Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City: Tactical Preview

Fresh off a disappointing loss in a Capital One Cup North London Derby, Spurs host league-leading Manchester City at White Hart Lane. And an easy fixture this will not be.

Manchester City lead the league in many metrics, to name a few: goal difference, pass accuracy, shots on target, goals scored via open play, and goals scored via set pieces. They are second best in the Premier League in possession rate and total shots per game. There’s really no way around it: City are very, very good. In fact, my preseason Premier League Projection model picked them to win the league, and that was BEFORE they acquired the services of one Kevin De Bruyne.

City generally line up in a 4-2-3-1. Joe Hart will start in goal after being rested during a midweek Capital One Cup match against Sunderland.

It remains to be seen whether Capitan and Belgian international teammate of seemingly the entire Spurs side, Vincent Kompany, will be available following an injury in last week’s Champions League match against Juventus.  Should Kompany remain out, look for Nicholás Otamendi to start in his place. Against West Ham, Otamendi completed an impressive 97% of his total passes and managed four shots. The other center back will in all likelihood be Eliaquim Mangala.

At left back is Serbian international, Aleksandar Kolarov. Look for Kolarov and his counterpart at right back, former Arsenal man, Bacary Sagna, to provide a significant wide threat in the attack. The wingers will tuck in, allowing Sagna and Kolarov to make overlapping runs, much in the same way Spurs do.

Yaya Touré seems to be returning to the top form that escaped him last season. Despite playing in a holding position, Touré will create, and create often. He has already scored once and provided three assists this season. The Ivorian also leads City in shots per 90 mins. Touré’s partner in the midfield is Fernandinho, who generally plays deeper than Touré.

Raheem Sterling, David Silva, and Kevin De Bruyne could very well make up a single band of the City midfield come Saturday. To say that Dier will have his work cut out would be a massive understatement. Spurs could, however, catch a break if David Silva remains out through injury – Silva has produced four assists and scored once in four appearances. But even without Silva, chance creation shouldn’t be a problem for the Citizens as De Bruyne leads the team in chances created per 90 with 5.2 (not to mention that he managed 20 assists in the Bundesliga last season).

Up front is Argentine, Sergio Agüero. He hasn’t quite matched the offensive production of some of his teammates but has still scored once and assisted once. There’s little doubt about his ability to make incisive runs off the back line, so Vertonghen and Alderweireld have to remain aware.

Unfortunately, Bentaleb remains unavailable and Mason and Dembélé are questionable, so Poch has some interesting decisions to make regarding the defensive midfield. We could, for the first time this season, see what I would consider our first-choice front four start a match together, those four being Chadli, Eriksen, Son, and Kane.

Over the last four Premier League encounters between Spurs and City, Tottenham has been outscored 16-3. If history has anything to say about it, Saturday will a significant challenge for the Lilywhites. The Spurs Projected Goal Difference is -.62, favoring a win for City. The upside is that Spurs continue to lose to City by a small and smaller margin, only losing 1-0 last time around. But then again, the City side that *only* beat Tottenham by one did not feature Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Yaya Touré and Vincent Kompany…