Preview: Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City
Here we go again! City’s new season begins as our last one ended, in terms of meaningful games, with a mouth-watering clash against Spurs. Both teams will be desperate for a positive start.
Whether either manager believes his side is ready for such a clash is another matter. Harry Redknapp complained about his own pre-season schedule and the bout of international friendlies.
Roberto Mancini shared his disappointment over the timing of the internationals, while the Italian also has concerns about player fitness and integrating new signings.
Carlos Tevez, David Silva and Nigel de Jong have barely had a pre-season, though de Jong looked very sharp against Valencia last weekend. James Milner and Mario Balotelli won’t have had time to train with their new colleagues, even if their transfers are completed in time.
Adam Johnson and Gareth Barry both played a full 90 minutes at Wembley on Wednesday, while Silva had a long haul trip to Mexico.
Ironically Robinho ought to be amongst the fittest having been playing competitive games for Santos. The Brazilian is highly unlikely to start, but could he feature from the bench? With transfer speculation surrounding him it’s probably unlikely.
Likewise Craig Bellamy may have played his last game for the club after his comments while on international duty. This is a real shame as Bellers has the battling qualities we could need for this fixture.
Of the new signings Boateng, Kolarov and Yaya Toure are likely to start. David Silva will probably feature but is unlikely to last 90 minutes in a high intensity game.
It was fascinating to see Mancini start the Valencia game with a back five of Hart, Richards, Boateng, Kompany and Kolarov. The implication being this could be the defence to start the season.
The absences of Given and Kolo Toure would be controversial but understandable. Mancini has been starting with Hart in most of the pre-season games. City struggled against the height of Crouch in our last game against Spurs and for that reason Mancini might go for his bigger defenders this time round. That would leave the captain on the sidelines for this fixture along with Zabaleta.
Curiously, Joleon Lescott hasn’t featured prominently in pre-season and talk of signing David Luiz will do little for his peace of mind. The big defender is a proven Premier League performer but appears yet to fully win the confidence of the manager.
With the lack of pre-season for so many players it will be no surprise to see Mancini set his stall out to keep Spurs at bay. Therefore de Jong, Barry and Yaya could all play and pack the midfield.
Adebayor has played a full pre-season and should therefore be expected to lead the line despite having a poor game against Spurs last time round. With Tevez buzzing in a deeper role that would only leave one vacancy.
Thanks to Capello playing Johnson for the full England match, he may not be at his freshest. Wright-Phillips did excellently against Valencia and his extra energy may be useful in combatting Spurs’ strong left flank.
Micah Richards also looks in peak condition and for this reason may be the best bet against the marauding Gareth Bale. On the other flank there is a concern about Kolarov facing Aaron Lennon in his Premier League debut. It’s to be hoped he fares better than Sylvinho did last season, though he might have to save the attacking side of his game for another day.
“I’m excited, it’s going to be a big year for us.
“I only had everyone for two days before Valencia, and David and Carlos only started their pre-season a week before, which is not great for us. I would have liked another two weeks training with them.
“That’s also why I wanted to build up the squad so we have plenty to choose from in each position.”
To get a win in this fixture would be an amazing start, even better than the victory at Blackburn last season. Mancini has spoken about needing another 20 days training with the players before they’re fully ready, so he will have to manage his resources astutely to get good results here and against Liverpool.
Yaya Toure could be a dominant force in midfield this season, just the kind of player the top sides need. If he imposes himself against Spurs in the way Vieira used to, then we could just do it. To see Robinho or even Jo come off the bench and bag a winner would be hilarious.
In terms of anticipation nothing beats the start of a new season, and this time there’s an awful lot to anticipate!
Blue Days line-up: Hart, Richards, Boateng, Kompany, Kolarov, de Jong, Y Toure, Silva, Wright-Phillips, Tevez, Adebayor.
Update: Hearing Boateng is injured. In that case Kompany and Lescott in the centre of defence.
Prediction: 3-0 City!