Much to the consternation of travelling Manchester City fans, and the disappointment of most neutrals, Tottenham Hotspur’s match against City, originally scheduled for Sunday 28 October, has now been moved to the evening of Monday 29 October.
This is down to the fact that Spurs’ new ground, which is being constructed on the existing White Hart Lane site and was due to host its first game on 15 September, is still not completed and Wembley Stadium, where Tottenham has been playing its home games, hosted an NFL match on Sunday. Several fixtures have had to be moved as a consequence, but this is the most significant in that it is a standout game which is now much more difficult for City fans to be able to attend.
Scheduling headaches aside, this much-anticipated match will be an important milestone in helping us to understand exactly how each of the teams is placed this season.
Manchester City were almost unbackable favourites before the season began with most online bookmakers, and many pundits confidently predicted that Pep Guardiola’s men would match or even better last season’s record-breaking haul of 100 points. However, thus far, it hasn’t had things all its own way, and a number of bookies have now priced City down on making back-to-back Premier League titles.
What is going according to the script is that City are top of the league — what is surprising, however, is that they are not sitting there alone. After 9 games, City have won 7, drawn 2 and are on 23 points, along with Chelsea and Liverpool on 26 points, both of whom have identical records (although City is well clear on goal difference).
Spurs, sitting in 5th spot on the table with 21 points, likewise have 7 wins, but they have also lost twice (to Watford away and to Liverpool at home).
Prior to the most recent international break, City played out a 0-0 away draw with fellow contenders Liverpool (which most observers agree was a point gained rather than two lost), while an early Eric Dier goal was enough for Spurs to win 1-0 against strugglers Cardiff City at Wembley, after which Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino conceded, “It wasn’t the best performance.”
— City Watch (@City_Watch) October 28, 2018
Wembley pitch looks terrible, to say the least, and this is least suited for a Pep Guardiola side as his teams have his teams have always been designed to play short and sleek passing of play with a touch of exquisiteness
Since Pep Guardiola’s arrival at Manchester City, the two sides have played four times. Spurs won the first encounter 2-0 at White Hart Lane in October 2016, followed that same season by a 2-2 draw at the Etihad (January 2017). However, City dominated the next two encounters, winning 4-1 in Manchester in their first match during the 2017-18 season in December, followed by a 3-1 win away at Wembley in April of this year.
This match will be the two sides’ first meeting in the 2018-19 Premier League season, with the return fixture in Manchester to be played in April next year.
- Jan Vertonghen is our until December with a hamstring issue, while Vincent Janssen is a long-term absentee for the home side.
- Dele Alli and Danny Rose are closing in on a return to fitness, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll feature here.
- Mauricio Pochettino could rotate as Spurs gear up to play two games in the space of three days, however, will likely save his fringe players for the Carabao Cup meeting with West Ham in midweek.
- That being said, Serge Aurier and Erik Lamela could start in place of Kieran Trippier and Son Heung-Min from the side that drew 2-2 with PSV.
- Eliaquim Mangala, Claudio Bravo, Ilkay Gundogan and Danilo are all ruled out for Manchester City here.
- Kyle Walker was a second-half sub in the midweek 3-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk and should make the starting XI at right-back.
- Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, and Bernardo Silva could all return to the side for the visit to Tottenham, while Kevin De Bruyne is set to make his first Premier League start of the season following his return from injury.