Tottenham Hotspur-Manchester City Preview
The chase for the Premier League title may essentially be over, but Manchester City's chase of historical accolades has just begun.
Now the owners of the longest win streak in English football history, Pep Guardiola's Citizens look to make it 16 on the bounce Saturday when they host Tottenham Hotspur.
Manchester City (16-1-0) effectively ended the title race with their 2-1 win over eternal rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday and enter this contest with an 11-point lead over their neighbours. The Sky Blues then separated themselves from United, Preston North End, Arsenal and Bristol City in the annals of football with a comprehensive 4-0 road thrashing of Swansea City on Wednesday for their historic 15th consecutive league victory.
David Silva scored on either side of halftime while Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero added goals to complete a glossy scoreline fitting of their imperious play as City also set a record for the best 17-match start to a season previously held by the 1960-61 Tottenham Hotspur side.
"Of course, it is special when you win so many games," Silva told City's official website. "After the derby, to play in that way three days later was so difficult. We did well. We didn't talk about the record before the game to be honest. We go game by game to win and you saw that.
On Saturday, we play Tottenham and we have to be focused. They are a very good side so we will see."
Silva, whom City supporters have nicknamed "Merlin," embodies everything that Guardiola wants about his team - to attack with verve and style, be relentless and continually win the ball. His actions with and without the ball - Silva has five goals and has already exceeded his assist total from last season with 10 - is part of a seamless series of intricate movements that bewilder opponents and bedazzle fans of both City and football.
"He is a real leader in terms of never hiding on the pitch and I am so, so happy because I spoke with him many times and said, 'You have to score goals,'" Guardiola told The Times regarding Silva. "You have to score goals to win games because he has absolutely everything but sometimes he was thinking more about the pass and now, in the last games, against West Ham, it was a winning goal and again at Old Trafford.
"He is a star but now he is enjoying scoring goals."
City have racked up 49 goals during their winning streak while conceding just 10. Now, they look to extend their run in league play at the Etihad to eight matches since their 1-1 draw Aug. 21 versus Everton, in which they finished with 10 men that stands as the only game they have dropped points. Manchester City carry a 27-match home unbeaten streak (20-7-0) into this contest since a 3-1 loss to Chelsea on Dec. 3, 2016.
Tottenham (9-4-4) are 18 points adrift of City, ahead of Liverpool and Burnley on goal difference for fourth, but City's rampage through England left the London outfit more excited to play Champions League football than try and pursue the Sky Blues.
A six-match spell in which they totaled just five points will be lamented as why they are not in position to potentially pip Manchester City, but Spurs have righted themselves in league play following back-to-back wins at Wembley. They followed up a clinical rout of Stoke City with a 2-0 win over promoted Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday, as Serge Aurier's cross-turned goal opened the scoring shortly before halftime and Heung-Min Son's fourth goal in as many games near the death secured the three points.
"It was tough, very tough," Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino told the club's official website. "I'm happy in the end to win and three points is so important for us. I'm so pleased with the effort and the performance. The team was very good. I'm happy with the performance and it's good to be back in the top four. Now it's important to try to keep this position but the season is so long and we need to go step by step."
For all the talk of Harry Kane and Dele Alli, and rightly so as the England internationals have 25 club goals between them, Son is second on Spurs with eight goals in all competitions and has bagged five of them over the last seven matches. The attacking midfielder was an instrumental figure in helping South Korea qualify for the World Cup next year with seven goals in 12 matches and has found a place in London where he can maintain his purple patch.
"I'm just trying to keep my condition and to play," Son explained. "I'm really happy and in the morning when I go to the training ground or come to Wembley or go somewhere else with my teammates, I'm just enjoying every second. I want to keep my form for my teammates as well.
"Sometimes I can play badly but I want to try and help. Sometimes I can't score but I always run for my teammates. I just want to make it easier for them."
Son grabbed a late equaliser in last season's corresponding fixture, a 2-2 draw, in which Spurs fought back from two down to snatch a point. Leroy Sane and De Bruyne scored early in the second half, but Alli's goal on 58 minutes sparked Tottenham, who are 3-1-0 in the last four matches between the clubs.
City are 5-1-1 in their last seven versus Spurs at home, but the London side have fared well on the blue side of Manchester with 10 wins and three draws in 20 Premier League contests.
Updated December 14, 2017