Saturday, 7:45 am
TV: ESPN2, ESPN3.com
Spurs and City are a fantastic pairing to open the season. The teams are fairly evenly matched and should both be competing for a top four spot well into the spring. I think just about everyone would be shocked to see either team finish outside of the top seven. Since finishing fourth and fifth last year after a dramatic second to last game of the season, Spurs and City have approached the offseason much differently. City saw it necessary to bring in multiple pricey reinforcements, while Spurs seem content to stick with the team that brought them to the top four. Rumors have swirled of Spurs adding Edinson Cavani, Ashley Young, Brede Hangeland, and Diego Forlan, but all of those rumors have remained exactly that, rumors. They did make one signing, Brazilian international midfielder Sandro, a talented young holding midfielder who should challenge Tom Huddlestone for playing time. City, on the other hand, have truly splashed the cash. David Silva, Yaya Toure, Alexander Kolarov, and Jerome Boateng were added to a side that was already among the most talented in the Premier League.
In the first game of the season, I expect both Roberto Mancini and Harry Redknapp to be afraid to lose significant ground to their rivals early, both psychologically and in the table. I fully expect to see Yaya Toure and Nigel De Jong both starting for City and Wilson Palacios and Tom Huddlestone to both start for Spurs. Two DMs vs. twp DMs in a tactically conservative match. These teams are both too talented to be blanked, though.
Okay, enough with reality. I like dealing in blind hope and wild speculation. In my wild dreams, I hope that Redknapp doesn't throw out two defensive midfielders. What I want to see is Palacios and Modric in the middle with Bale at left midfield and Ekotto at left back. I want Harry to try to take the game by the balls and beat the crap out of Manchester City. What is there to be afraid of against a team of players who haven't played a competitive fixture together and play two defensive midfielders?
Harry won't grab the game by the scruff of the neck, though. He'll do what we're used to. I expect a 1-1 draw.