Big Match Focus: City wary of title collapse ahead of Spurs showdown

Three back-to-back defeats in a week has left Premier League's champion-elect Manchester City in a lurch as it prepares to face Tottenham Hotspur.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero will not be available for selection against Tottenham after he suffered a calf injury.   -  AFP

A rocky week of football has left Premier League's champion-elect Manchester City in a lurch. Three back-to-back defeats; a stunning three-goal reverse from neighbour Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League was sandwiched between two losses at the hands of Liverpool dumped City out of the Champions League.

Those events has prompted its manager Pep Guardiola to make the extraordinary suggestion that City could suffer a stunning title collapse on the domestic front ahead of the match against Tottenham Hotspur.

Of course it can happen, I assure you,” said Guardiola.

Guardiola is concerned about the psychological effect that three defeats in a week might have on his players as they look to secure the trophy.

City is 13 points clear at the top with six matches to play and could be confirmed as champion this weekend.

It will take the title with a win over Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday and a defeat for second placed United against bottom club West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

Predicted Line-ups

Tottenham: Lloris (c, gk); Trippier, D. Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Wanyama, Dembele; Son, Eriksen, Alli; Kane

Manchester City: Ederson (gk); Walker, Otamendi, Kompany, Delph; Gundogan, De Bruyne, Silva, Sane, Sterling; Jesus

City missed a chance to wrap up the title during the Manchester Derby. It was two up in the game before Paul Pogba inspired a United comeback, scoring twice in the second half of its 3-2 win.

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City dropped just two points in its first 22 league matches this season, with that unbeaten sequence finally ended by a 4-3 defeat at Liverpool on January 14.

Despite the disappointment of losing to United, City has still only dropped 12 points all season, but Guardiola is remaining cautious.

“The pundits in November, they said it was already done -- it was impossible that City, if they hadn't lost in six months, it's impossible for them to drop points,” he said.

“But in one week we lost three games. That happened.”

Stats

Spurs midfielder Christian Eriksen has five goals and two assists in his last nine starts in the Premier League. He has created the highest number of chances during that spell.
Harry Kane has 25 goals and is four behind Liverpool's Mohamed Salah in the race for the Golden Boot.
Sergio Aguero could be a big miss for City as they are one of his favoured opponent. He has 10 goals in 12 Premier League appearances.
City has not lost back-to-back Premier League games since December 2016.

On the other hand, Tottenham needs to continue picking up points to ensure a Champions League finish for a third consecutive year.

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Midfielder Dele Alli, who scored in his side's 2-0 win over City in the same fixture last season, felt the matches against the top six sides in the League offers more space for him to exploit.

“When you play in the Premier League against the top six, as opposed to bottom-half teams, the game is always a lot different. The top six really go at it with you. Both teams want to win and there’s a lot more space. Both teams are looking to attack," said Alli.

Team news

Harry Kane will be expected to return to the starting line-up for Spurs after he marked his return to action from an ankle injury with a controversial goal. Left-back Danny Rose is out of action with a calf injury.

For City, midfielder Fernandinho will be serving his first of two suspensions after racking up 10 yellow cards this season. Talisman Sergio Aguero is out with a knee injury.

With inputs from AFP and Premier League

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