Tottenham face arduous task of stopping Riyad Mahrez in Manchester City clash

Sooraj Kamath - Writer 15:50 16/08/2019
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Riyad Mahrez

The first top-four clash of the 2019/20 season in the Premier League is already upon us as a rampant Manchester City take on a revamped Tottenham side at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The defending champions arrive in the fixture in fine form, having destroyed West Ham 5-0 away from home. Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez were City’s top performers from their opener and could hold the key against the North London side as well.

Spurs produced a second-half comeback against Aston Villa to register a 3-1 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. New-signing Tanguy Ndombele opened the scoring with a belter and Harry Kane added a brace to take Spurs home.

Which team will keep the momentum by emerging victorious in this key clash? We take a look at the talking points.

Three at the back for Spurs?

Toby Alderweireld

City’s trademark style of creating chances includes patient build-up, some wing-play and then a cut-back. They implement this with such perfection that the opponents fail to prevent the inevitable despite knowing what’s hitting them.

Against such a system, a 3-5-2 could go a long way in ensuring that the cut-backs are minimised and City are forced to cross the ball. Extra bodies in the wing could attempt to stop Sterling and Mahrez from wreaking havoc and force them to lay off for a cross.

Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero are not the best in the air and Spurs will still have the extra centre-back to thwart the deliveries.

Eriksen is key

Eriksen

Christian Eriksen did not start for Spurs against Aston Villa last week. It is highly likely that Mauricio Pochettino benched him due to the lack of clarity on his future. The Denmark international was linked to Real Madrid and Manchester United but is now likely to stay at the club.

But there is no room for such reservations when Spurs lock horns with the best side in the Premier League. The team looked sharp the moment Eriksen came off the bench last week. The creativity he adds to the midfield will be necessary against a team like City.

It’s fair to assume that the hosts will enjoy a lion’s share of the possession. Spurs must hence create as many chances as they possibly can. The link-up between Eriksen and Kane could hence help Spurs make a strong case in this contest.

Can Spurs stop Mahrez?

mahrez (1)

Mahrez could make a strong case for being the best player in the Premier League in the last four seasons. It’s scary to imagine that we probably haven’t witnessed his peak yet. The Algerian is set to play a crucial role in City’s title defence and his masterclass against West Ham was just a precursor to what he has in store this season.

Pep Guardiola sparingly used the forward in his debut season at the club, much like he did with Bernardo Silva during his debut. But the Catalan boss will be unleashing the beast this season and Spurs could be one of the first in the potentially long list of casualties.

Rose will be presented with the defender’s nightmare of keeping the winger in check. Should he succeed in doing so, Spurs will gain a huge advantage on the flanks. This battle will hence play a huge role in shaping the outcome of the match.

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