Friday, January 26, sees two Premier League heavyweights clash in the FA Cup fourth round when Tottenham Hotspur welcome the current cup holders, Manchester City. Here’s how the game might develop with stars on both teams expected to return from injury.

Tottenham Hotspurs vs Manchester City FA Cup Fourth Round Tactical Preview

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Kevin de Bruyne and James Maddison are Likely to Start

Both teams will welcome back their creators-in chief on Friday, with Kevin De Bruyne expected to start his first game since the opening weekend of the season and the opposition expecting James Maddison to return since his injury against Chelsea. The Belgian playmaker isn’t the only returnee for the Citizens, as this mouth-watering clash can see the returns of goalkeeper Ederson and defender John Stones.

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Spurs, meanwhile, also welcome back Ben Davies and Dane Scarlett, both of whom are expected to feature on the bench. Its also worth noting that both teams will be without their top scorers for this game as Erling Haaland is still recovering from injury and Tottenham skipper, Heung-min Son is still representing his country at the Asian Cup.

Balls over the Top a Cause for Concern for City

It is no secret that counter-attacking football has been a key to beating Pep Guardiola’s teams. This has been seen throughout history, going back to Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid beating Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona to the La Liga title in 2011/2012.

Another tactic Postecoglou’s men can use to potentially beat City is balls over the top, splitting the high line. Passes over the top have exposed Manchester City this season, particularly in the Champions League. For both goals in the game against RB Leipzig, through balls were the problem for their defenders. In fact, during games against Young Boys and Red Star Belgrade as well, the Citizens have conceded in a similar fashion.

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In Maddison and Bentancur, the Lilywhites have two players who are press-resistant and able to thread these defence-splitting balls.

Expect an Open Game

This game features two of the Premier League’s highest scorers for this season (1st and 3rd) so we should expect an open game. City’s team is littered with game-changers and goal-scorers, from Phil Foden, Julian Alvarez, and Bernado Silva to the aforementioned De Bruyne, who himself came off the bench and almost single-handedly won the game for his team against Newcastle. It’s hard to ever bet against a team stacked with talent like City and they could well be on their way to a first victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Spurs themselves are no pushovers and boast of two rapid forward players who can expose the City defence in Brennan Johnson and Timo Werner.  The return of Maddison will provide a much-needed splash of creativity and flair to the London side’s midfield.  The work rate and intense pressing of Dejan Kulusevski will also be key to a result.

It is difficult to predict as all three results are possible, however, given the recent history and home advantage, Spurs may have enough to edge it.

Akash Mahi, a dedicated enthusiast of the game, is a recognized expert in the domain of tennis balls. With a keen understanding of materials and aerodynamics, he has contributed to the evolution of tennis ball design, enhancing playability and performance. Mahi's expertise continues to impact both casual players and professionals alike.