City prepare to take on Tottenham tomorrow in another top four clash at Eastlands. With Leicester and Arsenal meeting earlier in the day at The Emirates, this weekend will have massive implications on the title race. To clear up the clutter I sat down with Bryan from Spurs' excellent SB Nation blog Cartilage Free Captain for a better read on everything-Spurs. I did a reverse Q&A with him as well, which you can find here.
- Give us a quick summary of Spurs' season so far.
CFC: We're in second in the league and still alive in the FA Cup and Europa League. What a time to be alive.
- Spurs have arguably been the best side in the league this season, points aside. How do you explain the improvement from last season?
CFC: Harry Kane and many around Spurs would have you believe that it's because there's less bad eggs in the squad this year. Maybe that helps, but I think it's more that everyone that is in the squad has bought into Pochettino's system. Of course a solidified midfield and central defensive partnership haven't hurt things either.
- What are your thoughts on the title race this year?
CFC: It would just figure that the one year Spurs are absolutely amazing, that we have to compete for the title with the feel good story of the century. Lots of people in the media are still treating Leicester's title bid with skepticism, even after they beat you lot last weekend. I'm not. If Leicester were Chelsea or United we would be calling this title race done and dusted. Suggesting that the Foxes will screw this up just goes against the weight of all the evidence at this point. As far as Spurs chances go, they're the second most consistent team in the league, but our remaining schedule is tough. If Leicester slip up, Spurs are in the best position to capitalize.
- Pochettino has rightfully been heaped with praise recently. How worried are you about losing him to one of the big spenders in the summer?
CFC: Honestly, not even a little. Maybe I'm buying into the narrative too much, but Poche doesn't seem like a guy that's gonna bail on Spurs to manage Manchester United or Chelsea or some other big club like that. Poche needs his whole squad to buy in for his system to work and I just can't see him getting that one of the big spenders. I'm not convinced that he'll be our Fergie or Wenger, but I don't think Poche is done with his Tottenham project yet.
- As long as I can remember in recent seasons, the CM and CB positions have had a lot of turnover at White Hart Lane. Do you think the current crop of players in those spots are here to stay and can bring further success?
CFC: Yeah, it's funny how our best seasons in recent memory seem to correspond with when our central midfield and central defense have been most solid. The season we qualified for the Champions League it was Tom Huddlestone and Wilson Palacios in midfield with Michael Dawson and Sebastien Bassong behind them and then....well, then after that there really hasn't been that much consistency.
This season the midfield pairing of Dier and Dembele has been exactly what Pochettino needed all last year and not enough can be said about how amazing Vertonghen and Alderweireld have been at the back. Even Kevin Wimmer, who has been deputizing for the injured Vertonghen of late has been excellent. There's no reason to think that this group can't stick around for a while. If anyone is going to leave for a big money transfer, it's going to be Vertonghen (he's long been linked with a move to Barcelona), but everyone else seems likely to stay put at least for the foreseeable future.
- What lineup do you expect Poch to put out on Sunday, and where do you see the key battles being played out on the pitch?
CFC: I expect the usual from Pochettino. He won't spring any surprises. It'll be a 4-2-3-1 with Lloris in goal. Dele Alli will likely come back into the starting lineup after sitting out most of the last match after some dizzy spells. He'll probably be prefered to Nacer Chadli. Our first choice fullbacks, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose (I guess) will also be back in the team. Everything else should be pretty much the same as what Spurs used in their last match out.
- Finally, a prediction for the match?
CFC: I have no idea. On the one hand, City seem to struggle with teams that put them under pressure, but this is still Tottenham. I'm gonna hedge my bets and go for a 1-1 draw.