Premier League: How Tottenham Hotspur Will Line Up Against Manchester City

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Premier League: How Tottenham Hotspur Will Line Up Against Manchester City
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Tottenham will be hoping to be able to keep up with a flying Manchester City this time around.

On Wednesday night, Manchester City will come up against what is on paper essentially the same Tottenham Hotspur team they thrashed 6-0 in November.

Plenty about Tottenham has changed since that Sunday afternoon slaughtering, however. Enough that the North London club will hope to fare a lot better than they did when they last crossed paths with Manuel Pellegrini's Mancunian marauders.

Chief among those changes is that Tim Sherwood is the man now charged with attempting to stop a Man City side that have gone 19 games unbeaten, beginning with that late-autumn victory.

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Tim Sherwood will pit his wits against Manuel Pellegrini, a manager who has not got much wrong lately.

Without a defeat in six matches since Sherwood replaced Andre Villas-Boas, Spurs are enjoying a Premier League purple patch of their own.

Considering the previous contest between the two teams already this season, not to mention City's ongoing good form, Sherwood's pre-match fighting talk is brave to say the least.

According to Spurs' Twitter account, Sherwood plans for his club to "impose our game on them", believing Spurs have "nothing to fear." This might have sounded overly optimistic if the evidence was not there in recent weeks that Man City can be hurt by such a positive approach.

Liverpool were unlucky not to take at least a point on Boxing Day, having taken the game to their North West rivals. Though City's class ultimately told, Watford took advantage of Pellegrini's changed, less-familiar defence to race into a two-nil lead in this past weekend's FA Cup clash.

Spurs' own FA Cup defeat to Arsenal showed that putting two up front and going in with intentions of attacking does not mean much if the performance does not match. But having already set up to be more defensive against City last time, and then getting so thoroughly exposed, Sherwood is right for not wanting his team to play on the back foot.

Heading into this game, Sherwood has stated on Tottenham's official website his delight at several first-team players coming back from injury. Several of which featured in a friendly with West Ham United last week:

The manager was careful to also note that he would be making sure they are ready before calling on the aforementioned players again. As it applies to the City game, perhaps only one of that quartet will be involved from the startmore on that a little later.

According to BBC Sport's preview, Erik Lamela and Andros Townsend are still unable to be called upon.

In the interest of maintaining the recent stability of the team, Spurs' back five is likely to remain unchanged.

Sang Tan/Associated Press
Things have not quite fallen for Roberto Soldado as well as he would have liked of late.

Hugo Lloris is well used to Michael Dawson and Vlad Chiriches in central defence in front of him, with Kyle Walker and Danny Rose on either side at full-back. The return of Jan Vertonghen in particular may tempt Sherwood into change down the line, but unsettling his defensive unit now would not be conducive to dealing with City's fearsome attack.

The shape of the rest of the team is where Sherwood's big decision lies. A starting XI similar to that fielded in the win over Swansea City two weekends ago—with Emmanuel Adebayor as the only official forward—could well be favoured.

Playing at White Hart Lane, though, it would not be a surprise to see him field a front two, with Roberto Soldado drafted back in alongside Adebayor to help give City as much to contend with as possible.

The Spaniard's form has been erratic, but he must surely know the importance of making his presence felt in a big game against a top-four rival. Should Sherwood call on him, the manager will bank on the striker being motivated as such.

There will be a big onus on the midfield to ensure the front pairing are well-supplied while not letting City get entirely their own way.

Aaron Lennon will almost certainly continue in right midfield, with Christian Eriksen playing inside left is a good bet too.

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Nabil Bentaleb has been coming along nicely in recent weeks. Competing with Man City will prove harder than even some of his recent battles.

Mousa Dembele will be charged with finding a happy balance on both sides of the ball as he attempts to deal with the dynamism of a Man City midfield possibly featuring the skillful David Silva and the versatile pairing of Paulinho and Yaya Toure.

He did not start the last time the two teams met and, in hindsight, his athleticism and ability to turn defence into attack was missed.

The identity of his partner in midfield is most intriguing. Nabil Bentaleb is coming along nicely since his introduction to the first team. The prospect of bringing Paulinho or Sandro—or, less likely, Lewis Holtbyback into the fold gives Sherwood different options.

For fear of introducing a player who might not be quite match-fit into such a potentially intense contest, Bentaleb is likely to be persevered with. If such a decision is made, it will be a big test in the young Frenchman's early development.

A lot has changed since November for Tottenham. Should they leave White Hart Lane on Wednesday night with three points, or at least a draw, they will have a right to feel it has definitely been for the better.

Against the Premier League's most devastating team right now, that will be easier said than done.

 

Predicted Tottenham line-up vs. Manchester City:

Hugo Lloris; Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson (c), Vlad Chiriches, Danny Rose; Aaron Lennon, Nabil Bentaleb, Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen; Emmanuel Adebayor, Roberto Soldado.

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