Big Match Focus: Tottenham v Manchester City

Manchester City and Tottenham put their impressive recent winning runs on the line in a crunch Premier League fixture on Monday.

Erik Lamela's form has been integral to Tottenham's upturn in form.   -  Reuters

Manchester City heads to Tottenham Hotspur on Monday buoyed by convincing victories at home and abroad that were richly deserved for stellar performances.

Last weekend's thrashing of Burnley and the midweek Champions League success at Shakhtar Donetsk were evidence of an exceptional City team beginning to hit top gear, much to the concern of a Liverpool side it should probably have beaten before the international break.

An improving Tottenham, however, appears primed to pose a stiff challenge at Wembley Stadium, where it has lost just two of its last 21 in the Premier League.

One of those was at the hands of City last season and Pep Guardiola will know a repeat can serve as an important step in a tight title race.

PEP ON CUSP OF FRESH POCH MILESTONE

The rivalry between Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino dates back to the simmering tension they shared in charge of Barcelona and Espanyol respectively in LaLiga.

While the gap in the stature of their teams has closed in England, the City manager continues to enjoy the best of the individual battle, losing just two of the pair's previous 13 managerial meetings.

Securing maximum points on Monday would give the Catalan three consecutive victories over the Argentine for the first time in his career.

It would also see City become the first non-London club to win five consecutive Premier League games in the capital.

Pep Guardiola (L) has a superior head-to-head record over Mauricio Pochettino.   -  Getty Images

 

FORM GUIDE

Tottenham sits outside the top four on goal difference despite winning seven of its opening nine Premier League fixtures including the last four in a row.

A steadier defence has made the recent resurgence possible and Spurs have leaked one goal since September's back-to-back losses.

City ominously looks to have rediscovered the unstoppable momentum that fuelled it last season, having strung together a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions highlighted latterly by dominant 5-0 and 3-0 wins over Burnley and Shakhtar.

Indeed, such is its dominance, the champion has not conceded more than a single goal at any stage of its ongoing 15-match undefeated streak in England's top flight.

PLAYER HEAD-TO-HEAD (Erik Lamela v Riyad Mahrez)

Describing the return of an injured player as 'like a new signing' seems applicable in Erik Lamela's case.

The Argentina international has overcome persistent fitness problems to play an increasingly prominent role in recent weeks, marking his first Premier League start of the season with the winner against West Ham last weekend.

That header lifted Lamela's tally to three goals and an assist in his 163 minutes this term, the same number of goal involvements he managed in 25 appearances in 2017-18.

Erik Lamela and Riyad Mahrez (R)   -  Getty Images/AP

 

Riyad Mahrez must be envious of his fellow winger's shot conversion rate of 25 per cent, with his own 13.6 per cent meaning the pair are level on goals despite the City man featuring in four more matches.

The ex-Leicester City playmaker, who notably missed a last-gasp penalty at Anfield earlier this month, has created nine chances to Lamela's two while recording marginally better numbers for passing accuracy and dribble success rate.

HISTORY SAYS...

Discount the draw. Just two of the most recent 28 league meetings between these teams have ended level.

City has won 11 of those but 10 have come in the last 15 alone, illustrating the size of Tottenham's task.

Spurs might take encouragement from last losing a Premier League match on a Monday way back in April 2012, but it seems scant consolation in view of Guardiola going undefeated in all five such fixtures.

Providing Pochettino with hope will be the knowledge Tottenham has netted at least once in each of its last 29 home games in all competitions.

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