• FT



    Man City


  • FT






White Hart Lane, England

Attendance: 36121

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Tottenham Hotspur

  • Clint Dempsey 75'
  • Jermain Defoe 79'
  • Gareth Bale 82'

3 - 1


Manchester City

  • Samir Nasri 5'

Bale back to boost Spurs

Miguel Delaney
Gareth Bale in action against City at the Etihad

When Peter Crouch struck against Manchester City in May 2010, he didn't just send Tottenham Hotspur into the Champions League - he also ended a Premier League era.

The days of the old 'big four' were over, and both these sides were now part of the new elite. In fact, it was oddly appropriate that a Crouch own goal the following season gave City their own chance to play in the Champions League.

Those fixtures, as well as Mario Balotelli's last-minute penalty in 2011-12, not only proved decisive but also forged this match as a high-profile meeting in its own right. It has become an occasion to look forward to, with fine attacking football on display.

This season, though, it's difficult to escape the feeling that the context of the game is mapped by their closest geographical rivals and the two most established teams in the Premier League elite.

And, for different reasons, that will be a source of frustration to both Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Mancini.

Tottenham are on their worst run of form of the season, towards the close of the campaign and have agaoin fallen behind Arsenal, albeit with a game in hand. City, meanwhile, have only started motoring now that the title race is effectively over. Their impressive recent run has left Mancini making irritated noises about how and why Manchester United are so far ahead of them in points, but not in quality.

At first glance, that contrast in form should further condition this fixture. Given how much Tottenham have stuttered of late, a confident City should be well capable of winning at White Hart Lane and prolonging Spurs' spell as underlings to Arsenal.

What is relevant is the extended period of rest Tottenham have finally enjoyed after an intense run of fixtures. Fatigue undeniably affected results, but they may now be refreshed - most notably their primary attacking threat.

They have been without Gareth Bale for the past two weeks, while City have been enjoying the goalscoring form of a resurgent Sergio Aguero. But Bale is back in the Spurs squad, while Aguero could be out.

City like to maintain possession and gradually overwhelm and unravel teams, with Aguero's touch defining that. Villas-Boas has carved a fine counter-attacking team at Spurs, with Bale's pace and power enhancing that to extreme degrees.

And, if different styles make matches, it this could be an encounter to live up to the exhilarating recent history of this fixture.

Spurs certainly need something to animate their run-in. City need to keep proving that the points gap at the top is no more than an aberration.

Tottenham Hotspur player to watch: Emmanuel Adebayor - Against his old club, after that penalty against Basel, after those comments on Thursday about City, this would certainly be a good time for Adebayor to prove he has rediscovered his form. With three goals since March 14, he has scored as many in his last six matches as in the previous six months. Tottenham badly need him to make it even more.

Manchester City player to watch (if he plays): Sergio Aguero - The argument, of course, is that we should perhaps not be watching the Argentine at all after his stamp on David Luiz in the FA Cup semi-final - and he may miss out through injury. Should he be available, he is highly likely to be one of the most influential players on the pitch. After a generally stuttering campaign, he has started to return to the form of last season, with two exceptional goals in successive games against Manchester United and Chelsea.

Trivia: Tottenham haven't beaten Manchester City since May 2010 - also the last time they finished ahead of them in the league.

Stats: Of Tottenham's 17 league wins this season, Bale has scored in 11. He has also hit five match-winners, which is - predictably - the most in the Tottenham squad. Jermain Defoe is next with four, with Emmanuel Adebayor having hit two.

Odds: Tottenham (2.1), Manchester City (1.25) and the draw (2.5) are available on Bet365. Aguero is 5.5 to score the first goal.

Prediction: Tottenham to just about hold steady and draw 1-1.

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