Manchester City are looking to revive their stuttering Premier League title challenge with a match against high-flying Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad.
Man City’s 4-0 destruction at the hands of Everton last week left them ten points behind leaders Chelsea, and although manager Pep Guardiola has conceded the title in public, he’ll be well aware of the effect that a morale-boosting win against Spurs could have on the club’s season.
The visitors, for their part, are looking to hammer another nail in a rival’s coffin while at the same time keeping their spot as Chelsea’s main challengers – a win would make it seven in a row since a 1-0 defeat on their last visit to Manchester in December.
With one side soaring and another stuttering, using ratings from Whoscored how would a combined eleven of the two shape up?
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
This was never going to be in doubt. Lloris (Whoscored rating of 6.70) has been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the league this season, solidifying his place as one of the best in Europe.
Claudio Bravo (6.43), meanwhile, has been so poor that many are now pining for the “glory days” of Joe Hart, and that’s just unforgivable.
Right-Back: Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
Centre-Back: Jan Vertonghen (Totteham)
Centre-Back: Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City)
Left-Back: Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur)
In the full-back positions (and lately as wing-backs), Kyle Walker (7.48) and Danny Rose (7.48) have been highly effective performers for Tottenham. The duo are contenders for PFA Team of the Season based on their respective seasons so far, and their transformation to the best partnership of their kind in the league has been staggering.
In the centre, Nicolas Otamendi (7.61) has been one of the few Man City defenders to emerge with any credit this season on the grounds that he is not error or injury-prone. With a better unit around him, the Argentine centre-half would not be seeing his performances go to waste.
Next to him is Jan Vertognhen (7.35), one half of Spurs’ Belgian rearguard. Toby Alderweireld may get the louder plaudits, but Vertonghen’s displays this season, particularly in Alderweireld’s absence, have been very assured.
Centre Midfield: Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham)
Centre Midfield: Dele Alli (Tottenham)
Mousa Dembélé (7.25) has long been the unsung hero of the Spurs midfield, but his absence is felt every time he is not playing. The Belgian’s dribbling and ball retention make him an ideal foil for the more robust Victor Wanyama next to him, and he shields the defence impeccably.
Dele Alli (7.36) has forged a reputation as one of the brightest prospects in the world, to the point where Tottenham at least had to entertain the question that Real Madrid might be interested. Based on recent performances he has also added goals to his game and is forging a productive partnership with Harry Kane in an advanced midfield position.
Right Wing: Kevin De Bruyne
Left Wing: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
At times, De Bruyne (7.44) must feel like he is carrying this team almost single-handedly. One gets the impression that if Man City can save their season (or at least finish in the top four), the 25-year-old will play a huge role in that. His ability to play anywhere along the midfield and forward line has (and will continue to) come in handy, especially in Guardiola’s sometimes muddled formations, and his chance creation stats (3.1 per game on average) are significantly higher than his teammates.
On the subject of chance creation, Christian Eriksen (7.51) has become Tottenham’s creator-in-chief. The Danish international has laid on three key passes per game, and his record of eight Premier League assists so far this season is bettered only by De Bruyne on nine.
Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Striker: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
As if it needed to be reiterated, this season has shown once again why Harry Kane (7.52) is regarded as one of the best strikers in the Premier Leauge. The 2016 Golden Boot winner has 13 goals in 16 league games this season and is central to Spurs’ title aspirations.
Aguero (7.26), meanwhile, has a goalscoring record just about as impressive as Kane this season (11 in 15 games) but the Argentine striker hasn’t quite formed a partnership with either De Bruyne or David Silva that would propel the side to a level above that which they are currently performing at.
With eight Tottenham players and just three from Man City, the form guide would suggest that Guardiola’s side’s title hopes could be buried on Saturday evening.