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Tottenham v Manchester City Villas-Boas Aiming To Avenge Earlier Loss

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As Tottenham take on Manchester City at White Hart Lane in the first of their six ‘Cup Finals’ to the end of the season, their manager Andre Villas-Boas will be looking for a reversal of the result at The Etihad earlier in the season. In that match Tottenham had taken a first half lead only for City to recover with two goals in the final 25 minutes.

Andre Villas-Boas [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]Andre Villas-Boas’ first full season as a manager in English football, sees Spurs currently in 5th place. With two matches in hand over Arsenal who are five points ahead, they still have control of their own destiny but need to win against Manchester City  to keep their hopes of a Champions League finish on track. City are  looking for victory, hoping that the title race with United isn’t over. City showed in their win at Old Trafford and in last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final over Chelsea that they are fully focused and returning to the form which made them such formidable opponents last season. In those games they demonstrated a power and strength in midfield with a creative touch. Then when put under pressure in the second half at Wembley, they showed a resilience to see out the match and secure another Cup Final appearance.

The Tottenham manager is regarded as one of the top young coaches in Europe and when playing City, in Roberto Mancini, he will be up against one of the most experienced and successful. Throughout the season, Villas-Boas has had his team well prepared to meet the challenges of the opposition but occasionally, he has been faced with a situation where the opposing manager has out-thought him or presented him with a situation to which he didn’t react quickly enough.

One such occasion was against City in November. Tottenham had started well, taken the lead through Steven Caulker and with Emmanuel Adebayor making his first Premier League start of the season against his former team, he caused them considerable problems. David Hytner reported Adebayor’s comments in The Observer, earlier in the week,

"“….put Man City under pressure and then for sure, we have a chance to win because I was there and whenever things are not going their way, there will definitely be a fight or an argument on the pitch….”"

Emmanuel Adebayor and Gareth Bale – will they start against City? [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]Adebayor’s play at the Etihad Stadium in November clearly backs up his suggestion as City found it very difficult to handle their former team-mate which caused friction within the team. Although Spurs had been in the ascendency in the first half, City sorted it out at the interval and with Tottenham and Adebayor unable to maintain their hold on the game, City took control after Mancini made a change in tactics with about thirty minutes remaining. He went to three at the back and introduced Maicon  on the right side of midfield. Tottenham supporters had happy memories of their previous encounters with the Brazilian, but this time his introduction altered the course of the game with Jan Vertonghen unable to cope with the additional threat on his side of the pitch. Villas-Boas didn’t make any changes to counter the obvious threat posed and eventually through persistent pressure, Tottenham succumbed to the late goal.

Villas-Boas who is regarded as a great thinker within the game will want to avoid any similar situation this time with his team needing all three points.

Return of Injured Trio

Spurs fans are anxious to see the return of Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale from injury. The absence of all three has greatly stretched the resources available to Villas-Boas so it must be a big temptation to rush the players back into the team. The manager was confident after the home match with FC Basel that the injured players would be available for the City game and with all three reportedly in the squad, so it has proved.

It would, however, be a huge gamble to introduce all three into the team immediately as any recurrence of their problems could put them out for the rest of the season. Lennon and Bale usually take time to get back to their best after injury, tending to feel their way back to into their game. Villas-Boas will therefore need to use caution in his selection to ensure that the players are fit enough to give of their best without causing any repercussions concerning their future fitness. A place on the bench may well be the option for Defoe with possibly either Bale or Lennon, depending on fitness levels, in the starting line-up, and the other included with the substitutes.

A tweet from OptaJoe stats during the week, indicated how times have changed in the Spurs/City clash.

Tottenham will want to avoid a repeat of last season’s heavy defeat at the hands of City and with this as their last home match against the clubs currently in the top six this year, they will be looking to improve on their record of one win from the four games played.

A ‘must win game’, a ‘Cup Final’, whatever you want to call it, Tottenham need three points or they will again lose control of their season and be left reliant on others slipping up and this season that simply isn’t happening in the way it did last year.