Finally, the Premier League’s back and our first challenge takes the form of Tottenham Hotspur. Here we go…
‘I’m excited, it’s going to be a big year for us. “I only had everyone for two days before Valencia, and David and Carlos only started their pre-season a week before, which is not great for us. I would have liked another two weeks training with them. That`s also why I wanted to build up the squad so we have plenty to choose from in each position.
“I hope we can start well on Saturday. It’s a big game to start with, so if we work well with the right attitude we can get a good result. Revenge? No, not revenge but we have to start the Premier League as well as we can. We must have the right mentality, and I want us to play the same way, home or away.’
‘It doesn’t matter who we play, we need to win. The main thing is to win the first game because that will be a great start for us. Last season we started so well with four wins out of four and we’ll try t o do the same this time around.’
‘The two teams who were fighting it out for fourth spot at the end of last season are facing each other on the first day of this season. A lot of people will probably be looking to write one of us off depending on this result! We’re aware of the threat they possess and we’re expecting a very tough game. They’ve got big aspirations for this season and will want to get off to a good start, as will we. We’re at home, which is a big bonus for us considering the support we have, and if we can get off to a winning start then it really sets us up.’
Tottenham Hotspur Team News:
Gareth Bale is set to start for Spurs after recovering from a bruised leg that ruled him out of Wales` friendly with Luxembourg in mid-week. Roman Pavlyuchenko is set to miss out with a hamstring strain whilst Jonathan Woodgate is still some way off returning to match fitness.
As we know, Ledley King cannot play twice in a week but I predict ‘Arry will select the influential centre-back for the opening day curtain-raiser instead opting with Bassong or Kaboul for Spurs` mid-week match with BSC Young Boys. I expect Lennon to start on the right with Huddlestone partnering Modric in the middle and Kranjcar out on the left. Finally, there are doubts about Jermain Defoe`s fitness but I expect him to start alongside Robbie Keane in attack. Therefore here`s the team I expect ‘Arry to name:
Possible Spurs Starting XI:
Corluka – Dawson – King – Bale
Lennon – Huddlestone – Modric – Krancjar
Defoe – Keane
Player to watch: Luka Modric
He`s so close to being the complete midfielder; if he popped up with a few more goals now and again Modric would be the full package. He plays the game with such an ease and has the skill to change a game in a split-second with an exquisite piece of skill or a brilliant pass. Modric has great vision and likes to take the ball himself from defence to attack. ‘Arry should build his side around Modric, he is a top player and the likes of Nigel de Jong and Yaya Toure need to do their best to reduce his involvement in Saturday`s game.
Manchester City Team News:
Roberto Mancini has only one injury worry to consider for tomorrow`s game with Spurs; Jerome Boateng has a slight niggle which will mean that he will have to wait for his full debut. Other than that, Roberto has a full squad to pick from and he could even manage to name Mario Balotelli on the bench if he completes his move to MCFC today. Roberto has made it clear Craig Bellamy has no place at Manchester City and will not be in the 25 man squad whilst Stephen Ireland has been training with the Reserve squad today.
He is poised to give debuts to Aleksandar Kolarov, David Silva and Yaya Toure. However, the big question is who Mancini will name as his number one. The fact that Hart has started most pre-season games suggests Mancini prefers the Shrewsbury lad over Shay Given but there have mutterings from journalists across the land that Shay is set to be named in goal. It really is anybody`s guess. Therefore, here is my guess to what team Mancini will name:
Possible City Starting XI:
*[Admittedly it will look more like a 4-1-2-1-2]
2) Richards – 28) K Toure (c) – 33) Kompany – 13) Kolarov
34) de Jong – 42) Y Toure – 18) Barry
32) Tevez – 9 Adebayor – 21) Silva
Player to watch: Yaya Toure
The ‘better brother` has everything it takes to be a overwhelming success in the Premier League. If City can keep the Ivorian powerhouse fit for the remainder of the season then I predict that he will be one of our players of the season. Many view Yaya Toure as a defensive midfielder but he is so much more than that. Who wouldn`t be forced to play defensively when you have the likes of Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Ibrahimovic in front of you? Toure is a box-to-box midfielder who picks a great pass and actually has a fantastic long range shot which you will have seen if you have watched City`s pre-season matches.
Match Facts & Stats
Head To Head City v Spurs:
League: City Wins: 45, Draws:30, Spurs Wins:47
All Competitions: City Wins: 50, Draws:33, Spurs Wins:56
Man City have lost to Tottenham more times than they have to any other club since the Premier League’s inception (19).
Eight of the last 11 Premier League matches between the sides have ended 2-1.
Tottenham have managed to win just two of their last nine matches on the opening day of the season, but they did kick off the last campaign with a 2-1 victory over Liverpool.
Manchester City’s former Arsenal players, Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Adebayor, have excellent scoring records against Tottenham. Vieira has found the net on four of his last five visits to White Hart Lane and Adebayor has scored six goals in his last eight league matches against Tottenham.
Roberto Mancini’s side were the only team not to lose a game after scoring first in the Premier League last season.
Referee: Andre Marriner
Marriner`s 09/10 Season Record:
115 yellow cards, 10 red cards, Average 3.1 bookings per game
Assistant referees: Phil Sharp & Andy Newbold
Fourth official: Peter Walton
This time last season, we hit the road well and truly running, we started perfectly; Emmanuel Adebayor scoring after only 3 minutes against a shocked Blackburn side. Admittedly this game will be much harder but I expect the lads to be well up for it and I`m confident we can come out of this encounter with three points. I predict we`ll start the season well, just not as strongly as last season. However, I expect us to maintain our form throughout the season, going about losing the ‘Typical City` tag with more consistent performances. This will be a tough game but we need to attack Tottenham and not just play on the break. In David Silva we now have a player who can unlock doors and sneak passes into tight spaces. Silva also has the uncanny knack of popping up with important goals but I expect tomorrow`s main winner to be Yaya Toure who will completely boss the game in midfield with his physical presence and athleticism. I`ve been looking forward to this day all summer and we`re finally here. This will be the season. Prediction: Spurs 1-2 City
Away: FC Timisoara, Europa League, 19th August, 19.45 GMT
Home: Liverpool, Premier League, 23rd August, 20.00 GMT