Jose Mourinho has been doing his best to win up Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola ahead of their meeting on Saturday.
The Tottenham boss suggested City might have influenced Raheem Sterling’s withdrawal from the England squad this week, and that he fully expects the forward to start against his side.
Sterling returned to training with Man City on FridayGETTY
Sterling missed all three of England’s games over the international break, while three of Tottenham’s players – Harry Kane, Harry Winks and Eric Dier – featured heavily for the Three Lions.
Mourinho’s comments sparked a response from Guardiola, adding extra spice to this already mouth-watering clash.
All eyes will be on whether Sterling does indeed start, although there could be key players returning on both sides.
Here is how we expect the teams to line up…
What will Mourinho be planning this weekend?AFP or licensors
How Tottenham should line-up
Spurs will be without Matt Doherty after the Republic of Ireland full-back tested positive for coronavirus on international duty.
Doherty was pictured hugging Tottenham teammate Gareth Bale after the clash with Wales, but thankfully the Welshman has tested negative.
Bale started for Spurs during the 1-0 victory over West Brom and continued his return to full fitness during the international break, so expect him to start.
Bale is officially ready to be firing on all cylindersGetty Images – Getty
Heung-min Son was forced to self-isolate while away with South Korea due to an outbreak of COVID among his teammates, although the forward did not catch it himself and remains available for Saturday.
Steven Bergwijn could be well be involved despite being sent home from Netherlands duty with an injury, while Erik Lamela and Tanguy Ndombele are both in contention after recovering from foot problems.
Harry Kane will look to continue his fine start to the season – the 27-year-old has already been directly involved in 23 goals in all competitions for Spurs and is fit and raring to go again.
Predicted Spurs XI: Lloris, Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon, Ndombele, Hojbjerg, Sissoko, Bale, Kane, Son
How Man City should line-up
Mourinho expects Sterling to start as so do we, with the City forward back in training on Friday.
City have also been given a major boost in the form of Sergio Aguero, who used the international break to continue his recovery from injury.
There will be no Nathan Ake, however.
Ake was injured last week while playing for Holland, joining Benjamin Mendy and Fernandinho in the treatment room, while Oleksandr Zinchenko was part of the Ukraine squad placed into quarantine by Swiss officials.
“Except for Nathan and Fernandinho, the rest have started to come back,” said Guardiola at his pre-match press conference on Friday,
“Fernandinho is not fit. He has a bit of gastroenteritis, something in his stomach. Sergio trained this week. Raheem trained for the first time today with the team.”
Could we see the return of this man at some point?Getty Images – Getty
While Aguero may not be deemed fully fight enough to start, Guardiola will be tempted to bring him on early, following Gabriel Jesus’ long journey back from South America this week.
Ferran Torres, meanwhile, will be full of confidence going into this having hit a hat-trick for Spain in their 6-0 demolition of Germany in the international break.
That may see Torres get the edge over Riyad Mahrez – who scored an outstanding goal for Algeria on Monday – on the wing.
Phil Foden scored twice for England in midweek, but may have to settle for a place on the bench, with Ilkay Gundogan likely to get the nod in central midfield alongside Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri.
Predicted Man City XI: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Sterling, Jesus, Torres.
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