Man City

Manchester City must start with Sagna and Clichy against Tottenham
12th February 2016

Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy must start against energetic Spurs.

Manchester City face a crunch clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday following a devastating 3-1 loss at the hands of Leicester City.

City; without important figures such as captain Vincent Kompany and Kevin De Bruyne, were easily outdone by the Foxes – who completely and utterly destroyed City on the counter attack. The blistering pace and movement of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez & Co. proved too much for the home side to handle.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men must bounce back but the task of playing an in-form Tottenham Hotspur is an incredibly tough one.

Leicester have been rightly commended for their tremendous work-rate but Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs take it up another notch with their unmatched energy levels and intensity.

30th January 2015 - Emirates FA Cup 4th Round - Aston Villa v Manchester City - Bacary Sagna of Manchester City stretches to deny Scott Sinclair of Aston Villa - Photo: Paul Roberts / Offside.

Right-back Sagna has featured in 22 of Manchester City’s 25 Premier League games so far this campaign.

City are not a team blessed with energy at present; and with David Silva now joining the ever-growing injury list, it will be a difficult task for City to swat away their title rivals.

But there is a way that City can combat a highly-flying Spurs side, they really need a sense of mobility – particularly in the backline.

Against Leicester, Aleksandar Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta were horribly exposed and their defensive deficiencies were on display for all to see. On occasions, the two can be highly useful attacking outlets down the flanks, with overlapping runs.

But as a duo, they do not provide stability in a struggling City backline. Nicolas Otamendi and Martin Demichelis are at fault too, but they are the only fit centre-backs at the club at the time of writing.

So if anything, Pellegrini must rotate his full-backs for this high-profile fixture. There is of course the option to play Sagna in central defence as he did in the 4-0 FA Cup win over Aston Villa, but Pellegrini will likely persist with the two Argentines at the heart of the backline.

But there is no doubt that they should be joined by a pair of French full-backs. Sagna has been one of the club’s top performers this season, while Clichy is still comfortably a better all-round full-back than Kolarov despite injuries throughout this term.

Tottenham dismantled City in the second-half at White Hart Lane in the reverse fixture. Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane pulled City defenders all over the place and there is a real danger that we could see a repeat of that on Sunday. It would not be a pretty sight for City fans!

Clichy and Sagna can at least provide some degree of stability. As aforementioned, Kolarov and Zabaleta carry a bigger threat going forward but often leave too much space. Leicester punished City for that in their triumphant victory at the Etihad last weekend.

And Spurs are arguably even deadlier going forward. They seem to have gone under the radar slightly given the performances of Leicester lately, but they’re young, an aggressive side and are playing with great maturity.

Dele Alli has epitomised everything about Spurs this season and has been a real success story. Eriksen, Nacer Chadli and Lamela have all impressed too. The pace in which they break at is similar to that of Leicester and so Pellegrini must rectify his selection errors in the previous game.

The inclusion of Clichy and Sagna is integral to that. Pellegrini is a manager who thrives on delivering an attacking and entertaining brand of football and whilst that is admirable, it does leave City short too often. He may well be forced into opting for a more pragmatic style for this game purely because of the shortage of first-team players.

And you would expect a game plan of that kind to include the more defensive minded full-backs.

The upcoming fixture could make or break City’s season and against a strong, confident Spurs side, the services of Clichy and Sagna will be required.

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