Lewis Ambrose·5 February 2023
Lewis Ambrose·5 February 2023
Tottenham host Manchester City in the Premier League’s headline fixture of the weekend and here’s what we’re thinking about as kick-off approaches.
Tottenham should head into this one encouraged by the performance that saw them go two goals up when the sides met just a couple of weeks ago.
The north London side turned up to the Etihad and showed purpose. They pressed well, they shut Manchester City down, they took their chances, and they completely deserved their two-goal lead going into the break.
Oh, the other half? Well City will be the ones buoyed by that. Revitalised at the break and with their title defence on the line, City rallied and blew Tottenham away.
Which leaves us in an interesting position heading into this one.
Spurs should feel like they can keep City quiet at one end and hurt them at the other … but they might fear being torn apart if everything clicks for the champions.
City know they are playing a team that can punish them if they are sloppy … but also know that they can run Tottenham over if they just have a dominant spell or two where everything comes off.
The recent fixture loads this one with intrigue.
Manchester City have lost four in a row at Spurs without scoring a single goal. It’s a worrying trend and they cannot afford to drop points as they chase Arsenal down.
That is not just true on Sunday but for the remainder of the season and it looks like their trips to the capital will be decisive.
City have 10 away games remaining in the league this season. Five are in London and see them face, at the start of the weekend, the teams currently in 1st, 5th, 7th, 8th, 12th.
Their other five away matches will pit against Brighton (6th) and sides in 13th, 18th, 19th, 20th.
Whether or not City win a third Premier League title in a row will likely depend on how consistently they can find a way to win in the capital.
Tottenham’s big deadline day arrival, Pedro Porro, has a history with Sunday’s visitors, having been on the books at Manchester City from 2019 until last summer.
A two-season loan with Sporting CP were followed by a permanent move in the summer and he has impressed so much that Spurs paid €45m to sign him in a deal that becomes permanent when the season ends. Were City ever interested in bringing him back?
“No,” Guardiola said on Friday. “He was on the list, but we didn’t think about the buy-back. He decides to go to Spurs.
“(He is) perfect to play five at the back, last season we suffered when we played against Sporting.
“(He is) a good signing for Spurs.”
With just Emerson Royal as competition, Porro should come straight into the team and he may just make City suffer again, as Royal did with a goal last month.
Porro managed a goal or assist every 135 minutes in the Portuguese league this season and could, with Dejan Kulusevski drifting inside up ahead of him, ask Nathan Aké plenty of questions.