First-place Manchester City returns to Premier League play in search of a new winning streak, beginning with Tottenham in Saturday’s matchup at White Hart Lane.
After winning their first five matches, Manuel Pellegrini’s side tasted defeat for the first time all season when West Ham pulled off an upset last week despite City dominating int the second half and firing off 27 total shots.
City ran into the stellar keeping of the Hammers’ Adrian, who tallied seven saves, and sorely missed top defender Vincent Kompany after he sustained a calf injury in Champions League play against Juventus.
But they quickly regained form with a 4-1 victory over Sunderland in the third round of the Capital One Cup, and Kompany’s presence is expected against Tottenham.
Pellegrini will also bring back midfielder Samir Nasri, but City will be shorthanded with winger David Silva out again with a calf injury. Strikers Wilfried Bony and Kelechi Iheanacho are also ruled out. Kompany’s return will at the very least alleviate defender Eliaquim Mangala’s absence due to a groin injury.
The Etihad’s splash summer signings proved the difference versus Sunderland with Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling each finding the net, and forward Sergio Aguero chipping his second goal of the season from the penalty spot. The Argentine faced questions about his fitness after enduring a knee injury against Crystal Palace, but Pellegrini urged patience from supporters.
“I think that against Sunderland he was practically 100 per cent fit,” Pellegrini told reporters Friday. “He was an important player during the game, he participated in all the goals. He scores the penalty and he had other chances.
“I think for tomorrow he is 100 per cent fit. Maybe after his injury he was not alright, especially against West Ham he was not 100 percent but he is now okay.”
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino would like to avoid facing an in-form Aguero. Last season, he netted all five of City’s goals when the two sides clashed, both victories.
Tottenham are coming off a difficult 2-1 Capital One loss to Arsenal, which snapped their three-game winning streak and six-game run without a loss.
Currently sitting in ninth place on the table, Tottenham have managed to stay afloat on the domestic front despite netting only five goals in six matches. It doesn’t bode well for Pochettino’s attack that their only goal against Arsenal was a result of defender Calum Chambers' blunder and not their strategies and execution.
But Spurs can clearly take advantage of a hobbled City side as star striker Harry Kane aims for his first goal of the season.
Tottenham do have some injury concerns, but are otherwise at full strength. Midfielders Mousa Dembele, Alex Pritchard and Nabil Bentaleb are each recovering from ankle knocks, while Ryan Mason sits out his fourth straight.
Betting Odds: Manchester City -0.5
Over/Under: 3 goals
Kickoff Time: Saturday, 7:45 a.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports
Live Online: NBC Live Extra