Man City vs Spurs | Ange's preview: "It's a great test for us and where we're at as a group"
Sat 02 December 2023, 17:30|Tottenham Hotspur
Ange Postecoglou is relishing the Premier League's biggest test - facing Manchester City at the Etihad on Sunday (4.30pm UK).
Reigning champions and treble winners last season, Pep Guardiola's team have won 24 of 25 matches on home soil so far this calendar year, their only draw against Liverpool last weekend. Indeed, since Guardiola took over at the start of the 2016/17 season, City have lost just 12 of 139 matches at home in the Premier League.
We travel to Manchester in the middle of a well-documented injury crisis with no less than 10 first team squad members sidelined - Richarlison, James Maddison, Ivan Perisic, Ryan Sessegnon, Manor Solomon, Pape Matar Sarr, Rodrigo Bentancur, Ashley Phillips, Micky van de Var and Alfie Whiteman. Cristian Romero also serves the last of his three-match suspension. However, Yves Bissouma is back after a one-match ban.
Asked in his pre-match press conference on Friday if the injury list put a bit of a dampener on the game, Ange responded: "No, not really. Irrespective of the team you've got, it's always a challenge playing against City or any team Pep manages. You love that, you relish that, that's the arena you want to be in, measuring yourself against the very best. Yes, it would be great if things were a bit smoother for us, but it is what it is and I still think during this period for us, even last week, there were moments in the game when we played some fantastic football. We've got to get on with it. We can't take our eyes off what we're trying to achieve here. For me, that's always paramount to everything I do, every decision I make. Every time we put a team out there it's about us becoming the team we want to become. Through that process, there's going to be some challenges, as there are now, and you jus have to stay focussed on what you're trying to achieve."
Asked where he felt we could hurt City, Ange said: "It's a great test for us and where we're at as a group, as a team, and our project of trying to become a team that plays the game a certain way. There's no greater measure than playing against the best and that's what we'll have, a strong test at the Etihad. We're looking forward to it, the players are looking forward to it, I'm certainly looking forward to it. They're the kind of things that you don't want to shy away from because they'll give you a great barometer of where you're at, not so much in the result or even performance, it's about your mindset about where you want to be."
Asked if he would make any tactical tweaks - or go a 'little more defensive' - Ange added: "If you had to take a punt what do you reckon I would say? I don't want to be flippant about it and I get the question, but I don't do what I do to try to prove a point. You look at the top teams and there is one common trait amongst them. They all have a plan, they invest in that plan and stick to it. They don't shy away from it at the first difficulty. If you look at City, Arsenal, Liverpool, all the teams that have dominated in recent years, they have a plan and stick to it, and you have to because whatever you believe in, whatever you strongly believe in as a person only gets tested in the toughest of times. It doesn't get tested when things are going well and, for me, these are the important times because this will show what kind of football team we want to be. My hope and my ambition for this club is to make it a big club and to do that you have to be successful and win things. To win things you have to have a plan, stick to it and believe in it and be prepared that during the tough times when you get scrutinised, and invariable people will ask questions, which is fair enough because that's what needs to happen. Again, it is the only way you can test yourself. There is no point everyone saying you're brilliant, that's not a good way to live your life. The best way to keep challenging yourself is when people challenge you, so you need to be prepared for that and take that. You need to show some backbone through that time, and that's what I believe. So, that is my methodology. I am not going there to show people, 'watch me, I'll take them on,' it is because I think that is the way forward for us."