Manchester City would take a giant step towards the Premier League title by beating Tottenham, whereas the Spurs can make a real statement by winning at Etihad.
Roberto Mancini’s side enjoyed a tremendous start to the season, but they, nonetheless, failed to create a significant advantage at the Premiership summit.
On the other hand, when the Citizens started struggling at the start of the new year, so did their title rivals, and they thus managed to keep the three-point advantage despite the poor run of results.
The narrow win over Wigan at the weekend not only helped keep their rivals at bay, but also served as a real confidence boost after two successive defeats.
Nonetheless, the Citizens appear to be far from the desired form at the moment, and I certainly wouldn’t be prepared to back them at odds of 1.91 (10/11) offered at William Hill.
Mario Balotelli and Micah Richards should return after missing the Wigan clash through injury, but Yaya and Kolo Toure are away on international duty and Vincent Kompany is suspended.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Hart – Richards, Savic, Lescott, Clichy – De Jong, Barry – Aguero, Silva, Milner – Balotelli.
Tottenham have been absolutely brilliant in the first part of the league campaign, but this is the game where Spurs need to show they are serious title contenders.
Harry Redknapp’s side have been coping well with the pressure of expectations in recent weeks, but they made a slip up at home against Wolves, their first under-par result after quite a while.
Spurs are unlikely to be downhearted by that result as they are still huge 10 points clear of their top 4 rivals and let’s not forget that Champions League qualification was their objective at the start to the season.
However, being just five points adrift of leaders Manchester City and having the opportunity to upset the order at the top of the standings, Tottenham will give their best to try and win at Etihad, and I see real value in odds of 4.40 (17/5) offered by BetVictor on away win.
The visitors will have to make do without Emmanuel Adebayor, who is ineligible to face his parent club, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing as Jermain Defoe has been in great form of late. Ledley King is a major doubt.
Probable starting line-up (4-4-1-1): Friedel – Walker, Dawson, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto – Lennon, Modric, Parker, Bale – Van der Vaart – Defoe.