Two in-form teams seeking to build on their strong starts to the new season will lock horns at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening, as reigning Premier League champions Manchester City play host to Tottenham Hotspur
Both sides have claimed 14 points from their opening six matches in the top flight, and victory for either team this weekend would see them momentarily move ahead of Arsenal at the summit.
There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and Erling Braut Haaland scoring goals. The Norwegian marksman continued his fine start to life at Man City with another two strikes in their comfortable 4-0 Champions League victory against Sevilla on Tuesday.
Phil Foden and Ruben Dias were also on the scoresheet in Southwestern Spain to ensure that Pep Guardiola’s side responded in style following last weekend’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Aston Villa – another game which saw Haaland find the net.
Since arriving from Borussia Dortmund over the summer, Haaland has now netted 12 times in just eight games across all competitions, including 10 strikes in six Premier League matches. The 22-year-old would remarkably end the campaign with 70 league goals if he was to play every minute with his current strike rate – Mohamed Salah’s all-time Premier League Golden Boot record of 32 goals in 38 games seems an achievable feat for City’s new No.9 this term.
Confidence is high among Guardiola’s camp and they head into Saturday’s contest having won each of their last seven Premier League home matches, scoring 30 goals and netting at least three times on each occasion.
However, their upcoming opponents have become somewhat of a bogey team for the Citizens in recent years, as they have lost four of their last five top-flight matches against Tottenham – City only lost three times in the league last season, but two were at the hands of Spurs.
With Liverpool and Chelsea failing to fire on all cylinders, and with a challenging fixture schedule on the horizon for Arsenal, Man City will be keen to build on their impressive start and lay down a marker to the rest of the league to show that they remain top dogs in English football.
Man City were one of two English teams to win their opening Champions League group game in midweek, with the other being Tottenham, who eventually saw off French outfit Marseille to secure a 2-0 victory in North London on Wednesday.
After former Newcastle United defender Chancel Mbemba was sent off for the visitors just two minutes after the break, Spurs eventually made the breakthrough in the final 15 minutes, with summer signing Richarlison scoring two quick-fire headers on his European debut before shedding a tear with his family at full time.
Antonio Conte’s side also came out on top in their most recent Premier League match, as they beat newly-promoted Fulham 2-1 on home soil, with Harry Kane equalling Thierry Henry’s London derby scoring record of 43 with a second-half strike.
Kane will have fond memories of visiting the Etihad last season; the England captain – who was heavily linked with a move to Man City last summer – scored twice including a dramatic 95th-minute winner in an enthralling 3-2 victory for Spurs in February.
Tottenham have enjoyed their best start to a Premier League season after six games since the 2016-17 campaign – when they finished in second place – winning four times and drawing the other two. Along with City, Spurs are the only other Premier League side who remain unbeaten so far this term.
Conte’s men will be up against a formidable opponent on Saturday, but his Spurs side have frustrated the champions before and will be confident of upsetting the apple cart once again at the Etihad.
Man City defenders Kyle Walker and John Stones are both suffering with minor muscle injuries and the pair are expected to miss out this weekend, while Aymeric Laporte remains sidelined after undergoing knee surgery over the summer.
Manuel Akanji – who made his City debut against Sevilla – is therefore set to retain his place at centre-back alongside Ruben Dias, with Joao Cancelo and Sergio Gomez to operate as full-backs.
Ilkay Gundogan could be recalled to start in centre-midfield with Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri, which would allow Bernardo Silva to move further forward and work his magic on the right side of an attacking front three.
Foden and Haaland are the most likely candidates to join the Portuguese playmaker in attack, while the likes of Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez may have to settle for a place on the bench.
As for Tottenham, their only injury concern is with attacker Lucas Moura, who could be in contention to return to the matchday squad after missing the last three games with an inflamed tendon.
After scoring a brace in midweek, Richarlison will be hoping to retain his place in attack with Harry Kane, which could therefore see Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski battling for the final position in the front three.
Conte is expected to make minimal changes to his first XI, with Ben Davies potentially replacing Clement Lenglet in the back three, while Ivan Perisic faces competition from Ryan Sessegnon to retain his spot at left wing-back.
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Cancelo, Akanji, Dias, Gomez; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Bernardo, Haaland, Foden
Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Romero, Dier, Davies; Emerson, Hojbjerg, Bentancur, Perisic; Richarlison, Kane, Son