Tottenham — Manchester City (Premier League)
A night not for the faint of heart at White Hart Lane. The Spurs host Manchester City and they’ll be willing to prove they’ve overcome last November’s trauma. 6-0 is demoralizing but the chance to face their tormentors can also be motivating, maybe even prove liberating. Unless they repeat the offense. Who are you betting on?
The reverse fixture, in November, shook the Spurs up in a way that led to AVB’s departure from White Hart Lane. Affected players’ confidence and the trust that Villas-Boas was a solution not a problem. Since he took over, Tim Sherwood remains unbeaten in the League (5W/1D) and that alone lifted Tottenham to the 5th place with 43 points. They find themselves sandwiched by the two Merseysiders.
This will be a test to Sherwood’s tactical skill since he has not been seriously tested before by a more powerful opposition. Well, Arsenal was the exception when the met in the FA Cup round. And we all remember how that turn out. The Manager insisted on a 4-4-2 formation and was completely overruned. Many considered it stubborn and even naïve and it probably was. Two weeks later he surprisingly resorted to AVB’s formation of choice (4-2-3-1) against Swansea and landed a 1-3 victory. The tactical change was a success but will Sherwood stick to it?
There are no signings on White Hart Lane this January, and why would they after last summer’s shopping spree? Nevertheless, the line-up is strengthen with most of the unavailable coming to fitness. Paulinho, Andros Townsend, Kaboul, and Jan Vertonghen are all cleared and ready for action.
Sherwood’s appointment coincided with Emmanuel Adebayor’s release from the dog house AVB had dragged him to. And he’s been repaying the favour, proving effective either working in duo or alone.
Probable line-up: Lloris — Walker, Dawson, Chiriches, Rose — Lennon, Bentaleb, Dembélé, Eriksen — Adebayor, Soldado.
Once upon a time you could deflate the daunting effect Manchester City have in their opposition if they were facing the Light Blues away from the home court. Those days are gone. They have a track-record of 17 wins for their last 19 ties in all competitions. They have scored the overwhelming sum of 110 goals in 36 matches. Injuries befallen upon key-players — Aguero and now Samir Nasri — and the squad hardly resents it. That’s how strong their bench is. If anything is bound to disturb Citizens performances is a momentary loss of concentration when facing easier opposition. Pellegrini has Blackburn to thank to point that out.
Wednesday City know they’ll have a trick game ahead. Spurs were humiliated and they’ll be seeking revenge. But the Citizens are on a tight schedule and can’t lose track. They are 2nd, with 50 points, two separating the top-three. Any slipup could be fatal when you’re fighting in four different fronts. Just around the corner lies Chelsea, in the most anticipated game of week 24. And once again twelve days later, this time in the FA Cup, followed by none other than Barcelona. No time to breathe let alone relax.
Nasri is recovering from knee injury. David Silva should be fit to play. Alvaro Negredo is the only strong doubt but having Dzeko aligned Pellegrini should risk the Spaniard.
Probable line-up: Hart — Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov — Navas, Touré, Fernandinho, David Silva — Aguero, Dzeko.
One thing is certain, Wednesday night at White Hart Lane there will be goals. That’s the way it works with Manchester City. But the other side has rediscover their way back to goal two and Adebayor will be eager to prove himself against Sergio Aguero. I suspect both black-four won’t have an easy night.