Currently the only side who seem capable of preventing Chelsea from running away with the Premier League title, reigning champions Manchester City are comfortable and familiar with the pressure they face.
For Tottenham Hotspur, however, today’s matinée at the Etihad Stadium provides an opportunity to show they also are finally capable of dealing with the bright lights on the big stage.
Coming out of the international break, City (4-2-1) are five points behind the Blues, but that gap feels wider given Chelsea’s imposing form plus the fact Jose Mourinho’s side has already banked a 1-1 draw at the Etihad on Sept. 21. Additionally, City have already dropped five points at home through three matches, equaling their total for 2013-14 when they claimed their second Premier League title in three seasons. “I always say to the players that in May you will win or lose the Premier League by just one point and every point you drop along the way makes it difficult for us to win,” manager Manuel Pellegrini told the club’s official website after their 2-0 win at Aston Villa on Oct. 4. “It is very important to try and recover those points. The only way to do that is to win every game.”
Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero were on target at Villa Park with goals in the 82nd and 88th minutes, respectively. It continued City’s trend to find goals late – six of their 14 goals have come in the 75th minute or later, with Aguero and Frank Lampard each contributing two.
The two have combined for 13 goals versus Spurs – Aguero has five in as many matches – and Lampard is quite familiar with Spurs following all his London derbies while playing for Chelsea.
“I’ve done all right against Spurs over the years and playing them was always a big game at Chelsea,” said Lampard, who has eight goals against Tottenham. “They may go through a slight transitional period but I was very impressed with their manager when he was at Southampton and if he can bring the same imprint on Tottenham … they’ll do really well.”
Spurs (3-2-2) are sixth on 11 points, trailing Manchester United and Swansea City on goal differential, and the star-crossed Lilywhites again have the chance to make a name for themselves. First-year coach Mauricio Pochettino is learning first-hand how playing high-profile opponents are Tottenham’s bete noire – Spurs are 1-1-1 against sides currently above them in the table, with the lone a win a 1-0 home victory over the Argentine’s former charges from Southampton on Oct. 5.
Last season, Spurs were utter shambles against the five teams who finished ahead of them, going 1-2-7 with a staggering minus-24 goal differential after being outscored 27-3. City contributed significant portions of destruction on that scoreline, going on a 5-1 rampage at White Hart Lane and administering a 6-0 whitewashing in last season’s corresponding fixture.
”This is another season, another philosophy, another game,” Pochettino said as he tries to avoid the fate that befell predecessors Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood last season. ”We need to arrive on Saturday with the idea to believe in our philosophy and style and try to get the points.”
Aguero netted three of City’s goals in those lopsided victories, and the Argentina striker leads the Citizens this season with six across all competitions.
Spurs’ nine goals are the fewest of any team in the top half of the table, but their seven conceded puts them joint-second in the league with Chelsea, Manchester City and Sunderland while trailing only Southampton.
Source: ScoreMobile FC