Aggressive showdown expected: Guardiola

City boss wary of Tottenham's similar high-pressing game and expects a tough clash today

LONDON • After a ding-dong 3-3 draw with Celtic in the Champions League, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola anticipates another breathless encounter in today's Premier League showdown with Tottenham Hotspur.

With six wins from six matches, City are the league leaders and early title favourites but Tottenham, four points back in second place, are enjoying their best start to a top-flight campaign since 1965.

Guardiola and his Spurs counterpart Mauricio Pochettino employ an aggressive, high-pressing style and the City manager thinks the fans at White Hart Lane could be in for a treat.

"What I like is teams who are active and you see that when they play, they want the ball," said the Spaniard, who could become the first manager to win his first seven Premier League matches.

"They want to keep it and they are so aggressive without the ball. I like to see that and Liverpool and Tottenham are both teams in that way."

Pochettino's managerial career has been closely entwined with Guardiola's, the two men having started life as top-level coaches in the same city and during the same season.

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What I like is teams who are active and you see that when they play, they want the ball...They want to keep it and they are so aggressive without the ball.

PEP GUARDIOLA, Man City manager, on the playing style of opponents Tottenham Hotspur.

In his first game as coach, former Argentina centre-back Pochettino saw his Espanyol team hold Guardiola's Barcelona to a 0-0 draw in a Spanish King's Cup tie in January 2009.

A month later, Espanyol sensationally won 2-1 at the Nou Camp to end a 27-year wait for a derby victory and give Pochettino his first win as a manager.

It was Barcelona's first league loss in six months and one of only three home defeats that Guardiola suffered in a maiden season that concluded with a league, King's Cup and Champions League treble.

Guardiola and Pochettino were effusive in their praise of each other in Friday's pre-game press conferences.

The Spaniard called Pochettino "one of the best football managers in the world", while the Argentinian branded Guardiola "the best manager in the world".

But underpinning the mutual affection is a keen awareness of the threat posed by the other and, with Spurs already four points behind City, Pochettino is desperate not to lose further ground.

"It's very early to start to speak about whether it's an important game to prove something," the Tottenham manager said.

"But we know three points is already important to reduce the gap. It's a very important game for us and them, but it's only a game."

Tottenham recorded a league double over City last season, cruising to a 4-1 home win in the equivalent fixture a year ago.

Pochettino hopes to have Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele and Danny Rose back after hamstring injuries, while Moussa Sissoko is expected to overcome a bang to the head suffered during the 2-1 win at Middlesbrough.

Striker Harry Kane, a scorer in last season's 4-1 win over City, remains sidelined by an ankle injury, with Vincent Janssen due to deputise again.

Guardiola reported no new injury problems.

Vincent Kompany, Kevin de Bruyne and Fabian Delph all have muscular injuries and are expected to return only following the international break next week.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 02, 2016, with the headline 'Aggressive showdown expected: Guardiola'. Print Edition | Subscribe