Key Matchups That Will Shape Tottenham's Match Against Manchester City
Tottenham face a stern test Wednesday as they play host to Manchester City in a Premier League battle with massive implications.
The Spur will hope to keep pace with Liverpool in the pursuit of a top-four finish and a place in next season's Champions League. Meanwhile, City will be looking to jump past Arsenal to the top of the table, placing the fate of the title race in their own hands.
With so much riding on this match, what should fans be looking for on Wednesday?
Here are the tactical battles in Wednesday's match between Tottenham and Manchester City at White Hart Lane.
Emmanuel Adebayor vs. His Old Team
When Tim Sherwood took over as manager of Tottenham Hotspur, the Englishman's first act was to re-install Emmanuel Adebayor into the starting lineup. Ever since, the Togolese striker has become good and started scoring at will for the Spur.
Adebayor has had some fantastic performances against his former employers over the course of his career and can be borderline unplayable on his day.
Can the big striker come good one more time and propel Tottenham to another positive result?
Bentaleb and Dembele vs. City Midfield
At the start of the season, Tottenham supporters would not have suspected that Nabil Bentaleb and Moussa Dembele would be starting in the middle of the park for a big match; however, after a few injuries and some good performances, that looks like it will turn out to be the case.
Although Bentaleb and Dembele have done well over the past few matches against some lower competition, it's unclear how they will be able to handle a talented midfield such as Manchester City's.
Can Dembele hold the ball up as well in front of the likes of Yaya Toure? Can Bentaleb stifle the silky movement of Fernandinho?
Edin Dzeko vs. Tottenham's Back Line
Even though Manchester City's blockbuster summer signing, striker Alvaro Negredo, was named in the club's squad for Wednesday's match despite injury, it is unlikely the Spaniard will be able to play the full 90 minutes.
While this may seem like a good thing for Tottenham, his probable replacement, Edin Dzeko, is almost as scary of a prospect for the Spur.
In his last four encounters with the North Londoners, Dzeko has scored five goals, including a four-goal explosion and a late match-winner. What's worse, the Spur's back line hasn't been impenetrable this season, struggling to minimize the impact of big strikers.
How well will they be able to cope with Dzeko at White Hart Lane?
Tim Sherwood vs. a Top Team
Since Andre Villas-Boas was relieved of duty as manager of Tottenham Hotspur, Tim Sherwood has stepped in and done an amazing job.
In six Premier League matches under the former White Hart Lane player, the Spur have gone undefeated and picked up 16 of a possible 18 points to vault them back into the hunt for the top four.
To be fair, though, those six matches were against Southampton, West Brom, Stoke, Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Swansea, not one of which is in the top six. In fact, the only match the Spur have played against a club in the top six under Sherwood was their FA Cup encounter with Arsenal, in which they were thoroughly outplayed.
Is this promising young manager ready to rise to the occasion in a big match and compete with a club at the top of the league? Or is his style with this side suited for beating up on the lesser sides?
Aaron Lennon vs. Aleksandar Kolarov
Since he returned from injury in late December, Aaron Lennon has been a key cog in Tottenham's suddenly potent attack; however, he has feasted on left-backs who were lacking in talent, experience or a combination of the two.
On Wednesday, Lennon will face a tough test in City left-back Aleksandar Kolarov.
If Kolarov can consistently get the better of Lennon and neutralize the Englishman's attack, he could completely stifle Tottenham's threat.
Spur vs. Their Memories
The first time Tottenham and Manchester City squared off this season, the Spur suffered one of their worst ever defeats, going down 6-0 at the Etihad.
This terrible loss seemed to be a large contributing factor in the firing of manager Villas-Boas. Further, the North London club suffered a hangover after the loss, culminating in a similarly atrocious result against Liverpool.
Being on the wrong side of such a rout can obviously have an effect on a player's psyche; hence, it wouldn't be too surprising to see Tottenham enter this match tentatively.
How well has the Spur's squad moved on from November's crushing defeat?
Wednesday's match between Tottenham and Manchester City is a battle of two of the top five clubs in England.
If just because of the impact it will have on the title and Champions League races, the match will be an incredibly interesting one.
Despite the match taking place at White Hart Lane, the Spur will enter the match as clear underdogs, essentially removing any pressure; however, the squad will also face the specter of the humiliation that was their loss at the Etihad in November.
How do you think the match will unfold? Let us know in the comment section below.