Despite not being direct rivals, Manchester City and Tottenham have played out some important clashes over recent years.
As the sides prepare to do battle at the Etihad Stadium this afternoon, both are in need of points to keep in touch with the Premier League pacesetters.
The hosts will accept nothing short of top spot this season, while the visitors’ goal is to command a top-four berth and qualify for the Champions League.
Ironically, Spurs’ last outing in Europe’s top tournament in 2010-11 was facilitated by a win over City at the Etihad at the end of the season prior.
With both City and Spurs fighting for fourth spot in the 2009-10 campaign, the sides met in May 2010 in something of a winner-takes-all clash. The north Londoners were thoroughly deserved of their 1-0 victory, with Peter Crouch getting the all-important goal to send Spurs into the Champions League for the following campaign, with City finishing fifth.
Fast forward to the 2011-12 season, and the results between the sides in their two Premier League meetings would have a major impact on the pursuit of their respective objectives.
City beat Tottenham 5-1 on the opening day of the season at White Hart Lane, before edging a thrilling 3-2 clash in Manchester in the reverse fixture.
Roberto Mancini’s men went on to win the Premier League at the death, while Spurs, despite finish fourth, missed out on Champions League football due to Chelsea’s heroics on the continent. Their results at City effectively cost them third place, as north London neighbours Arsenal secured third by a point.
Despite the significance of the 5-1 thumping on the opening day, it will be the 3-2 return fixture that sticks in the throat of Spurs fans still to this day.
The defeat in this January 2012 fixture marked the start of a poor run of form by Harry Redknapp’s men, which eventually cost them over the course of the campaign. The kicker? It could and maybe should have been so different.
In the dying moments, with both sides desperate to win the encounter, Defoe slid in at the back post in an effort to convert the winner, but was agonisingly a whisker away from becoming the hero.
City went up the other end, with Mario Balotelli winning and consequently converting a 95th minute penalty to take all three points. The Italian was lucky to be on the pitch after a suspected stamp on Scott Parker earlier in the affair.
Spurs exacted some semblance of revenge last term with a 3-1 win at White Hart Lane in April, which all-but ended City’s hopes of retaining their Premier League crown.
With Mancini’s men in need of a desperate three points to keep within striking distance of eventual champions Manchester United, Samir Nasri had given the visitors the lead early in the piece.
However, with Spurs also needing the points in their battle for fourth, a whirlwind last 15 minutes saw Clint Dempsey, Defoe and Bale all score in an exhilarating end to the game.
The result deflated City to a point they did not make a return from, while Spurs’ chances of the top four were kept alive – to no avail in the end.
With today’s fixture in focus, the result has every chance of being just as important as some of the exciting and end-to-end clashes that the sides have played out over recent seasons.
With Spurs in seventh and City in ninth before the game, a win for either will lift them into fourth place. Three points would be a real confidence boost and a jump up the table for the victor. Defeat would see many question the losing side’s credentials for achievement this term.
One thing that has been a common denominator of games between the sides of late is goals. If the current trend continues it should be quite a spectacle for the neutral, as these two have shared 18 goals in the last four meetings of the sides.