The pick of this weekend’s Premier League action will take place in London today as Tottenham Hotspur welcome Manchester City.
Spurs are currently sixth in the Premier League table, seven points off fourth-placed Chelsea, while reigning champions City occupy second, some 22 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool.
Adding extra spice to the match is the face-off between age-old rivals Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.
It has certainly not been plain sailing for Mourinho since the Portuguese replaced Mauricio Pochettino as Tottenham boss in the latter stages of 2019, although the club will feel that they are very much in the argument for fourth position as things stand.
A four-game winless run in the league between December 28 and January 18 saw them lose some ground on the teams around them, but the capital side picked up a huge three points at home to Norwich City on January 22.
As it stands, Spurs are sixth in the Premier League table, level on points with fifth-placed Manchester United and six behind Chelsea (before the weekend), who still sit fourth despite losing eight league matches this term.
Harry Kane’s absence following hamstring surgery has harmed Tottenham, and the club didn’t secure a striker on deadline day despite a host of speculation.
It is a busy period of the season for Mourinho’s side as they face an FA Cup fourth-round replay against Southampton next week before travelling to Aston Villa in the league on February 16. Then comes the first leg of their last-16 Champions League clash against an impressive RB Leipzig side three days later.
A new striker might not have arrived this month, but Spurs announced the signing of Steven Bergwijn from PSV Eindhoven earlier this week. The 22-year-old has managed five goals and 10 assists in 16 Eredivisie appearances this season and will be involved in some capacity against City.
Spurs are actually winless in their last six Premier League meetings with City, though, and have not beaten them on home soil since October 2016, which is an indication of the size of their task this weekend.
What’s more, Tottenham have only claimed one point from a possible 18 this season against teams above them in the table heading into this today’s game. They have also kept just two clean sheets in 17 games under Mourinho, which will certainly hand City huge confidence heading into the match.
Mourinho will surely relish the chance to lock horns with Guardiola once again, but the Portuguese will certainly be wary of the type of damage that the champions could inflict in the English capital.
Unless something quite staggering occurs, City will not be retaining the Premier League title. Indeed, they sat 19 points behind leaders Liverpool on the same number of matches, meaning that only a serious collapse from Jurgen Klopp’s side will prevent them from winning the championship.
City have managed to wrestle second spot away from Leicester City, though, and are two points clear of the Foxes ahead of today’s game. The Citizens have lost five Premier League games this season, however, which is an indication of their problems.
The English champions have won their last five Premier League away games in North London, though, overcoming both Arsenal and Tottenham in the process. What’s more, they have triumphed in 11 of their last 12 league fixtures in London.
City will actually enter this match off the back of a defeat, although the 1-0 loss to Manchester United on Wednesday night did not mean too much as they still progressed to the EFL Cup final 3-2 on aggregate.
Guardiola’s side also advanced in the FA Cup with a 4-0 win over Fulham last weekend, while their last Premier League match ended in a 1-0 victory over Sheffield United on January 21.
City have actually won four of their last five Premier League matches on the road, scoring 14 times in the victories over Burnley, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Sheffield United.
There is little doubting that the Citizens will be going for both domestic cups once again, while they will also be desperate to make a serious impression in the Champions League, where Real Madrid are waiting in the last-16.
All City can do in the league is keep winning and hope that Liverpool somehow fall apart, and there is simply no downplaying the importance of this weekend’s eye-catching contest to both clubs.
City lead the overall head-to-head 63 wins to Tottenham’s 61, while there have also been 36 draws between the two English rivals throughout history.
The pair played out a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season, although City recorded a 1-0 victory when they last travelled to Spurs in the Premier League, with Mahrez scoring the game’s only goal.
Tottenham have only actually won one of the last eight meetings between the two teams in all competitions, but the capital outfit managed to progress in last season’s Champions League at City’s expense.