Tough task awaits Spurs


Spurs’ new boss Mason got off to a great start, but can he thwart City? – AFP

THE fallout from the failed European Super League somewhat overshadowed the build-up to the English League Cup final between Manchester City and Tottenham.

Rest assured though, when these giants of the game clash at Wembley Stadium tomorrow, there will be nothing that will distract them from the task at hand.

City will start as huge favourites to secure Pep Guardiola a seventh trophy since taking over the Citizens in 2016. And if they were to win it, it would be the least this accomplished squad deserves.

Man City have by far, been the best football team in England this season, and Europe too, some say. As it stands, they remain on course for a treble that includes the English Premier League title and Champions League trophy.

They lead their second-placed neighbours Manchester United by 11 points in the league with five games to go and are through to the Champions League semi-finals. Man United have played a game less in the Premiership.

Despite starting as the underdogs at Wembley, Spurs will feel, and believe, they can upend Guardiola’s ambitions of a fourth League Cup. They beat City 2-0 in the league in November, before crashing 3-0 in the reverse fixture two months ago.

The Lilywhites were handed a massive boost in midweek when Ryan Mason chalked up a victory in his first game as interim manager. He took over on Monday following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho.

Spurs came from behind against Southampton when Gareth Bale and Son Heung-min set up the win. They managed this without the injured Harry Kane.

If Kane misses the season’s first cup final as well, it could prove a mighty blow for Spurs, who may then have to look to their midweek heroes for inspiration once again.

City were also in action in midweek and likewise won when they saw off Aston Villa on the road. Similarly, they too had to come from a goal down (in the first minute) before registering a triumph that moved them ever so close to a third league title in four seasons and a fifth in 10 years.

They had central defender John Stones sent off, who will now miss the final. But the resources available to Guardiola will mean Stones’ absence should not be felt.

Guardiola spoke glowingly of Phil Foden again after the English midfielder topped off a solid display with the winner against Villa.

Twenty-year old Foden could feature in the starting line-up, but it is Kevin De Bruyne one feels, who will get the most attention from Tottenham. The Belgian is City’s go-to-guy and perhaps, their classiest player out there. If De Bruyne is allowed enough space, he will make Spurs pay dearly.

The form book is often thrown out of the window when it comes to cup finals and tomorrow could well be one of those occasions, in which case the goalkeepers could emerge the stars of the day.

The final will go to a penalty shootout if it remains deadlocked at the end. But with City crestfallen after the defeat in the FA Cup semi-finals last weekend, it could be that they will be seeking to make amends and do so at the expense of Spurs.

It would be City’s fourth League Cup success in a row and a sixth in the last eight years. That will take some beating!

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