The big draw of this weekend’s Premier League action is the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City on Sunday. Jose Mourinho will look to get one over Pep Guardiola as the two arch-rivals lock horns once again.
City travel to Spurs on the back of a narrow 0-1 loss to Manchester United in the Carabao Cup second leg, but Pep Guardiola’s men qualified to the final on aggregate. Spurs, meanwhile, could only secure a draw against Southampton in the fourth round of the FA Cup and face a replay.
The two sides played out a 2-2 draw the last time they faced each other in the league, and both sides will want a win this time around. Spurs need a win to stay in the Europa League qualifying spots, but they go into this game as the underdogs.
How could Mourinho outwit and win against Guardiola’s men?
Let’s take a look at 3 things Tottenham Hotspur should do to beat Manchester City
Man-mark Kevin de Bruyne
Kevin de Bruyne is the orchestrator in the Manchester City team – a player who is vitally important for Guardiola’s men to be successful. The Belgian is having yet another dream season, having registered 7 goals and 15 assists. His superlative passing and crossing, as well as his work-rate, keeps the City midfield ticking, which is why Mourinho will want to keep him quiet.
The Tottenham manager could use one of his defensive midfielder – someone like Eric Dier – to man-mark de Bruyne out of the game and not allow him to turn and run at the Spurs midfield and backline. He could play a narrow midfield that will not allow City players to pass and dominate in the midfield area, in turn not allowing the Belgian to make passes into the box.
Target the centre-backs
It’s an open secret that Manchester City’s Achilles heel is their defence – in particular, their centre-backs. Aymeric Laporte returned to the side against Sheffield United but has not featured in the two following games. Guardiola revealed ahead of this game against Spurs that Laporte was fatigued but he could return to the side.
But, how fit will the Frenchman be this weekend, having not completed a full game since August? We will find out the answer to this question possibly this weekend. If Guardiola persists with a three-man defence, Spurs’ two strikers – Son and Moura, could target them with their pace and direct running. Fernandinho, John Stones and Otamendi haven’t looked comfortable against players who drive at them, which could be one strategy used by Mourinho.
This is the best chance for Mourinho’s forwards to test the City centre-backs who have let their team down on multiple occasions this time.
It’s quite obvious that Jose will play a low block, flooding the midfield area, and perhaps even playing a three-man defence. But, Mourinho needs the win, especially with Spurs playing at home, and the best way to do it is to keep three attackers in and around the City defence at all times.
Tottenham should play Son and Moura as the two strikers, with them splitting and defending out on the wings when not with the ball. Dele Alli should play off them and make clever runs in and around the penalty area and take shots while also releasing both Son and Moura at every opportunity. The pace of the trio could work against City’s weak defence. Mourinho could keep the rest of the 7 outfield players in defensive positions and play direct football to the three attackers.