This Sunday brings two fixtures that could well decide who finishes where in the Premier League’s top four come the end of May.
And the latter game looks set to be a particularly exciting one. During the last six encounters between City and Spurs, there have been no draws, two red cards and 27 goals scored.
City come out on top in terms of results, winning four of the aforementioned six. But it was Spurs who recorded an unexpected 4-1 win in September and the Citizens are thwarted with injury problems, with Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Samir Nasri, Jesus Navas, Wilfried Bony and Eliaquim Mangala all potentially sidelined.
But, of course, playing at the Etihad will be a massive advantage for the home side. So who’ll come out on top in what looks set to be a close-knit affair? Perhaps a look at the Key Battles can shed some light on the potential outcome…
Tottenham Hotspur boast the healthiest goals conceded column in the Premier League at the moment but Jan Vertonghen’s absence through injury is a huge blow for the north London side, especially upon facing the division’s joint-top scorers in Manchester City.
And without meaning to sound disrespectful, the Belgium international’s understudy Kevin Wimmer represents a bit of a weak link compared to the rest of the Spurs defence, considering the 23-year-old’s Premier League career thus far has consisted of just three outings.
Sergio Aguero will surely take note and the Argentina international is firmly back to his best after overcoming recent injury troubles, notching up eight goals in his last six Premier League appearances and finding the net in his last five outings across all competitions.
The in-form frontman could simply prove too hot to handle for Spurs’ inexperienced defender, so constant support from centre-back partner Toby Alderweireld – arguably the top-performing centre-half in the Premier League this season – is vital.
Almost a carbon copy of the aforementioned battle between Aguero and Wimmer, this skirmish represents yet another potential mismatch between one of the Premier League’s most potent goalscorers and a defensive weak link.
Indeed, Martin Demichelis had an absolute nightmare against Leicester City last weekend; outfought by Robert Huth twice from set pieces and completely bamboozled by Riyad Mahrez to play an unfortunate part in all three of the Citizens’ concedes.
Kane may not possess the pace to take advantage of the Argentine’s ageing legs but his goal record speaks for itself – 15 in 25 Premier League outings this season and four in his last four Premier League outings – and the England international has the strength and aerial threat to punish Demichelis regardless.
Vincent Kompany could be included in the squad on Sunday and City need their orchestrating skipper now more than ever. But considering his return in January lasted just nine minutes, Pellegrini is unlikely to risk starting the Belgian centre-half.
Kieran Trippier was Tottenham Hotspur’s Man of the Match last weekend, providing a relentless attacking threat from right-back and eventually scoring the only goal in a tough-fought win over Norwich City.
But something tells me resident No.2 Kyle Walker will start on Sunday, if only to nullify Raheem Sterling’s penetrative pace down the left-hand side.
It’s been a decent if unspectacular debut campaign for City’s £49million signing. But with so many key attacking players absent for Sunday’s game – most notably Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva – the 21-year-old will really feel the pressure to produce something special.
That could well see him move into a slightly more central role but working on the assumption that he’ll start on the left, Walker should fancy his chances against his fellow England international.
The defender has been in good form this season and more than most right-backs in the Premier League, possesses the natural speed to keep up with Sterling.
Dele Alli and Yaya Toure may be at completely polarised points in their Premier League careers but they perform similar roles for their respective sides – predominantly, providing ingenuity and goals from midfield.
That may seem a rather simplistic way to describe one of the Premier League’s greatest centre-mids and England’s most in-form player with the exception of Jamie Vardy, but the stats speak for themselves. Alli has bagged seven goals and five assists this term, whist Toure has recorded five strikes and five set ups.
With Silva and De Bruyne currently sidelined, we could see the Ivorian finally return to the tip of midfield where he is much less of a defensive liability. The Three Lions starlet, meanwhile, has been used in more advanced roles as the season’s gone on, even featuring in the right wing against Norwich City last weekend.
So perhaps neither will feel their predominant duty is to stop each other in midfield, although Alli is the far more likely to go beyond his role to contribute defensively as well. But in what looks to be a very close-knit encounter, the match could well be decided by a breakaway goal from the engine room.