Pep Guardiola’s big problem that could hand Paulo Fonseca and Tottenham advantage vs Man City

Tottenham really couldn’t have been handed a tougher start to the 2021/22 Premier League season with Man City the visitors to N17 on the opening day.

Coasting to Premier League glory after such a slow start to the campaign, Pep Guardiola’s men are again the favourites to lift the famous trophy for a fourth time in five seasons.

Tottenham, on the other hand, face a major battle to finish in the top four having missed out on a Champions League place in each of the past two seasons.

Key to climbing the table again will be to get a new manager in place rather soon with pre-season not that far away and also strengthen in the transfer market as there are certain areas that must be addressed.

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Amid talks with both Mauricio Pochettino and Antonio Conte regarding the hosteat following Jose Mourinho’s dismissal in April, former Roma boss Paulo Fonseca now looks set to take on the top job in north London after a long search.

Maybe not the choice of the vast majority of Tottenham fans, the Mozambique-born head coach has plenty of experience in the game after winning silverware during his time at Porto, Braga and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Fonseca, if appointed as expected, does need to make a fast start to life at Spurs but that will be easier said than done with Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal to come in the first six games.

Three tough games on paper for the Lilywhites, the opening fixture against Man City may come at the perfect time for Fonseca before Pep Guardiola’s men well and truly settle into their rhythm and are at the top of their game.

Winning their opening day fixture in each of the past five seasons since the Spaniard took over in 2016, City weren’t exactly at their free-flowing best last September with a 5-2 defeat against Leicester City and a draw away at Leeds straight after their win over Wolves in their first game.

What could potentially hamper City on the opening weekend this time is that 13 of their players are currently participating in Euro 2020.

While of course a few of their stars could return home early if their respective countries crash out of the tournament, they have a number of players who could quite possibly go all the way into the final week of the competition.

Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Kyle Walker and Phil Foden are representing England, Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva are City’s only players in the Portugal squad after Joao Cancelo was forced to withdraw through Covid-19 and Kevin De Bruyne is a key member of Belgium’s grand plans.

Ilkay Gundogan could also be playing in the latter stages if Germany bounce back from their defeat against France, with Aymeric Laporte, Rodri and Ferran Torres part of the Spain squad.

Set to be given time off to rest once their time at the Euros comes to an end, which is usually around the three week mark, Guardiola potentially may not have a lot of his squad back for pre-season training until the week leading up to the Tottenham opener.

Of course the same applies to Spurs as Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris, Moussa Sissoko and Toby Alderweireld could also find themselves in the same boat.

Guardiola will still be able to put out an incredibly strong XI if he does end up resting some key names but that could hand Spurs and Fonseca a boost heading into the opener.

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It is also worth remembering that City have yet to win at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium since the ground first opened in April 2019.

Winning 1-0 in a Champions League tie on their way to the final, Tottenham have also defeated Guardiola’s men 2-0 in each of the past two seasons.

If Fonseca, providing he does sign on the dotted line following his Roma exit, can mastermind a fourth defeat on the trot in N17 for City by playing eye-catching football then it would be the perfect start to his reign and help get everyone on his side in such a crucial season to the club.

A daunting set of fixtures on paper, it may well be a good time to play Man City and see Tottenham start the season with a bang.

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