Tottenham’s home match against Manchester City on Saturday is being billed as a chance for my old club to prove that they’re serious title contenders. But Spurs have already sent a powerful message to the rest of the Premier League with their performances so far this season, whether that was demolishing Manchester United 6-1 at Old Trafford or grinding out victory at Burnley.
If they beat City then Spurs message will resonate even more. City have had their problems this season but they’re still one of the best teams in the world. Spurs are capable of beating them and are genuine title contenders, especially in a year when the race looks wide open.
Mourinho steering Spurs in right direction
It is exactly a year since Jose Mourinho took over as Spurs manager. At the time I said it was a good appointment and backed Mourinho to succeed when many fans were unhappy about his arrival. I bet they’re not complaining now. Spurs’ league position shows Mourinho is taking the club in the right direction. And they’re not just playing defensive football either – just look at the brilliant form Son Heung-min is in at the moment.
At the same time, no manager is more than two defeats from a crisis so he needs to keep up the good work.
It will be fascinating to see Mourinho take on Pep Guardiola on Saturday. Their rivalry has been played out in some heady atmospheres – El Clasico in Spain and the Manchester derby – but in front of no fans in north London on Saturday it will be different. There probably won’t be any verbal clashes between the pair because they wouldn’t want the TV cameras picking that up!
The rivalry is always there between them and it will be played out on the pitch as they pit their wits tactically. I want to see Tottenham win, to say to the whole league that they’re serious about challenging for the title, and I believe they will win a tight match.
Solskjaer should pick Cavani to start against West Brom
Edinson Cavani was sent off for a rash challenge while playing for Uruguay against Brazil in midweek. I don’t think this necessarily shows there’s fire in the forward. We already knew he had plenty of passion, otherwise he wouldn’t have such a fantastic goal-scoring record.
I want the big Uruguayan to score more for United, after getting his first against Everton a couple of weeks ago, but to do that he needs to play more minutes.
I want to see Cavani play down the middle, with Anthony Martial on the left and Marcus Rashford to the right. When he has come on, Cavani has looked sharp so far for United and made some excellent runs. At 33, he’s in great shape and, with young guys around him, he could be lethal for United.
Saturday’s home match against struggling West Brom would be a perfect opportunity for Solskjaer to play Cavani in the centre of the United attack.
Leicester must seize golden opportunity at Liverpool
Liverpool will be without Mo Salah, Thiago, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho and possibly even more for their match against Premier League leaders Leicester on Sunday. That’s on top of long term absence Virgil van Dijk. When you’re missing so much quality and experience then you’re going to have a problem.
I will be interested to see how Liverpool replace their missing players but whoever comes in needs to be at the top of their game.
Opponents of Leicester’s quality can sniff an opportunity and Brendan Rodgers would love to win at Anfield. I wouldn’t rule out the Foxes in the title race and I can see them winning this match. They play great football and Jamie Vardy, who is flying once more, can exploit Liverpool’s makeshift defence. I think Leicester will win this match and make the title race even more complicated.
Guardiola can help Torres become one of the best
Ferrán Torres scored a great hat-trick in Spain’s historic 6-0 victory over Germany this week. The 20-year-old was superb in a great team performance. Along with Barcelona’s Ansu Fati, who missed Tuesday’s match, Torres is emerging as one of Spain’s next generation of stars.
Pep Guardiola looks like he pulled off a masterstroke when he signed the winger for around 20m euros and, now that Guardiola has signed a new contract at the Etihad, he can help the Spaniard to fulfil his potential and perhaps become the successor to David Silva.
But let’s not get carried away and put too much pressure on the lad. He is on the right path, his value is skyrocketing, but he needs to learn to produce match-winning displays week in and week out, as the likes of Silva have done over the course of their careers. City will be delighted that they’ve got him.
De Gea deserves to be Spain’s number one
David De Gea wasn’t selected for the match against Germany – the third successive match in which he’s been overlooked. Luis Enrique preferred Unai Simó and I don’t know why because De Gea has played well for United this season.
He is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He has made mistakes but all goalkeepers do that and De Gea has a lot more to give.
I’ve no doubt that if De Gea, who’s only 30, is patient and keeps performing for United, he will get back into his national side very soon.
Felix can inspire Atletico to rare win over Barca
Ateltico Madrid’s Joao Félix is a young player I like very much. He is a good finisher and he makes excellent final passes to set up his team-mates. He has imagination and can improvise and I want him to bring those qualities to Saturday’s La Liga crunch clash against Barcelona.
The bad news for Atletico is that Luis Suarez won’t be playing but they should still feel confident. They are, for one thing, above their opponents in the table. Lionel Messi said this week that he’s fed up of being blamed when Barca under perform. That shows that there are still problems at the club and Barca look vulnerable.
Atletico can exploit Barca’s weaknesses and kick on to mount a serious challenge for La Liga. If Diego Simeone’s men are going to win the Spanish title then they will probably never have a better chance than this season.