Tottenham Hotspur-Manchester City Preview
LONDON (SE) - Roberto Mancini's Manchester City will be looking to prove a point when they welcome Tottenham Hotspur to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Despite being the only unbeaten team in the Premier League, Mancini's side have been subjected to some heavy criticism thanks to their failings in Europe this season. Tuesday night's 2-2 draw with Ajax and the subsequent on-field outburst of Mancini prompted yet more negative headlines, but assistant coach David Platt backed his Italian boss in Friday's pre-match press conference.
"Why wouldn't the manager of a football club be frustrated? Why wouldn't we all be frustrated," said Platt. "Players are frustrated, supporters are frustrated, staff are frustrated.
"Robbie (Roberto Mancini) has gone onto the pitch and spoken to the referee. As he comes back, he turns around and has a camera in front of his face for 30 yards. He turns around and says, in English, that basically it is enough now. People then want to start talking about what has happened and almost exaggerating the incident. I don't think he is the first manager to go onto the pitch. He wears his heart on his sleeve."
Sunday's visitors Tottenham picked up their first Europa League win of the season with a 3-1 victory over Maribor on Thursday evening, and summer signing Jan Vertonghen saw enough to suggest that his team will be able to challenge City.
"We were missing a lot of players but still we played good football, I think we did well," said Vertonghen. "The goal was a pity, the 1-1. But I think we never panicked and just kept playing our game, possession.
"City are struggling. They're not too confident. And we're strong in away games, so we want to win there, and we're capable of that. They are one of the best teams in the league, but with our pace we can hurt anybody. I think we're hopeful to get a good result."
Jermain Defoe scored a hat-trick in Thursday's Europa win and started alongside fit-again Emmanuel Adebayor for the first time this season. However, Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas was not giving anything away over whether he would continue with both in the starting line-up at the Etihad.
"We go four steps up in competition, it's a different scenario," said AVB. "It was a good performance, it was important for us to bounce back, to do it in such a good manner was fantastic. At the weekend we play the champions of England, a totally different proposition.
"It was good to see us in this system, with Adebayor coming short and linking play very, very well. We have been playing with two strikers, but one off the other one, and we are still a team that creates lots of opportunities with one off or with two up front. It was good to see the link up of Adebayor and Defoe, but we ended with one striker coming short all the time so it was exactly the same. I base my decision making on the performance in the game and in training. I have not made a decision at the moment but in the short time of preparation I will decide.
Manchester City have doubts over James Milner (hamstring), Joleon Lescott (back) and David Silva (hamstring), while Jack Rodwell (hamstring) and Micah Richards (knee) are out. Spurs remain without Moussa Dembele (thigh), Younes Kaboul (knee), Scott Parker (Achilles) and Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee), while Sandro (calf) and Jake Livermore (ankle) are doubtful.
City did the double over Spurs last season, winning 3-2 at the Etihad and 5-1 in north London. Manchester United were the only other team to beat Spurs twice in the league last season. City have won their last three meetings with Tottenham, but prior to that were without a win in five. Mancini's side are the only team yet to lose in the Premier League this season, and are unbeaten in 16 in the top-flight stretching back to April. City have won 27 of their last 29 home games and have not been beaten at the Etihad since December 2010 - a run of 45 games.