The City specialist: Why Dejan Kulusevski could make the difference against Pep

Tottenham face off against Manchester City this Friday in a highly-anticipated fourth round of the FA Cup, and their Swedish winger could be the deciding factor.
Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Ever since they were knocked out of their first match in the Carabao Cup, Ange has seemingly readjusted his starting XI for domestic cup competitions, heeding the opinions of fans to play a more competitive set of starters. While their narrow 1-0 win over Burnley still had supporters holding their breath, it was more reassuring to see that both him and the players had nothing to hold back.

As Spurs host the reigning champions of the tournament this Friday, the media is gearing up for a spectacle as everyone awaits the exciting back-and-forth nature of a Spurs-City matchup. For anyone who's tuned in to the clubs' recent clashes, they know that there's been one person in particular standing - and scoring - at the forefront of these matches: Dejan Kulusevski.

It's been a little over a month since the two sides finished in a 3-3 draw, where the stinging disbelief for City fans and awe-inspiring moment for Spurs supporters came in the 90th minute as Kulusevski headed one over Ederson to tie the match.

It wasn't the first time the former Juventus winger had done it, however.

Flashback to the Etihad on February 19 of 2022, where the player scored in the fourth minute to secure his first goal in a Spurs shirt. Then, in the 95th he found Harry Kane on the end of a cross to seal a 3-2 victory. Kulu vs City has been nothing short of clutch, but it's not just against the English powerhouse where he's made the difference late into the match.

Just a few months ago, as Spurs watched their 1-1 clash with Sheffield United trickle into the 10th minute of stoppage time, the winger found his footing in the box to slot one past Wes Foderingham, capturing three points with style.

However, despite his previous successes, the role he plays this Friday could depend on the health of another player: James Maddison. With reports coming in that the midfielder has returned to training, there should be speculation as to whether or not Kulu could play in his usual role on the right-flank. With Giovani Lo Celso out on a hamstring injury, and Pape Sarr and Yves Bissouma still away on international duty, Maddison's continued absence could force Ange to play the Swede in a midfield role.

At the 10, Kulusevski has been phenomenal, proving he can still breeze past defenders with his skill on the ball while crawling into dangerous areas despite the receded position. City's Kevin De Bruyne, recently returned from injury, could make things troublesome though if Pep decides to start the midfield phenom.

It's hard to argue that a matchup between two of the best managers in the league will be anything less than thrilling, but who will walk away with their hopes of silverware at the final whistle remains a mystery; Perhaps it is one that only Tottenham's number 21 knows the answer to.