It seems incredible at this early stage and against the only other side [other than ourselves] in the Premier League who remain unbeaten; that an away win on Sunday would see us move 7 points clear of our hosts tomorrow! In contrast, should we suffer our first defeat under Pep Guardiola it would see Spurs move to within just a point of us.
Game ‘number 7’ in the league, then, is a most important one; a tough one and one that gives us an opportunity to really put some pressure on the rest by putting some more daylight between us.
v Tottenham Hotspur
|White Hart Lane|
Predicted starting 11, subs and outcome.
Fluid 4-5-1 come 4-3-3 come 4-2-4:
Claudio to continue in net.
With Pep admitting that those without injury are, at least, tired; there’s a decision to be made at left-back. If both Aleks & Gael are of ‘equal energy levels’, then I’m going for the Spanish boss to choose the Serbian over the French defender. Other than that – and after a largely poor and disorganised defence in midweek against the Scots - Nicholas should get his partner, John, back for this one. Bacary in for Pablo on the right of the back-4.
Again this all depends on energy levels, or lack thereof, and ‘aching limbs’. That…and the fact that we are away to a side who can hurt you from midfield; I’m going for Fernandinho to be given a little respite and, instead, the slightly more defensive Fernando to step in. Ahead of him, however, it’s ‘go again’ for Ilkay, David & Raheem; the latter likely to start on the left tomorrow and with the Premier-League-experience of Jesus, over Leroy, likely to be the ‘telling factor’ when it comes to a choice of right-wing.
Sergio to get back on track [after a rare ‘blank’ on Wednesday] up front.
Strong bench with some decent attacking options. Starting at the back first, though, it’s Willy as keeper insurance of course, with Gael & Zaba stepping to the side for this trip to London. Fernandinho, as I say, possibly being rested a little but ‘in there’ to provide added ‘front foot’ if required. Aleix back on the bench too for this one, I reckon, and to offer replacement, attacking-thrust-options, is Leroy & Kelechi.
Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (injured), Kevin De Bruyne (injured), Fabian Delph (injured / still-almost recovered), Nolito (suspended for one-last, domestic game) and Yaya Toure (deemed not fit for selection until dispute with agent is over).
Do I agree with Pep’s (predicted) line-up?
Well certainly at the back with regards to the 'strengthened defence' and added protection from Fernando...IF that’s what he does of course.
Pep knows best but I am looking forward to Leroy Sane being ‘unleashed’ on the Premier League at some point and was sort of hoping tomorrow would be ‘the day’ for that; especially if Gundogan, Silva & Sterling are, perhaps, a little jaded as our manager suggests.
But that’s good enough for me - Jesus CAN ‘tear up’ & worry defences when he applies himself and if the Spanish flyer IS fresh, then…great! At least we have the options of both Sane & Iheanacho should some of ‘the first 11’ start to look like they’ve got lead weights in their socks.
Result? Now I’m not just saying this because we drew in midweek - Pep’s first ‘non-victory’ / ‘dropped points’ – and have suddenly got the ‘collywobbles’. And neither am I attempting to simply match my pre-season prediction from a few weeks ago; of an away draw at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham are a good side under Pochettino and not only remain one of two unbeaten Premier League sides but also have the best defensive record in that same league; conceding just 3 from 6 outings.
They do have their injuries and doubts for this fixture though and I am mindful that we have scored 18 league goals to their 10; a number in the ‘for’ column for Spurs that is the joint-lowest scored of the top-8 sides.
‘Checks & balances’ all considered though; I just can’t see past a ‘points shared’ for this one for some reason. Hope, in the right way of course, that I’m wrong…because that afore-mentioned ‘points gap’ would look very nice indeed after just 7 games.
Expected weather conditions during the game: Beautiful day for a game – crisp, sky blue skies; some light fluffy clouds, a very light Northerly breeze that might take the edge of a reasonable [for October in England] 59 to 61F.