Tottenham Hotspur v/s Manchester City
Date: 15th August 2021
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Referee: Anthony Taylor
The Premier League returns, and we have a mouth-watering Big 6 clash to look forward to in the very first weekend! Tottenham Hotspur takes on defending champions Manchester City in Sunday evening’s fixture, with both teams looking to get this campaign off to a strong start.
Both clubs have been fairly active in the transfer market, with Tottenham welcoming Serie A’s defender of the year, Christian Romero to the club. Having lost Toby Alderweireld to Al-Duhail, the heart of the Spurs defence needed reinforcement, and new gaffer Nuno Espirito Santo will be happy to have gotten his man. Also donning the Lilywhites will be goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollina, as well as Spanish winger Bryan Gil. More business could yet be done, as a fee for Inter striker Laurato Martinez is rumoured to have been agreed; whether the mercurial Argentine is a replacement or a strike partner for Spurs talisman Harry Kane remains to be seen, with Manchester City still all-in for the English captain.
City broke the English transfer record to sign star creator Jack Grealish from Aston Villa and seemed to have sacrificed the potential signing of Lionel Messi in favour of getting arguably the best striker in modern football from Sunday’s opponents. The Harry Kane saga has seen its ups and downs, and any concrete decision making will no doubt have to wait until after this fixture has been played out.
While City did have a solid pre-season, they looked some way off the pace against Leicester City in the Community Shield; having reached the Champions League final last season, and then with some of their squad going very deep into the Euros, City boss Pep Guardiola may have a slightly limited squad to pick from come Sunday.
Manchester City were just three wins away from completing an unprecedented quadruple last season, and crashing out of the Champions League to rivals Chelsea in the manner they did will most certainly have hurt them; it is also perhaps the reason behind Guardiola’s insistence on a world-class forward. After all, with Grealish and De Bruyne creating the chances, someone will a killer instinct in front of goal will be needed following Kun Aguero’s departure from the club.
While Nuno Espirito Santo may not have had as much time as he’d have liked with his new crop of players, his goal will most definitely be to improve upon Tottenham’s lacklustre 7th place finish last season; a Champions League berth will likely be the target for this campaign, but with Chelsea and Manchester United strengthening their squads significantly, and Spurs staring down the barrel of losing Harry Kane to Manchester City, Nuno has his work cut out for him.
Sunday may well signal the start of something promising for the Spurs faithful, and while City fans acknowledge that any potential deal for Kane will have to wait till the full-time whistle is blown, they would be in no mood to surrender 3 points on the opening weekend to one of their direct rivals. The last time these two sides played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, a Mourinho masterclass condemned City to their worst start to a season in over a decade; let’s see how things play out on Sunday!
Harry Kane has rejoined the Spurs camp after testing negative, having returned to training a week after he was supposedly due to, sparking several rumours about him attempting to force an exit; he will face a late fitness test to feature against Guardiola’s men.
New signings Christian Romero and Bryan Gil are both doubts; Gil returned to the spurs camp after the Olympic Finals and hasn’t spent too much time with his new teammates. The Argentine centre half, on the other hand, is now fully recovered from an injury sustained in the Copa America final, but the lack of training sessions will limit his involvement on Sunday.
Japhet Tanganga will also face a late fitness test, having joined training recently after recovering from an injury. Tanguy Ndombele isn’t injured but is unlikely to feature as he still hasn’t adapted to Nuno’s system.
England starlet Phil Foden will miss the opening 3-4 weeks of the new season with a foot injury sustained during the Euros. De Bruyne has returned to (partial) training but is likely to sit this one out.
Other England stars Kyle Walker, John Stones and Raheem Sterling were deemed ‘ready’ for the new session, even if fitness levels aren’t uniform among the trio. Jack Grealish made his debut off the bench against Leicester in the Community Shield, and while he will still need to get up to speed tactically, fitness-wise he should be good to go, at least off the bench.
Predicted Starting XIs
Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Tanganga, Sanchez, Dier, Reguillon; Hojbjerg, Skipp; Lucas Moura, Alli, Bergwijn; Son
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Ake, Zinchenko; Gundogan, Rodri, Fernandinho; Mahrez, Ferran, Grealish
Predicted Scoreline: Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Manchester City
I believe the lengthy injury list for both sides will leave this match a little less clinical than it would have otherwise been, with the players also needing a bit of time to find their feet and dig into the season. While City’s XI is still stronger on paper, I fear a little dearth of creativity and pace in midfield, and if Son continues his stellar record against City, a draw may well be on the cards.