Manchester City vs Tottenham
England Premier League
Date: Saturday, 21st January 2017
Kick-off at 15:00 UK/ 16:00 CET
Venue: Selhurst Park, London.
The challenge of the Premier League appears to be getting to Pep Guardiola, with his managerial career threatening to turn from Messi to simply messy.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss can be forgiven for any wistful glances back to the past last weekend as he watched his Man City side fall to the most chastening and humbling defeat of his managerial career at the hands of Everton at Goodison Park.
The clinical Toffees not only inflicted Guardiola's heaviest league defeat as a manager, but the final two goals - scored by youngsters Tom Davies and Ademola Lookman - drilled home the youthful optimism that seems to be lacking from City at the moment.
It is looking increasingly likely that a summer overhaul will be needed despite more than £150m already being spent since Guardiola's arrival, with six first-team players out of contract and more still struggling to come to terms with the philosophy the Spaniard is trying to impose.
Were it not for Guardiola's track record and reputation, it would not be too fanciful to suggest that he may not see a third transfer window as City manager following the Everton defeat, but at the very least he has earned himself the right to be given time to find a solution to the most testing period of his career.
Guardiola's fractious reaction to beating Burnley earlier this month hinted at the stress he is feeling, although it is important to keep things in context, and there are still plenty of clubs who would love to be in City's position at the moment.
Guardiola has officially declared his side out of the title race with a 10-point gap to Chelsea, but they are just three points off second place and would move level with Spurs if they can beat them this weekend.
The Citizens have also won their last three home matches and have only been beaten once in front of their own fans across all competitions since March of last year.
There are still definite areas of improvement needed at both ends of the field, though, with City scoring fewer goals than any other side in the top five and conceding more than any team in the top seven. Indeed, they have shipped four more goals than 16th-placed Middlesbrough this season.
Guardiola has never lost more than five league games in a season as a manager, and if he is to maintain that record this term then he will need to go through the rest of the campaign unbeaten, something which could also be the only way they are able to haul themselves back into the title race.
A match against an in-form Tottenham side is not the ideal game to come after that loss at Goodison, though, and anything other than a substantial improvement this weekend could see them end the gameweek sixth in the table.
While the mood for the hosts at the moment is one of disappointment and pessimism, Tottenham will be feeling entirely the opposite having thrust themselves into the position of Chelsea's chief challengers at the top of the Premier League table.
It is not an entirely new position for Spurs, who also ran Leicester City closest before a late-season collapse last term, but they are relative novices compared to the teams around them in the table when it comes to Premier League title races.
However, Mauricio Pochettino's side must be taken seriously this season and have proven with victories over both Man City and Chelsea that they are capable of beating any team on their day, with both of those wins coming against the most in-form team in the league at that time.
Indeed, Tottenham's triumph in the reverse fixture in October helped to spark City's dip in form after a perfect start for Guardiola, although Spurs also struggled to back up that victory and went on to win just one of their next 10 games in all competitions.
Spurs have since returned to form in style, though, winning their last seven matches across all competitions including six in the Premier League, most recently dropping points on their last visit to Manchester when United won 1-0 at Old Trafford on December 11.
You have to go back 50 years to May 1967 for the last time Tottenham won seven top-flight matches in a row, and an improvement on the road either side of the new year - with back-to-back 4-1 wins at Southampton and Watford - will make them hopeful of equalling that tally.
Prior to those two wins Spurs were winless in eight away games across all competitions and they still have the worst away record in the top six, with just 16 of their 45 points coming on the road.
A win on Saturday would make it three league away triumphs on the bounce for the first time since February, though, when incidentally their third victory came against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
The Premier League's stingiest defence is also bidding for a fourth consecutive clean sheet in all competitions - something which hasn't happened since September 2013 despite Spurs boasting such an impressive defensive record under Pochettino.
If they can keep the misfiring Mancunians at bay this weekend then it would arguably be the biggest proof of their title credentials yet and, with Chelsea not in action until Sunday, could see them close the gap at the top to just four points.
Manchester City vs Tottenham: Head to Head Statistics
Tottenham have been the better side in their last 3 meetings as they have won their last 3 games against Manchester City.
Spurs have also scored at least 2 goals in their last 3 games against Manchester City.
At Etihad Stadium, City have won 34 games over Spurs, they have drawn 14 and lost 18 to Spurs.
Manchester City vs Tottenham: Prediction
The game would be a tough and entertaining one with no clear favourites and could go either way.
Most games between this two sides have yielded a lot of goals and this won’t be an exception as we expect at least 3 goals in the game. Also we expect both teams to get on the score sheet and perhaps a hard fought win from the Spurs.
Manchester City vs Tottenham: Bet Tips
Both teams to score at 1.64 (20/31)Over 2.5 goals at 1.71 (5/7).