Man City looks to end bizarre losing run at Tottenham in marquee match in FA Cup
Thu, Jan 25, 2024
Soccer News (AP)
Pep Guardiola barely took a second to give his answer.
Last season was coming to a close, Manchester City had just clinched another English Premier League title, and the team would soon be winning the FA Cup and Champions League to complete the greatest campaign in the club's history.
So, Guardiola was asked, what would be his next challenge at City?
"Score a goal against Spurs away," the manager responded immediately, before putting his hands in a praying gesture.
In what might be the most puzzling head-to-head record in English soccer, City - the team that seems to sweep all before it - just cannot get a win at Tottenham. Or even draw.
Indeed, much to Guardiola's chagrin, they can't even score.
Since Tottenham moved into its state-of-the-art, $1 billion-plus stadium in 2019, City has played there five times - once in the Champions League and four times in the Premier League.
Tottenham has won 1-0, 2-0, 2-0, 1-0 and 1-0.
City and Guardiola get another chance to end that hoodoo on Friday when they travel to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to play the headline match in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Son Heung-min and Harry Kane have been the scourges of City in those recent games, typically scoring on the counter-attack after long periods of City dominating possession, but neither is around this time. Son is at the Asian Cup with South Korea and Kane moved to Bayern Munich in the offseason.
Yet, in Ange Postecoglou's first season in charge, Tottenham is showing it has the attacking weapons whoever plays up front. The club's last game was a 2-2 draw at Manchester United in the league, when Spurs were the better team and created many opportunities without Son.
Last month, City dominated Spurs in a league match at home but still couldn't shrug them off, squandering a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3.
Tottenham's line will be led by Brazil striker Richarlison, who has six goals in his last six league games, while playmaker James Maddison returned to training this week after 2 1/2 months out. The hosts still have plenty to concern City, despite the continued absence of Son.
Meanwhile, Guardiola's hopes for that elusive goal at Spurs haven't been helped by star striker Erling Haaland not being ready to return from a foot injury that has sidelined him since the first week in December.
Kevin De Bruyne is back, however, after his own long injury and may be in line for a first start in his comeback following a stunning cameo as a substitute in City's most recent game - a 3-2 win at Newcastle on Jan. 13 when the Belgium midfielder scored one goal and set up another in less than 30 minutes on the field.
City has failed to score in only three of its 32 games. Doing so again, for a sixth time in a row in away games against Tottenham, would be remarkable.
There's another all-Premier League matchup in the last 32 on Friday, when Aston Villa travels to Chelsea, and three more on Saturday: Everton vs. Luton, Sheffield United vs. Brighton and Fulham vs. Newcastle.
Manchester United plays away to fourth-tier Newport County on Sunday, when Liverpool hosts Norwich.
On Monday, Wrexham, the fourth-tier Welsh club owned by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, visits second-tier Blackburn.
Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80
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