We are reaching halfway point of the five fixture spell that could define this season. Next up is the home leg of the Quarter-Final with Tottenham, who hold an advantage by one goal going into the match. It is important to put behind last week’s loss and concentrate on fresh tactics to make sure we keep our momentum and progress to the next leg.
Pep Guardiola chose a conservative line-up in his previous match against Spurs, choosing the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Fabian Delph. After seeing the level of confidence in his interviews post-match, it seemed that he was keen to keep the score low and avoid a repeat of the horror show at Anfield last season at this very stage. If we remember correctly, City were well dominant in the home leg and had the gap not been three goals (as well as some poor officiating), Liverpool would’ve been under a lot of pressure and City could’ve made that dominance count. This time, it is only a case of scoring two goals while keeping a clean sheet that would ensure Manchester City progress to the Semi-Finals of this year’s competition.
The clean sheet holds major significance, as even a single away goal would mean that City would have to score at least three. Tottenham have been good on the road this year, especially considering they didn’t have a real home until the last three matches of their campaign, of which they have in fact won all three. They have the 3rd best away record in the league compared to the 6th best home record. The bigger pitch at Wembley could also be a factor in this; with the tight, constrictive and physical game that Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino likes his players to play, more suited to smaller grounds. Manchester City on the other hand flourish on bigger pitches, allowing our wide men to make it appear even bigger and giving them space to run into as well – giving the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan the time to play killer-balls behind the opposition defence.
Tottenham have a few injury problems going into Wednesday night’s clash. Their talisman Harry Kane is ruled out after an injury in the first leg, while Dele Alli and Harry Winks are also both doubts. Both players only have minor injuries and were rested at the weekend. Nevertheless, Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min are in great form and their pace will suit Spurs who will afford City the majority of possession and try to hit on the break.
Pep Guardiola must play his best possible team in this match and that means Fabian Delph and Nicolas Otamendi must sit this one out. Benjamin Mendy should be able to play one more match this week and he should be chosen after his excellent performance against Crystal Palace on Sunday. Oleksandr Zinchenko is expected to be fit for the league fixture against Tottenham, giving Guardiola the opportunity to maintain Benjamin Mendy’s place in the team. Aymeric Laporte and Vincent Kompany would be a good partnership in the centre of defence. Fernandinho should be back from injury and the return of Bernardo Silva will be a huge boost as we missed his energy and creativity last week. Sergio Aguero has looked off the pace since his injury while Gabriel Jesus was bright when he came on, and so the Brazilian should be given the chance to make an impact.
If Manchester City play at their best on Wednesday night, it should be enough to progress. I am predicting a 3-1 win with Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne being the main difference makers on the night.
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