Tottenham vs Manchester City preview: Dele Alli set to return at Wembley

Tottenham tackle Manchester City in a Monday Night Football clash at Wembley and both sides could have key players back in their starting line-ups.

Dele Alli should be available for Spurs after missing four games with a hamstring injury, while City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne – who made his first start of the season in a midweek Champions League win – is poised to make a domestic return.

The Premier League clash will take place at the national stadium just hours after an NFL game between Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles.

But while De Bruyne has voiced concerns about the playing surface, Pochettino and counterpart Pep Guardiola were more philosophical in their assessment.

“It is what it is,” said Guardiola. “I am sure Tottenham have a good [groundsman]. Hopefully Tottenham can finish their stadium as quickly as possible, but it is not necessary to complain. We have to adapt.”

“It wasn’t the plan but we need to accept the reality,” Pochettino said. “We hope that the weather will be good and not kill the pitch and we can play in a very good condition.”

City go into the weekend two points ahead of their opponents in fifth and Guardiola, who was full of praise for Pochettino’s side when he faced the media, expects it to remain tight at the top of the table.

“I don’t have a doubt about that,” he said. “Tottenham are always there.

“Tactically, they are very well prepared. They are one of the teams I like the most to watch – I learn when I see them. They have a young team, good ‘keeper, striker, everything to be there (at the top).”

Team news

While Alli is back in contention after four games out, Danny Rose (groin) and Jan Vertonghen (hamstring) continue to receive treatment and will miss the Wembley clash.

Fabian Delph (knee) and Ilkay Gundogan (hamstring) are doubtful for City, while Danilo is likely to be absent with an ankle knock sustained on international duty.

Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is a long-term absentee (Achilles).

Opta stats

  • Spurs have lost 10 of their last 15 Premier League games against Man City (W4 D1), having lost just three of their first 27 games against them in the competition.
  • Just two of the last 28 league meetings between Spurs and Man City have ended as draws (11 wins for Man City, 15 wins for Spurs).
  • Tottenham have won seven and lost none of their last nine Premier League games played on Monday (D2), with their last defeat coming against Norwich in April 2012 (1-2).
  • Man City are unbeaten in six Premier League away games in London (W5 D1), winning the last four in a row. The Citizens could become the first non-London side to win five consecutive Premier League games in the capital.
  • Tottenham’s Erik Lamela has been directly involved in four goals in five Premier League games this season (three goals, one assist), the same total he registered in 25 games last term (two goals, two assists).
  • Man City’s Sergio Aguero scored 10 goals in his first seven Premier League games against Spurs – since then, he’s failed to find the net in five appearances against them.

Merson’s prediction

This should be a cracker! Tottenham are getting results without playing well – I thought they rode their luck against West Ham. There’s a few in that squad who aren’t playing to their full ability at the moment. However, look where they are in the league – they will only get better.

I think the pitch could become an issue. Modern players are not used to playing on a dodgy pitch? We were more accustomed to it back in the day – I once played at the Baseball Ground and there was not one blade of grass on the pitch.

It just may suit Manchester City that little better as they have a bit more pace in their team and will not be fully reliant on pass, pass, pass.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-3 

 

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