Premier League English

Man City eager to end mind-boggling losing run at Tottenham in marquee match in FA Cup

Last season, after Manchester City had just clinched another English Premier League title, a question was directed at Pep Guardiola, the man who would be responsible to his team soon also winning the FA Cup and Champions League to complete the greatest campaign in the club’s history.

The question, plain and direct, was – what would be the celebrated Spaniard’s next challenge at City?

Unflinching and without batting an eyelid, Guardiola’s reply was prompt, in fact almost instantaneous – “Score a goal against Spurs away.” He then placed his hands together in a praying gesture in a sincere, non-mocking manner.

Absurd and most bewildering as the head-to-head record in English soccer is concerned involving these two clubs, City – who’ve never seemed to encounter any difficulties facing any team on the pitch – just cannot find a way to secure a win at Tottenham. Not even a draw!

In fact, adding insult to injury as far Guardiola is concerned – they had not even been able to score even a solitary goal in the last five times City played in Spurs’ state-of-the-art, $1 billion-plus stadium, after having played there once in the Champions League and four times in the Premier League.

‘Ouch!’ indeed, with Tottenham having emerged victors with scores of 1-0, 2-0, 2-0, 1-0 and 1-0. Unbelievable but true.

Well, City and Guardiola will now have another chance to break that jinx on Friday when they travel again to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to play the headline match in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

City’s task should be much easier this time, at least on paper, as ace goalscorers Son Heung-min and Harry Kane – who have both been the scourges of City in those aforementioned games – are both not around this time, as Son is away on national duty at the Asian Cup with South Korea and Kane is already part and parcel of Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.

It was only last month that City – despite dominating Spurs in a league match at home – ended up squandering a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3.

Guardiola’s hopes for that elusive goal at Spurs could also be drastically dampened as star striker Erling Haaland is still not ready to return from a foot injury that has sidelined him since the first week in December.

However the comforting news is that talisman Kevin De Bruyne is back in action and sizzling, judging from his latest exploits on the pitch as a substitute in City’s most recent game – a 3-2 win at Newcastle on Jan. 13. The Belgian wizard could well be in line for a first start in his comeback following his stunning appearance in that enthralling match where he scored one goal and set up another in less than 30 minutes on the field.

City has only failed to score in only three of its 32 games. Failure to do so again, for a sixth time in a row in away games against Tottenham, would indeed be totally incomprehensible.