PREVIEW: City v Tottenham

brucewise

The big news straightaway is that while Jake Livermore can’t play for City tomorrow, he also won’t be playing for Tottenham. National newspaper speculation on transfer deadline day has, not for the first time, proved to be utterly false.

The prospect of seeing Livermore line up for his parent club this weekend would have been tough to bear, especially as City are in a rotten run of Premier League form and wouldn’t care to be denied one of the more influential players in a struggling squad.

Tottenham, though improved under Tim Sherwood’s quintessential Englishness in his coaching methods, come to the KC utterly stung, and this will make them dangerous. They were throttled 5-1 at home by Manchester City in midweek and will want someone on whom to take out their irritation. Up steps City, with one win in ten and five straight defeats in the Premier League, to provide the target.

That’s the theory, anyway, one which will be shared by presumptive types in the national press. But City’s run of disappointing form needs to end somewhere. More than that, it needs to end soon. Tottenham represent a tough test but they’re not impenetrable and City have only succumbed to Spurs this season through one badly awarded penalty and one badly taken penalty.

Livermore’s absence presents an opportunity for Steve Bruce to alter the formation and perhaps utilise a flat back four, or maintain the 3-5-2 set-up and bring in Robert Koren or Stephen Quinn. Robbie Brady is also ready again – he missed the loss at Palace in midweek because he was attending the birth of his first child – and new strikeforce Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long will each make their home debuts. The other definite change involves the goalkeeper, with Allan McGregor’s three match ban allowing a chance for Steve Harper.

Jan Vertonghen and Paulinho are fit to return for Spurs after injury and full back Danny Rose is available after his midweek red card against Manchester City was overturned on appeal.

City have never beaten Spurs at the Circle – defeats in 2008/9 and 2009/10 remain memorable because of Jonathan Woodgate’s late winner in the first and Jermain Defoe’s phenomenal hat-trick in the second – and the last home win against Tottenham came in the autumn of 1977.

The bookies have City at 11/4 to win this, with Spurs at 11/10 and the draw priced at 23/10. With the bottom half of the table tight as a noose, it’s time City reminded everyone – including themselves – just how impressive they can be.