Manchester City will face familiar opposition tonight when they take on Tottenham in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final. Indeed, Tottenham took the victory in the first leg, but 90 minutes at the Etihad is no walk in the park for anyone.
Pep Guardiola’s men will certainly be confident going into the game, with City’s home form the best in the Premier League. Both teams are known for their attacking full-backs and two players that also battle it out internationally will once again step onto the same field. Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker have competed for places at both Tottenham and England, but who is a better player?
Let’s have a look in this battle below.
Kyle Walker was instrumental in Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham revolution. Under his tenure, Walker became one of the most feared full-backs in European football. He and Danny Rose were known for their lung-bursting runs down the wing, in a defence which also became as solid as they come. However, Walker became frustrated with the lack of game time towards the end of his time at Tottenham, with Kieran Trippier taking over as the preferred choice.
Walker subsequently moved to City in a reported £47.3m deal (TransferMarkt). He has since maintained a regular starting role and has developed his defensive game immensely, though his attacking game has arguably subsided. City have conceded only 22 goals this season, a record only topped by Liverpool. Walker has been a key part of this defence. However, in a team that dominate possession as much as they do, a single goal and assist aren’t great returns for a full-back of his quality.
This won’t bother Walker, however. He left Tottenham in pursuit of trophies and has certainly achieved that. He will hope he can get the better of his former teammate and rival Kieran Trippier on Wednesday in a season-defining game.
TT Grade: A-
Tripper is a difficult one to evaluate, primarily as this season has represented such a stark contrast to both last season and the World Cup. Trippier made his transfer to Tottenham in 2015, subsequently appearing to be a way off the standard. However, a series of fine performances, aided by Pochettino’s rotation policy, saw the former Burnley man arguably overtake Walker in the pecking order in the final season at White Hart Lane.
After Walker’s departure to City, Trippier took centre stage at Tottenham, despite the signing of Serge Aurier. Tripper impressed throughout the season, particularly shining against Real Madrid in the Champions League. His fine form resulted in international recognition, which eventually saw Trippier become one of the key men for England in their World Cup run.
Trippier, however, has experienced a dramatic dip in form throughout the current campaign. Despite recording a goal and three assists, his defensive performances have not been up to scratch. A particular highlight was his own goal against Chelsea that abandoned any hopes of a comeback.
This is something the full-back admitted to Sky Sports. He said: “I could have done a lot better than what I have done, I am the first to admit that.”
He added: “I look at all the games I play in and review them. I have had chats with the manager and other players too, but it’s all about learning and trying to do as best as I can in every game. I always do my best.”
Trippier’s form has arguably seen him replaced as first choice for England, with Trent Alexander Arnold shining for Liverpool this season. He will, of course, aim to reclaim it, but it’s not been a good season for Trippier. Although overall his signing must be viewed as a success, particularly as he cost Tottenham just over £4m, so well done Daniel Levy.
TT Grade: B
Both players will be instrumental in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final. Trippier will have to be on top form to slow down the likes of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane. In Lucas Moura and Heung-min Son, Tottenham also have threats down the wings – Walker will also have to be aware.
Yes, Trippier was immense at the World Cup, but in reality, any team in the world would surely take Walker as their preferred full-back. Walker has to take victory here, but for the huge transfer fee – it’s close.
Tottenham and City fans – what do you think? With Walker costing over £40m more, who got the better deal? Comment below.
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