Even though Manchester City and Tottenham are both in promising positions through 10 league matches, each side would readily admit there's plenty of room for improvement. They will continue to search for top form in this weekend's marquee matchup.
City currently sits in third place, just two points behind rival Manchester United for the top spot. Yet, the squad hasn't been playing up to its potential and that's already led to a lot of Champions League disappointment. They can't allow that to continue.
Tottenham has fought back from a rough start to the campaign, which didn't feature a win until the fourth match, but still has a long way to go. With teams like Everton and West Brom exceeding expectations, the Spurs must improve to reach the top four.
Sunday's clash should serve as a terrific measuring stick matchup for both teams. Knowing that, here's a glance at the important viewing info for the match followed by a breakdown of each team.
Where: Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England
When: Sunday, Nov. 11 at 8:30 a.m. ET
Watch: Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
Manchester City: Which version of City will show up?
City have struggled to showcase any level of consistency. After watching their 3-0 demolition of Sunderland last month, it was easy to understand why they are the defending champions. It was a workmanlike performance where the Citizens simply outclassed an opponent.
But then they go out and look incapable of finishing chances against West Ham last week and you start wondering how City has managed to remain near the top of the table. It's become difficult to predict which version will show up for any given match.
The frustration has been apparent during Champions League matches. City was completely out of sorts for the first 20 minutes in a midweek draw with Ajax, a result that leaves them a long shot to advance from their group.
Moving forward, the biggest key for manager Roberto Mancini is finding the right lineup that he can count on in crucial matches. He tried making Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli all starters last week and it didn't work.
If there's any downside of having such a talented roster, that's it. There are so many different players looking for touches that it becomes difficult to make them all happy. So the search for the right mix will continue for Mancini.
At least the City boss always knows he can rely on Joe Hart between the pipes.
Tottenham: Can the Spurs earn a key road result?
Tottenham has actually been better on the road than at home in league play so far. The Spurs have won three of their four matches on opponents' turf, including a terrific performance at Old Trafford to knock off Manchester United.
Now fans will find out if lightning can strike twice. City hasn't dropped a single league match at home, making in clear Tottenham is fighting an uphill battle on Sunday. Given the shaky form of both clubs, though, anything can happen.
A lot has been made about Andre Villas-Boas' decision to take Jermain Defoe out before the hour mark during Tottenham's lackluster showing against Wigan last week. The manager has done a nice job of diffusing the situation, which is key because Defoe is a critical piece of the attack.
While there has been plenty of focus on Defoe and Clint Dempsey, the Spurs also need improvement in the midfield. One of the main reasons the offense has struggled to perform consistently is a lack of control in the middle, which makes it more difficult to create chances.
That means players like Sandro and Tom Huddlestone have to elevate their level of play while the club awaits the return of Scott Parker, who should bring some stability. It's an area to watch during Sunday's match to see which team is deciding the pace.
All told, Tottenham has enough talent to reach the top four and stay there, but they have to keep improving and finding ways to earn points on the road.
Earning three points in this match would be huge for City. It would allow the Spurs to put the Champions League struggles aside while also putting some distance between themselves and another top three threat. Tottenham will put up a good fight, but it won't be enough.
Manchester City 2, Tottenham 1
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