Tottenham - Manchester City Preview: Mancini's men could surrender title with loss to Champions League-chasing Spurs
If Manchester United beat Aston Villa on Monday then a defeat at White Hart Lane will have seen the current champions' reign end, but the hosts face a tough task with Bale a doubt
By John Stammers
Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto
Lennon, Sigurdsson, Bale
Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy
Milner, Tevez, Silva
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas confirmed on Friday that Gareth Bale (ankle) is fit to face Manchester City on Sunday, with Aaron Lennon (knee) "progressing well" and Jermain Defoe (muscle problem) hopeful of inclusion.
Clint Dempsey, Lewis Holtby and Gylfi Sigurdsson are ready to come in for Spurs should they be needed, while former Manchester City forward Emmanuel Adebayor is likely to start.
In defence, Villas-Boas will be without Younes Kaboul (thigh) after he was forced off midway through an Under-21 outing while nearing a first-team return, while William Gallas (calf) is struggling, leaving Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen as the probable centre-back partnership.
City, unlike their opponents who will be fresh after a 10-day break, played against Wigan on Wednesday and Chelsea the Sunday before and may make a number of changes for the tie.
Sergio Aguero (hamstring) is almost certainly out of the game, while Maicon (virus) is also struggling, but David Silva (hamstring) should return to the squad for the trip to White Hart Lane.
Elsewhere, Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy and Matija Nastasic are expected to return after being rested for the win over the Latics, with Micah Richards, Aleksandar Kolarov and Joleon Lescott set to make way.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Tottenham have failed to win a game this calendar year in which Bale has not scored in.
- The north Londoners have lost their last four clashes with Sunday's opponents - but were defeated in just three of the previous 27.
- Villas-Boas' men have netted at least two goals in six of their last seven matches, while there has been a total of 14 goals in the past four meetings between the sides.
- Adebayor (pictured right) made the permanent move to White Hart Lane from Manchester City in the summer, after previously playing for north London neighbours Arsenal.
- City will surrender their Premier League title if they lose to Spurs and Manchester United beat Aston Villa on Monday.
- However, Roberto Mancini's side are undefeated in 34 out of their last 38 games, while they won 5-1 on their last visit to White Hart Lane.
- Mancini has used all three substitutions more than any manager, doing so in all but one league game this season - the 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge - and his team hold the second-highest percentage of goals from replacements (after Reading).
- Edin Dzeko netted a late winner in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, with the reigning champions coming back from a goal down to win.
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Top 3 Predictions
Tottenham 2-1 Manchester City FC
- 19.09 %
Tottenham 1-2 Manchester City FC
- 16.89 %
Tottenham 1-3 Manchester City FC
- 10.57 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Jan 29, 2014||Tottenham 1 - Manchester City FC 5|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Nov 24, 2013||Manchester City FC 6 - Tottenham 0|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Apr 21, 2013||Tottenham 3 - Manchester City FC 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Nov 11, 2012||Manchester City FC 2 - Tottenham 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Jan 22, 2012||Manchester City FC 3 - Tottenham 2|
|Apr 12, 2014||West Bromwich Albion 3 - Tottenham 3||EPL|
|Apr 7, 2014||Tottenham 5 - Sunderland 1||EPL|
|Mar 30, 2014||Liverpool 4 - Tottenham 0||EPL|
|Mar 23, 2014||Tottenham 3 - Southampton 2||EPL|
|Mar 20, 2014||Benfica 2 - Tottenham 2||EL|
The Togo international hasn't been the prolific striker this season that Spurs have so long been crying out for, but on his day he can be unplayable. Up against his former employers and with a point to prove on Sunday after being frozen out at the Etihad, the 29-year-old has the perfect opportunity to shine. There is a big possibility the hosts will be without Bale so goals will need to be found elsewhere.
The Argentine full-back has arguably been City's best and most consistent performer this term, and Mancini is likely to call on him once more after resting him against Wigan. Whether Bale recovers in time for Sunday will have a huge bearing on the defender's duties - if he does, the 28-year-old's solid defensive attributes will be needed to halt the Welshman, and if he doesn't there will be more scope for the tireless worker to offer another attacking option on his flank, both of which he does brilliantly.
Though the title is almost certainly heading to the red side of Manchester, City will be desperate to make United wait as long as they possibly can before parting with their crown. Spurs, however, will be fresher after a prolonged break and desperate to pick up points in order to secure a top-four spot. So much depends on Bale's fitness, but the home side could have enough for a draw even without him fully fit.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed