With the memory of their Champions League classic still fresh, Spurs can dent City’s season further if they derail their title push at the Etihad.
Having knocked Pep Guardiola’s men out of Europe’s premier competition on Wednesday, Spurs can strengthen their hopes of making the top four with another win.
However, boss Mauricio Pochettino knows a change of mindset will be needed.
“The Premier League is different and we are fighting for different things,” he told his club’s official website.
“Manchester City are trying to win the Premier League and, for us, it’s so important to be in the top four for next season.”
With Liverpool having what appears on paper to be an easier run-in, City know that they can afford no slip-ups in a bid to defend their title.
There is considerable pressure on them as a result, but also on Spurs who, if they win, can put four points between themselves in third and Arsenal and Chelsea, who sit fourth and fifth and do not play until Sunday.
“We need to assess the players and need to be sure we are going there competing with fresh legs with the possibility to fight and challenge them again,” Pochettino added.
“That’s why we’re working so hard now to try to assess the players in the right way and try to mix players who can be competitive and have the possibility to win.”
To get the result he needs, after such a taxing night on Wednesday, the Argentinian admits he may have to field some fresh faces.
“City have an unbelievable squad, they can change and rotate the starting 11 and keep the same level on the pitch,” he said.
“With all the circumstances and some injuries, maybe we need to think about playing with younger players, not without experience, but with plenty of energy and keeping the same ideas – to be brave and try to compete.
“It’s going to be tough but we need to think about recovery and try to design the best strategy to try to be competitive.”
Each week, Sport360 will bring you tips for the English Premier League’s official fantasy football game. Fancy pitting your wits against us? You can join “Sport360 Fans League” using the code 2326997-532303.
Fantasy Premier League managers will be looking forward to Double Gameweek 35 and all the points it has to offer.
Of course at the tail end of the season, rotations are the biggest risks and trying to manage the team accordingly is no mean feat. If you get it right though, DGW35 could be very profitable indeed.
Eight teams play twice in this round with big-hitters Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United among them. Even though Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal feature just once, they enjoy attractive fixtures against Burnely, Cardiff City and Wolves respectively.
If you played your Wildcard chip in the previous round then now is the ideal time to use your Bench Boost and maximise your squad’s points.
CAPTAIN – RAUL JIMENEZ | WOLVES | 6.9M
Son Heung-min was our captain pick for GW34 and even though he was benched for Spurs’ clash against Huddersfield, he managed to come on and deliver a late assist.
This time, we’re turning to Raul Jimenez even though the Wolves striker disappointed with a single point away to Southampton last time out. That said, he has been a real threat at home and plays at the Molineux twice in this round.
Wolves host Brighton first, who have conceded 10 goals in their last three games, before Arsenal pay them a visit. In his last four home games, Jimenez has managed a double-figure haul three times, scoring three goals and providing three assists.
SADIO MANE (10.1m) isn’t exactly out-performing Mohamed Salah in terms of his underlying stats but he has been enjoying the better chances while his team-mate attempts shots from range. In terms of FPL points, Mane’s potential is starting to match the Egyptian’s. He has six goals in his last seven games and will be confident of striking again at struggling Cardiff City.
SERGIO AGUERO (11.7m) doesn’t have the most inviting fixtures but he’s chasing the Golden Boot and has usually delivered against top-six opposition. The Argentine has scored nine goals in 13 matches across competitions against United and 10 against Spurs in 14 league matches. The striker scores a goal every 116 minutes against top six sides.
ABDOULAYE DOUCOURE (5.9m) has emerged as an attacking force for Watford in recent weeks and has good fixtures away to Huddersfield and home to Southampton in this GW. With an ownership of just 3.2 per cent, the French midfielder is also a massive differential captain pick.
TWO TO WATCH
LUCAS MOURA | TOTTENHAM | 6.8M
After his hat-trick against Huddersfield, Lucas Moura has naturally forced his way into out thinking. It may feel like you’ve missed the gravy trained with the Brazilian but with Harry Kane out for the season, he is certain to get plenty of minutes on the pitch for the rest of the campaign. He plays twice in DGW35 and moving forward, boasts excellent fixtures as Spurs look to secure a top four spot.
NATHAN REDMOND | SOUTHAMPTON | 5.3M
With a brace against Wolves in GW34, Nathan Redmond delivered on the potential he’s been showing for much of the season. The Southampton attacker has been guilty of wastefulness in front of goal in the past but with a couple of goals and an assist in his last three, the Englishman has emerged as an option with the Saints travelling to Newcastle United and Watford in this round before facing Bournemouth and Huddersfield at home and West Ham away in the run-in.
Three days after putting on one of the most electric Champions League games in history, the two teams meet once more. City have to drag themselves out of the depression, needing a win to keep their dream of retaining the Premier League title alive.
And while Spurs will still have their heads in the clouds following their memorable Wednesday night win – they actually lost the second leg 4-3 but went through to the semi-finals on way goals after a 4-4 draw – they are in an equally thrilling battle with three other teams for the two remaining top four spots.
Without further ado, let’s pick out some burning issues heading into the game.
HOW DO CITY PICK THEMSELVES UP?
City are tantamount to titanium under Pep Guardiola, who has harnessed his team’s total potential to make them a giant of European football – even much-improved Liverpool, who have lost only once all season, will still be second if City win their game in hand.
And yet, the Champions League proved yet again that City aren’t quite Teflon as they exited following a scintillating see-saw spectacle with Tottenham.
It’s a competition that’s served as City’s Achilles heel – they’ve never reached the final and have only gone beyond the quarter-finals once (in 2015/16).
The good news, or bad depending on which way you look at it, is that they get an instant shot at revenge this weekend as they Face Spurs again – this time in the league – at the Etihad.
However, how will City handle their European heartbreak? We all know how dominant they’ve been domestically in recent seasons, but the continental competition is where a team’s real mettle is tested. And after participating in one of the most epic Champions League ties in the competition’s 28-year history – and finishing on the losing side – Guardiola now has to steel his side for a Premier League title defence that involves a far harsher run-in than challengers Liverpool.
The Champions League is the one he, and everyone connected with City wants, so just how fragile will their mental state be now their quadruple dreams have been quashed?
SPURS MUST GET BACK TO BUSINESS
Whereas City must now refocus in order to maintain a grip on their Premier League trophy, Spurs can also not afford to bask too much in the glow of their momentous feat – they are in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time.
Not since the days of Danny Blanchflower, Jimmy Greaves and Cliff Jones in the 1961/62 season have Spurs featured in a European Cup last four match, when they exited 4-3 on aggregate at the hands of brilliant Benfica.
But magical memories of Wednesday must now be put to one side as they look to nail down a top-four spot – Mauricio Pochettino’s side are third right now but face a second daunting trip to City in the space of three days.
Wins for Champions League-chasing Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United this weekend would see Spurs slip to sixth and possibly left needing to win the Champions League in order to qualify for it next season.
Back-to-back wins over Crystal Palace and relegated Huddersfield in the league have seen Pochettino’s side correct an alarming slide during which they’d lost four and drawn one of their previous five games.
City is their hardest game left but the remaining four to follow are hardly processions, with a trip to Bournemouth and home fixtures against relegation battlers Brighton as well as Everton and West Ham to come.
All the while they now have the headache – albeit a welcome, painless one – of juggling this load with a two-legged European semi-final tie with Ajax.
A predicament for Pochettino, but a nice one to have.
CITY’S STARS ARE SHINING AND SINKING
On top of needing to pick themselves up off the floor following a knockout blow from Spurs, City are beset by the fact several key men seem to be besieged by a loss of form, while others are in pristine condition.
David Silva has been off colour for at least a month now while namesake Bernardo has come of age this season. On Wednesday night Silva of Spain passed with just 73.1 per cent accuracy – the worst of any team-mate by some distance – and was taken off just past the hour.
Aymeric Laporte was way off the pace he’s set in recent months – committing two key errors that led to Spurs goals – while even his traditional goal couldn’t detract from the fact Sergio Aguero looked jaded. Bar his fine finish that put City 3-2 ahead he struggled to have a truly telling impact on the game and was well shackled by Victor Wanyama and Moussa Sissoko, who were both excellent.
On the other hand, Raheem Sterling was nigh on unplayable and continued his lethal goalscoring form. His brace – remember he was denied what would have been a match-winning hat-trick at the death by VAR – made it 24 goals overall for the season, his best tally ever.
It’s also a fillip for Guardiola that Kevin De Bruyne – who he has largely had to leave out of his plans for the majority of the season – is hitting his stride at the perfect time.
Three assists and a man of the match display in midweek will ultimately matter little to either the Belgian or his manager. But it’s nice to have the league’s finest midfielder returning to both fitness and form.
As Guardiola looks to regather his thoughts and his side look to regroup ahead of another skirmish with Spurs, it will be intriguing to see how the wounded beast responds.