Print Edition - 2017-12-16 | Sports
On the record run, Guardiola faces tough Tottenham test
- english premier league
Dec 16, 2017-
Pep Guardiola’s hunger to make history with Manchester City remains undiminished after his side became the first in the history of the English top flight to win 15 successive games.
City reached the milestone with a ruthless 4-0 victory at Swansea City on Wednesday, which preserved their massive 11-point lead at the Premier League summit. They will face a sterner test on Saturday at home to a resurgent Tottenham Hotspur, but Guardiola is relishing the prospect of facing a rival team whose approach to the game chimes with his own.
“Tottenham, with Chelsea, is the best team in the way to play football,” Guardiola said. “They don’t expect the other ones (to take the initiative)—they want to make their own game. It is another amazing test for us. It is every three days. After Tottenham it is Leicester in the Carabao Cup, so there is not too much time to recover. But we are ready to face them and try to keep that level we have shown in the last period.”
City’s win at Swansea made them the first team in the history of English league football to have won 15 games in a row and they now have new milestones in sight. Beat Spurs at the Etihad Stadium and Guardiola will match his longest run of successive league wins with the great Barcelona team he led to a La Liga and Champions League double in 2010-11.
He would then be just three wins off the overall record for Europe’s top five leagues, which he also set—a 19-game winning streak with Bayern Munich in 2013-14. City’s relentless form, and the spellbinding quality of their football, has led some observers to suggest they could be the finest team England has ever seen. But far from dreading the trip to the Etihad, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino will savour it.
After four league games without a win, Spurs have won on their last two outings, crushing Stoke City 5-1 and beating Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0. Victory over Brighton on Wednesday took Spurs back into the top four and Pochettino says he and his players will travel to the northwest in buoyant mood.
“We’re going to Manchester thinking we can win,” said the Argentinian, whose team came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at City last season. “We’re going to enjoy it, because it’s a fantastic challenge to play against Manchester City. They’re the best team in England and one of the best in Europe. I’m so excited to play, because I love to play against teams and managers like Guardiola, that are the best. I’m so motivated and so happy that we are going to play a team at their best.”
Relations between the two managers were not as cordial in October, after Pochettino took exception to Guardiola’s description of his side as “the Harry Kane team”. Pochettino branded the comments “disrespectful”, but Guardiola said the Spurs manager had “made a mistake” in his interpretation of the remark. Kane, who found the net twice against Stoke, needs to score four more goals to beat Alan Shearer’s 1995 record of 36 Premier League goals in a calendar year.
Dele Alli will expect to be recalled after starting the win over Brighton on the bench, but Toby Alderweireld remains injured and Davinson Sanchez is suspended. Sergio Aguero impressed on his return to City’s starting XI at Swansea, scoring a slick solo goal to seal victory, and will hope to keep his place against Spurs. Kyle Walker and Leroy Sane are both expected to return to the starting lineup, having watched the Swansea game from the bench.
Leicester vs Palace (1815 NST)
Arsenal vs Newcastle (2045 NST)
Brighton vs Burnley (2045 NST)
Chelsea vs Southampton (2045 NST)
Stoke vs West Ham (2045 NST)
Watford vs Huddersfield (2045 NST)
Man City vs Spurs (2315 NST)
Published: 16-12-2017 09:33