Grettings, B&B faithful. Tomorrow's match (7:45 am EST) sees us visit White Hart Lane and take on a good Spurs side. After a rocky start to the season, Mauricio Pochettino's men have put together a string of good results and will look to continue their good form against our Blues.
To get caught up on the current state of affairs at Tottenham, I spoke to Bryan from Spurs' excellent SB Nation blog, Cartilage Free Captain. Here's a link to the reverse Q&A I did with Bryan over at CFC.
- After a poor start to the season results-wise, Spurs have gotten 7 points from their last 3 matches and a win in the Europa League. Can you give us a brief summary of how the play on the field has evolved so far?
CFC: But for an own goal against United, Spurs would be unbeaten this season. I think the play has gradually gotten more and more cohesive and will only continue to look better as the new signings start to hit their form. In the grand scheme of things we've looked excellent defensively (odd for Spurs, right?), but incredibly feeble in attack. Some of that is due to Harry Kane misfiring early and some of that is just lack of Christian Eriksen. The latter is back from injury now, but Kane's lack of goals is still worrying--albeit not as worrying as the English press would have you believe.
- Year 2 now of Mauricio Pochettino. Are we starting to see his vision for the club come together?
CFC: Definitely. We're starting to get players that better fit the system and we're seeing a lot more pressing than we did last year. I think the major change is that the midfield looks more coherent. Sure, Spurs missed out on Morgan Schneiderlin and every other central midfielder we were linked with, but Eric Dier has emerged as a more than competent stand in as the deepest lying midfielder for Tottenham and his efforts shielding the backline have been at the heart of our new found defensive solidity.
- Most EPL fans probably don't know too much about Spurs' newest signing, Son. Tell us about him and how he fits into the team.
CFC: He's the best. Spurs were linked with Son when he left Hamburg for Leverkusen, but we just missed out. Now, we've finally got our man. At Leverkusen, Son played as an inside forward cutting in from the right wing, but he's also comfortable playing as a number ten or leading the line. He's fairly good sized at about 6', but his best asset is probably his pace. Son is very direct and when he has the ball at his feet, he's more than happy to take on defenders. Most importantly though, Son is an excellent finisher, so he's being counted on to pick up some of the scoring slack for Tottenham.
In terms of fit, Leverkusen, particularly last season, play a very high tempo pressing system, which meant that Son was already pretty familiar with the basics of Pochettino's style and the transition has been pretty easy. Son is a relentless runner and his energy in the press is exactly what Spurs need. When paired with Erik Lamela or Mousa Dembele on the opposite flank Spurs can run out a sort of ultra-pressing lineup that could wreak havoc on other teams.
- As always, playing against City means revisiting bad dreams in the form of Sergio Aguero for Spurs fans. Any special plans to try to stop him this time?
CFC: Hope he eats bad lasagna before the game, I guess. I'm not very confident in Spurs' ability to stop Aguero and I doubt we'll do anything specifically to counter him. I think we're simply just going to make sure that Eric Dier stays home and that Vertonghen and Alderweireld are in position to always have eyes on Aguero. Other than that, we'll just cross our fingers and hope for the best.
- What's the average Spurs fan's view of City as a club?
CFC: I think the view is mostly indifferent. I don't mean that to be rude, but City just aren't really a Club that Spurs fans devote a lot of thought to. At this stage, City is clearly better than Spurs and without any sort of fierce rivalry between the two or some real extended period of league dominance from City, there's just not a lot of ill feeling. Spurs fans probably dislike the other big London clubs and Manchester United and Liverpool a lot more than City.
All that said, I think there's an element of jealousy for some at Spurs, because we often like to gripe about our chairman not spending money. City are an oil money club and they spend like it, whether they buy intelligently, of course, is up for debate. Spurs would like to think that if we had stumped up a few million extra pounds guys like Aguero would be playing for us and we'd be in the Champions League and competing for titles instead of City. That's not how it shook out though and we maybe hate you a little for that.
- What XI do you expect Pochettino to put out on Satuday, and would you change any of it personally?
CFC: Lloris; Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Alli; Lamela, Eriksen, Son; Kane. I think that's probably our best lineup given that players that are available. I think the real questions is whether Pochettino opts for Chadli over Eriksen, which depends mostly on the Dane's fitness level. Given the amount of pressure City are likely to put Spurs under, I like this lineup better than just about anything else Spurs could put out.
- Prediction for the match? Where do you see the key battles being played out on the pitch?
CFC: I suppose the key battles are Aguero vs. All of the Tottenham Defense and Kane vs. Perceptions that he sucks now. Because this is Tottenham, I'm sure that we're bound to come of on the losing end of both of those battles and City will run rampant. 3-1 City, Aguero with a brace.
Many thanks to Bryan for his time! You can follow him on twitter @BryanTHFC.