Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur.
Being the only remaining unbeaten side in the Premiership after ten games is hardly cause for major concern at Man City, though if we believe the media, Eastlands isn't a happy place at the moment. A likelihood to again fall at the first hurdle of Europe's premier competition and getting more than their fair share of lucky breaks domestically, is an indication that City are not playing anywhere near the level they were last season, but the fact that they are still sitting so close to the top of the table makes them a force to be reckoned with.
What interests me is how they are handling the pressure of being Champions and also coping with the supposed big egos within the squad. On the face of things, they don't seem to be coping very well, as several key players from last season seems to be well below their outstanding form of last season and we recently heard a few comments about them being a team of individuals as opposed to being a united team. That might be harsh, but when I have seem them, they certainly don't look as solid in defence or as devastating in attack, though the record states that they have had the most shots on target and had the least against them, so theory might be riding their luck at times, but equally is their season one of winning when not playing well actually a good sign and woe betide the team they face when they actually click..
Spurs on the other hand, have their own problems and question marks, but I do wonder if it is games like this where we will actually see them play at their best? Is there also an argument that the team are playing with greater freedom away from WHL as well? A first win in years at Old Trafford is not a true indication of a great season or a team that is better away from home, but looking at the table and also the games themselves, it seems clear that Spurs have not only earned more away points than home ones, but have scored more and conceded less, whilst also seeming much more comfortable in their way of playing. Maybe we can blame a negative home crowd for heaping more pressure of the team or perhaps it is the anti Semitic chants that upset the players and put them off their game …
As for team news, Spurs will be hoping that Sandro is fit to start, but after Thursdays promising performance, could we see Tom Carroll partner our Beast from Brazil and be a better pairing than with Huddlestone, who though has played well, is more pedestrian that our Mini Modric. Carroll over Hudd seems unlikely, especially after Tom received such positive praise from AVB, but would any of us be too upset to see Carroll get his first Prem start, even if it is such a big game?
What is the most interesting selection dilemma, is whether we retain Thursdays 4-4-2 or go back to the more used 4-2-3-1? Though I have a feeling it will be one of Defoe or Adebayor and not both, I do feel that we should go with both, and I actually felt that though they didn't seem to obviously spark off of each other in nice little one-twos and flick ons, there seemed to be a clever switching of roles, with each taking turns to drop deep, which must be a nightmare for a defence to mark, especially as they are such different players with different strengths.
City are sure to start as big favourites and will also have the big advantage of having two extra days rest from their European adventures, but it will have been Tottenham that had the better feeling following those games and perhaps AVB looking to take the game to City is exactly what we need and they will fear and I wonder if a fit again Maicon will feel he is better waiting another week before making his home City debut. Leave Bale to Pablo Zabaleta to deal with.
I can see AVB retaining a more cautious approach and going with a side of Friedel, Walker, Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen, Sandro, Huddlestone, Lennon, Bale, Dempsey and probably Defoe over Adebayor and though there is a real common sense thinking in playing safe as opposed to being more gung-ho, I would love to see us look to take the game to City and see what they have to offer. If we lose, at least we lose giving it a go, but wasn't going all out attack and hang the consequences one of the reasons why so many wanted Harry out in the first place ...