The champions make four changes to the team named for the 5-0 win at West Ham last Saturday. Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Nicolas Otamendi come in for John Stones, David Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus.
Christian Eriksen returns to the Spurs starting line-up after coming on as substitute to turn around the opening-day fixture against Aston Villa. Lucas Moura makes way, the only change to Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Domestic treble-winners Manchester City versus Champions League runners-up Tottenham Hotspur. It’s fair to say this is a big one. We might only be nine days into the new season, but as both teams have designs on the Premier League title, this qualifies as a proper six-pointer. Sniff if you like, but there it is.
City will be confident of making an early statement in their quest to join Huddersfield Town, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United as three-peat winners of the English top division. As if sticking five past West Ham at their own gaff wasn’t enough. They’re currently on a 15-game winning streak in the league, and are on a four-match winning run against this evening’s opponents. They’ve beaten Tottenham seven times in their last nine visits. And Spurs have a dismal record against the top clubs of late: just seven points against the other members of the self-styled Big Six last year.
On the flip side, that four-game winning streak of City’s is a league-only affair. It doesn’t include the Champions League quarter-final bedlam between the two sides last April, two matches that fair took the wind out of City’s continental sail, and briefly threatened to derail their Premier League campaign, as Pep’s men huffed and puffed to a one-goal win over the same opponents three days later. So Spurs are unlikely to feel too overawed, despite the overall picture.
But they’ll need to perform a lot better than they did during those Christian-Eriksen-free minutes against Aston Villa last weekend. Can they raise their game and give the champions a fright? Or will City keep on keepin’ on? We’ll find out soon enough. It’s on!