position for Spurs, who also ran Leicester City closest before a late-season collapse last term, but they are relative novices compared to the teams around them in the table when it comes to Premier League title races.
However, Mauricio Pochettino’s side must be taken seriously this season and have proven with victories over both Man City and Chelsea that they are capable of beating any team on their day, with both of those wins coming against the most in-form team in the league at that time. However, they are yet to win away at any of the title challengers, and a win at the Etihad will represent a huge statement of their title credentials.
Spurs have won their last seven matches across all competitions including six in the Premier League, most recently dropping points on their last visit to Manchester when United won 1-0 at Old Trafford on December 11.
You have to go back 50 years to May 1967 for the last time Tottenham won seven top-flight matches in a row, and an improvement on the road either side of the New Year – with back-to-back 4-1 wins at Southampton and Watford – will make them hopeful of equalling that tally.
Prior to those two wins Spurs were winless in eight away games across all competitions and they still have the worst away record in the top six, with just 16 of their 45 points coming on the road.
A win on Saturday would make it three league away triumphs on the bounce for the first time since February, though, when incidentally their third victory came against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
The Premier League’s stingiest defence is also bidding for a fourth consecutive clean sheet in all competitions – something that hasn’t happened since September 2013 despite Spurs boasting such an impressive defensive record under Pochettino.
The biggest blow for Tottenham in their 4-0 win over West Brom, was the loss of influential defender Jan Vertonghen, to an ankle injury that will rule him out for 6 weeks. Erik Lamela is also a long-term injury issue, citing a hip problem. But in Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Christian Eriksen, they have the 3 most attack minded, and inform players in the country.
Next Bet Wins TV Accumulator
If you fancy a 5 fold accumulator across this weekends televised games, our friends at Nexbetwins.co.uk have come up with a little something. Remember these prices come from Bet365
Liverpool to win match handicap -1 (4/7)
Man City v Tottenham BTTS (13/20)
Southampton v Leicester over 1.5 goals (4/11)
Arsenal to win match handicap -1 (1/2)
Chelsea to win match handicap -1 (4/9)
All adding up to just under 8/1. Certainly worth a punt.
By Rich Lee @RichLee2202