Premier League champions Manchester City welcome Tottenham to the Etihad, looking for a fourth successive league win against Spurs. City recovered from a slightly rocky start to their title defence with four wins on the trot before settling for a 0-0 draw against West Ham at Upton Park in the last game.
Spurs, meanwhile, continue posting inconsistent displays and results, and come into this match on the back of a 0-1 home defeat to Wigan Athletic. The good thing, though, is that Andre Villas-Boas' men did win in midweek - a resounding 3-1 win at White Hart Lane against Slovenian club NK Maribor - in a UEFA Europa League group stage match. England international Jermain Defoe is in fine form for the visitors, taking his season's tally to eight goals in 15 appearances with the hat-trick against Maribor.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-off is set for 1.30 pm GMT and live coverage begins at 1 pm GMT on Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 1 HD and Sky 3D.
City manager Roberto Mancini met the club's new director of football, ex-Barcelona man Txiki Begiristain, earlier this week, and was told the club's performances in the Champions League had to improve. The reigning English champions may have been handed a tough group to qualify from but only two points from four games and a second successive group stage exit is unlikely to sit well with the club's owners. The pressure, therefore, is squarely on the Italian to rally his side and produce a commanding win against a tricky Spurs side.
City's league form has been reasonably strong of late, with four wins in the last five; more importantly, the Citizens are the only team to remain unbeaten in the league, so far. Rivals Manchester United and European champions Chelsea may still hold the upper hand in the Premier League (with 27 and 23 points to City's 22) but the Etihad club remain in a strong position from which to launch a title defence.
The club were both unlucky and fortunate to finish the game at Upton Park all square and goalless. The Hammers' Kevin Nolan had an early goal ruled out for offside (replays suggest he may have been just onside) but failed to make the advantage count, with the hosts' defensive trio of Jussi Jaaskelainen, Winston Reid and James Collins working hard. At the other end, City's own defensive heroics were only just keeping Sam Allardyce's side out of the net.
Those same defensive frailties were once again exposed in the midweek Champions League game, with visitors Ajax Amsterdam easing into a two goal lead inside 20 minutes. City did fight back well, through goals from Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure and Argentine Sergio Agüero in an exciting game.
Tottenham come into this game with two contrasting prior results. Spurs suffered a shock home defeat to Wigan and, in truth, the score could have been worse than just 0-1. AVB's men had their chances though, most notably to summer signing Clint Dempsey, but it just was not coming together and the fans were understandably furious.
However, some measure of confidence and self-belief was restored with the 3-1 thumping of Maribor in the midweek game. Yes... it was weaker opposition and City are likely to give them a sterner test but at least Spurs travel to Manchester with a win behind them.
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): D D W L W
- Last Match: Manchester City 2 - 2 Ajax Amsterdam
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W L L W D
- Last Match: Tottenham 3 - 1 NK Maribor
Manchester City: As far as injury news goes, Mancini has a fair few problems, particularly at the back. England internationals Joleon Lescott, Jack Rodwell and James Milner are all unlikely to play and right back Micah Richards is out till December at least. The good news that Spanish playmaker David Silva was set to start has fallen through as well, with a place on the bench a more realistic result for the former Valencia man.
Elsewhere, summer signing Maicon may return to take the right back position in the absence of Richards. However, if there is the chance the Brazilian may still be carrying some traces of ankle injury, Argentine utility man Pablo Zabaleta may step in. The really good news, though, is City have no other major concerns and should name a strong side for this game. Mancini has been criticised for chopping and changing the squad too often and the former Lazio and Inter Milan boss will probably keep things simple for this game.
Joe Hart takes his place in goal, with club captain Vincent Kompany and Serbian youngster Matija Nastasic in front of him. Frenchman Gael Clichy is in the left back slot. City's midfield was over-run in the game against Ajax and Mancini should really take steps to ensure that doesn't happen this game. Toure and Barry are likely to be the anchormen again and it would be prudent to see new signing Javi Garcia also start, forming a three-man midfield to provide support offensively and defensively.
Up front, French international Samir Nasri will likely continue in the playmaker role in the absence of Silva and after Mario Balotelli's energetic second half display against Ajax, expect the Italian to line up with Aguero in the attack.
This translates into a somewhat centrally-focused 4-3-1-2 set-up that may give Spurs' wide men, like Gareth Bale, too much room. However, the fact is Mancini really does not have genuine wingers in his squad. This way, Balotelli and Nasri can play off the flanks and cut in to support central play, without, hopefully, the club compromising space in the centre of the park and leaving openings for counter-attacks.
Probable Line-Up: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Toure, Barry, Garcia; Nasri; Balotelli, Agüero
Tottenham: AVB must turn to Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor and Defoe once again. The two combined brilliantly in the midweek win and the stats show Spurs are at their most potent when the two play together. Adebayor's physical presence, aerial ability and target-man capabilities allow the more mobile Defoe to play off him perfectly, as Maribor found out.
However, considering this is an away trip and they are playing the champions, it would not be surprising to see the former Chelsea boss revert to a traditional 4-5-1, with Defoe up front.
The big question is - who starts in goal? Summer signing Hugo Lloris has had a difficult few appearances and was partly to blame for Maribor's consolation goal. Moreover, the Frenchman does appear to be the designated cup goalkeeper for AVB, meaning American Brad Friedel is likely to return. Elsewhere, wing back Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Belgian Moussa Dembele are still unavailable, as are midfielders Scott Parker and Jake Livermore.
The absence of Assoue-Ekotto means Jan Vertonghen retains his left back role, with Kyle Walker manning the other flank. Walker is more likely than Vertonghen to get forward, meaning Clichy will have his hands full tonight. Youngster Steven Caulker and veteran William Gallas will man the centre of defence. Tom Huddleston and Sandro will take up midfield duties, with Aaron Lennon and Bale providing width to Dempsey and Defoe in the centre.
Probable Line-Up: Friedel; Walker, Caulker, Gallas, Vertonghen; Sandro, Huddlestone; Lennon, Dempsey, Bale; Defoe
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