Tottenham preview

How to call this one then?

The significance of victory surely cannot be underestimated, and the hyperbole eminating from the press this morning is testament to that. The transformation the club has undergone over the past two years has resulted in such progress (or 'upward trajectory' to use a Cook-ism) to put us on the cusp of the Champions League, progression that could transform the club way beyond what we have witnessed in recent times.

There really is so little between the two sides and whichever sides finishes the season in fourth, you have to say it is deserved over the course of the whole season. However, it now comes down to just a solitary game. Ninety minutes of football.

The gap is so small not just in terms of points and goal differential but also in terms of formation (with both likely to adopt a 4-4-2) and style of play (both adopting attacking wingers and likely to go for the win). Both have goals in them yet have not proved the most resolute defensively. Ourselves and Tottenham come in a decent run of form with a solid return of points over the last half a dozen games that have helped shake off the challenges of both Aston Villa and Liverpool.

A late fitness check on Gareth Barry signifies the only potential change, although his return would surely be in replacing Patrick Vieira, who, on the evidence of Saturday, could consider himself mightily unfortunate. The attacking 4-4-2 will continue having served Roberto Mancini so well in recent times.

Tottenham have a couple of fitness doubts over both Heurelho Gomes and Ledley King, although both have travelled with the party and both Aaron Lennon and Jermaine Defoe could well start.

Echoing this post from yesterday, Mancini feels that our experience could be the key:

“A lot of our players have experience of playing in big games like this, and that will be vital for us. They know that tonight is a big moment for them, the fans and everyone around the club, but I think they will have a positive approach to this game."

Tottenham's away form offers plenty of reason for hope. A poor record in their last ten away league games has seen them record just two wins, whilst their record in general against the top half of the league on their travels has been poor this season.

Home advantage therefore is most definitely in our favour.

Much has rightly been made of Tottenham's very good record over us in recent times. 11 wins from the past 12 victories is surely as good a record as there is in the Premier League and in trying to predict a result for tonight this above all is the one really troubling factor.

The weight of recent history is therefore on our opponents side.

But it is this weight of recent history that the club has been seeking to eradicate from its make up, and the club have really made strides of late, particularly over the course of this season. Time now to take a further step up.

Prediction? City 3 Tottenham 2.

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