Tottenham Hotspur are set to face Manchester City at Wembley this evening in a fixture which will provide a true test of their title credentials.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side are on the brink of being eliminated from the Champions League but their prospects are looking markedly brighter on the domestic front.
Despite enduring a relatively cagey start to the season, Tottenham have managed to prevail in encounters when they may previously have fallen and they sit just 2 points behind the champions as a consequence.
If they are capable of taking 21 points from their opening 9 fixtures whilst seldom moving out of second gear, then who knows what they can achieve in full flow.
Ahead of the fixture it’s an appropriate time to assess the individuals who could make a decisive impact in the game, and two compelling attackers who joined the respective clubs this year, Riyad Mahrez and Lucas Moura, possess the flair to single-handedly change the game.
Let’s see how Tottenham’s only signing of 2018 and Man City’s record signing compare ahead of the eagerly anticipated fixture…
Mahrez shot to fame during Leicester City’s unprecedented Premier League title winning 2015/16 season with a series of breathtaking performances in attacking midfield.
Whether he was deployed on the right-wing or as a number ten, Mahrez injected a level of flair into Leicester’s attack which the King Power faithful couldn’t help but salivate over.
Following a highly documented transfer pursuit, City finally got hold of the Algeria international in the summer as they concluded a club-record deal worth £60 million.
The presence of a multitude of superstar talents has provided Mahrez with a new dynamic to face up to, and so far he has handled it relatively well without setting the world alight.
A dismal penalty miss against Liverpool should not cloud people’s judgement over the summer deal as he has demonstrated bursts of class which prove he will become a key player at the club.
Mahrez was an extortionate acquisition but he is blessed with the star quality to eventually justify his price-tag.
TT Grade: A-
If there were any lingering doubts over Lucas Moura’s ability to thrive in the top-flight, they have been firmly eradicated by his excellent start to life in English football.
Moura earned a deserved call-up to the Brazil national side recently after his rapidly soaring reputation culminated when he notched a brace at Old Trafford back in August.
With a devastating direct approach and the versatility to play in a handful of roles in attack, Moura already looks like an absolute steal at just £23 million.
The Tottenham supporters may have their reservations about Daniel Levy’s approach to the transfer market, but there is no doubt he is due lavish praise for pulling off this masterstroke deal.
TT Grade: A
Manchester City’s director of football, Txiki Begiristain, was investing his efforts into securing the signature of Alexis Sanchez in the January window, but whilst he was sleeping Levy moved to secure the services of a talent who has been markedly more effective than the Chile international.
With the diligent work-rate to recover possession for his side, the natural ability to slot into various positions and the star quality which represents something of a prerequisite for any player looking to move to the Etihad, Guardiola would have loved the opportunity to work with Moura.
At nearly a third of the price there is no doubt that Tottenham’s deal represents the better value of the two, and there is certainly a case to be made that Moura is the better of the two players on current form.
But underestimate Mahrez at your peril: he is not the type to go quiet for long and he could announce himself as a Man City player with a standout performance at Wembley tonight.
Tottenham and Man City fans – thoughts? Let us know below!