We take on Manchester City for the third time in 12 days at the Etihad on Saturday. After an epic Champions League quarter-final over two legs, we turned to BBC Sport’s football reporter Simon Stone, previously Chief Football Writer at the Press Association and a man who knows the Manchester football scene inside-out, for his thoughts on this vital Premier League encounter in our latest ‘Preview from the Press Box’.
We came through that thrilling Champions League quarter-final on away goals after the tie finished 4-4 on aggregate. Now it’s the Premier League and City fighting for the the title while we continue our bid for a place in the top four.
Here are Simon’s thoughts…
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State of play
Simon: “From City’s perspective the interesting thing will be how what happened on Wednesday night has affected the club and more importantly, Pep Guardiola. You could see from his reaction… everyone knows how much the Champions League means to him and you could see how devastated he was after Raheem Sterling’s goal was disallowed. That disappointment could fall into the Premier League form or it could galvanise the team. It’s a bit of an unknown. City won the title with so many points and goals last season, they’ve gone over that fence already, so is winning the league – and I suspect winning every game is essential for City now – enough to galvanise them? Also, how will Spurs be affected by what happened? Will there be a drop off in their performance? I think that’s the key element for City because – and they may say otherwise – the Champions League is so important for them, huge.”
Dele tussles with Fernandinho
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Simon: “I’m sure City will go at it the same as they did on Wednesday night. If only because they will want to make a statement about how good they are as a team and a club. They’ve scored a phenomenal amount of goals this season and I don’t see them going any other way. There may be changes at the back – I’ll be surprised if Benjamin Mendy plays again, I’ll surprised if Vincent Kompany plays and I’d expect a better performance from Aymeric Laporte. I would imagine City will try to be more secure at the back. Fernandinho will come back in and they will believe they can keep Tottenham out and just attack them – not forgetting they scored four goals on Wednesday night. They will back their attacking players and the way they play to score goals again.”