How Manchester City Will Line Up Against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane

Phil KeidelContributor IIJanuary 28, 2014

Hugo Lloris had a nightmare of a day against City in November.
Hugo Lloris had a nightmare of a day against City in November.Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Form guides are a usually a very chancy way to evaluate what is likely to happen in a given match. Maybe a key player recently sustained an injury. Maybe the latest competition was not that strong. A form guide is silent as to those factors.

For Manchester City's coming rematch with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, though, the form guides seem like the Biblical truth.

Spurs have suffered two embarrassing, comprehensive beatings in Premier League play this year. The first came at the Etihad, when City ran roughshod over Spurs en route to a 6-0 victory.

The second, incredibly, came at the Lane when Liverpool chased Spurs all over their own pitch in a 5-0 whitewashing that finally convinced the Tottenham brass to cut ties with Andre Villas-Boas.

Since that nadir, though, Spurs are unbeaten in the league, and under new boss Tim Sherwood have relocated their scoring touch.

Here is Tottenham's form in their last six in the Premier League, recent to distant: W,W,W,W,D,W. That run includes road wins at Manchester United and Southampton.

That is no joke.

Of course, here is Manchester City's form in their last six: W,W,W,W,W,W. The Citizens won the match before that, too, against league-leading Arsenal.

City are only an even-money choice at Ladbrokes to win the match, though either a Spurs win or draw still offers a decent 13-to-5 return. This match promises high quality—amazingly for City fans, it is but a savory appetizer in advance of the coming main course against Chelsea five days later.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini can afford to put out his best against Spurs even with the showdown with Chelsea to come given that five-day spread. And the way the league title race is playing out, Pellegrini really cannot risk anything resembling squad rotation at White Hart Lane anyway.

One thing working in Pellegrini's favor this time out is that he can start Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany instead of Costel Pantilimon and Matija Nastasic. Aleksandar Kolarov is thus likely to start over Gael Clichy as well; an attacking, overlapping defender like Kolarov suits Pellegrini's preferred style.

My predicted XI for City against Tottenham Hotspur therefore looks like this: Hart, Kolarov, Martin Demichelis, Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta; David Silva, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Jesus Navas; Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko.

Alvaro Negredo will start if he is fit, but Pellegrini has no reason to let you or Spurs know how Negredo's ailing shoulder is doing until he submits his team sheet.

Whether Aguero and Dzeko can overcome their halting history as strike partners could well determine how many points (if any) the Sky Blues take from the Lane.