The Big Match Tactical View: Man City v Tottenham

Pep Guardiola sees no reason Manchester City shouldn't extend their unbeaten run
Pep Guardiola sees no reason Manchester City shouldn't extend their unbeaten run
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It's Pep Guardiola versus Mauricio Pochettino - Michael Cox looks at the tactical battle and Alan Thompson provides the betting lowdown.

"Mauricio Pochettino will have a very good idea of how City will shape up – but stopping them is another task entirely."

Manchester City v Tottenham
Saturday 17:30, BT Sport 1.
Match Odds: Man City 1.584/7, Tottenham 6.25/1, The Draw 4.77/2.

City to make it 15?

Manchester City have broken the record for the longest-ever winning streak in the top-flight of English football - 14 games on the trot - and Pep Guardiola will be confident of making it 15 in this home encounter with Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday evening.

City have enjoyed an excellent week, putting further distance between themselves and city rivals Manchester United with a 2-1 win at Old Trafford, before easily swatting aside bottom-placed Swansea in midweek, thanks largely to a masterclass from the sublime David Silva.

Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham will offer considerably stiffer competition, but City start this game as strong favourites.

Guardiola to name a settle side

For a manager who preaches the importance of rotation and tactical variety, Guardiola has largely kept a familiar starting XI this season and it's difficult to see any major shocks here.

In defence, Kyle Walker will return after being rested in midweek, and will be particularly keen to put on a show against his former side. Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala will form the centre-back partnership in the absence of Vincent Kompany and John Stones, and this is the one area where Tottenham may get the upper hand - Mangala has looked less hapless in recent appearances, but stopping the Premier League's top marksman is no easy task. Fabian Delph should continue at left-back.

In midfield Guardiola will again field Fernandinho behind Silva and Kevin De Bruyne. Upfront, last weekend he dropped Sergio Aguero in order to play Gabriel Jesus and used Raheem Sterling upfront as a false nine. But Aguero and Sterling should re-take their usual positions here, with Leroy Sane back on the left flank.

Spurs' defensive problems

Pochettino will have a very good idea of how City will shape up - but stopping them is another task entirely. It's also a particularly tough task for Spurs considering they're without three key defensive players. Victor Wanyama has been a long-term absence, Toby Alderweireld will be out until the new year, while the suspension of Davinson Sanchez has been a further blow.

The knock-on effect is that Eric Dier is required at centre-back, so Spurs can't use him as a defensive midfielder - which means, along with Wanyama's absence, there's a serious problem with tracking Silva and De Bruyne.

They're the two players Spurs really need to watch, but who can Pochettino use to track their runs? Perhaps the best options at his disposal are Moussa Sissoko and Mousa Dembele, neither the most natural defensive midfielder, but energetic and disciplined players who might be able to 'do a job' this weekend. Harry Winks, who had a disappointing game in the midweek win over Brighton, could sit this one out.

The alternative would be something much bolder - playing Dier in midfield and using Ben Davies as a centre-back. Davies is comfortable on the left of a three, and while he's completely unfamiliar with a centre-back role in a four-man defence, City's pass-and-move football tests defenders' mobility more than their strength or aerial qualities, and it's not unreasonable to think that Davies could play this role, strengthening the midfield by virtue of Dier's move forward.

Pochettino will probably rotate at right-back, with the more solid Kieran Tripper in for Serge Aurier, who scored a fortunate opener against Brighton in midweek.

Attacking options for Pochettino

Futher forward, it seems likely that Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Son Heung-min and Kane will all start - but in what format? Pochettino needs someone to do a disciplined job on Fernandinho, needs someone to track Walker, and needs someone to attack Delph. Eriksen centrally, Alli left and Son right could be the best approach.

In truth, I'm struggling to make a case for Tottenham based upon their available options. A full-strength Spurs side could cause real problems, but I can't see them resolving the problem with tracking De Bruyne and Silva. Therefore, I'm backing the obvious - a City home win at 1.68/13.

The Betfair Trader - Alan Thompson

Manchester City are breaking Premier League records almost every week and now they face another top four contender looking to end their sequence of wins. Tottenham though have a terrible record away at the other “elite” sides in the league. Winning just three of their last 22 against Man City, Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.

The Citizens secured a record breaking 15th successive Premier League win in midweek and have only dropped two points all season. If there is a weakness in their side it’s at the back where they are without the likes of Benjamin Mendy, Vincent Kompany and John Stones. They have kept only two clean sheets in their last eight Premier League matches.

Tottenham moved back into the top four with a 2-0 win over Brighton midweek and with seven goals from their last two outings look to have shaken themselves out of a rut to land back to back Premier League victories for the first time since October. Spurs are also unbeaten in their last two visits to the Etihad Stadium and I fancy them to at least get on the score sheet today.

There should be goals in this one, but ultimately I see the City bandwagon rolling on I will be backing Man City / Yes in the Match Odds and Both Teams to score Market @ 3.02/1

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