Manuel Pellegrini has warned that Manchester City will be facing a different Tottenham to the side who rolled over twice against the Premier League champions last season.
City triumphed 6-0 at home and 5-1 at White Hart Lane against Spurs in the last campaign but they have made a promising start under Mauricio Pochettino.
Pellegrini said he has admired Pochettino as an adversary both when the Argentinian was at Espanyol and at Southampton, and that he did not expect Tottenham to collapse so easily in the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday.
Pellegrini told a news conference: “Yes I am sure it is a different Tottenham.
“Last year one of the best games that we played was against Tottenham away. Here also we played very well but we are not expecting that we can score six or five goals every time we play Tottenham.
“They are a very strong team. Mauricio Pochettino is a very good manager. I’m not saying Villas-Boas wasn’t in that moment, but really we played our best last season. We hope on Saturday we can do a very good game also.
“He (Pochettino) is a young manager that was very successful in Spain with Espanyol, it was a team that always played good and attractive football and it was a creative team.
“He is trying the same way he did it last season at Southampton. That was a team that played very well, he continues now at Tottenham that is an important club with big players.”
Pellegrini said Yaya Toure was in contention for a place despite playing for the Ivory Coast in a 4-3 home defeat against DR Congo on Wednesday, with the midfielder returning to Manchester on Thursday.
If Toure is feeling any tiredness, that may open the way for Frank Lampard – the club’s player of the month for September – to start.
Pellegrini said he was not surprised by how well 36-year-old Lampard has been performing for City.
“For me it is maybe not a surprise because I know his quality,” said the City manager.
“When you have the age of Frank Lampard you are not able to play three games in a week but when you have so great a player, you can resolve a lot of problems that we have during the game and I think that Frank is doing these duties at this moment. I am very happy with him.”
Eliaquim Mangala is set to miss out against Spurs with a thigh injury.
The defender was an unused substitute for France in midweek and should be fit for City’s Champions League match in Moscow on Tuesday.
All the other City players are fit apart from Samir Nasri, who is still recovering from groin surgery.
Younes Kaboul has told Tottenham to prove their worth on Saturday.
Spurs lost 6-0 and 5-1 to City last season amid a number of heavy defeats to title-chasing teams and their rivals for a Champions League spot.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side are unbeaten away from home this season, including a 1-1 draw at Arsenal, and hope to surprise City at the Etihad Stadium.
“Last season’s games are in the past and in football you always have to focus on the present and look to the future,” the France defender said on tottenhamhotspur.com.
“We can’t wait for this match, we want to go there and play our game.
“We need to repeat the same performance as we produced against Arsenal.
“In these big games we need to do something to show everyone what we are capable of.”
The heavy losses to City came under Pochettino’s predecessors Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood, and the Argentinian cared little when reminded of the 11-1 aggregate scoreline of last term.
The Tottenham boss will give goalkeeper Hugo Lloris every opportunity to prove his fitness ahead of the match after being forced out of France duty with a thigh injury.
Michel Vorm is on standby to come into the side.
Belgium midfielder Nacer Chadli (hip) will be given a chance to prove his fitness, too, while striker Emmanuel Adebayor and Nabil Bentaleb were to be assessed on their returns from international duty on Friday.
Pochettino hopes to blend the established first-team stars and new recruits with academy talent in future, like he successfully managed to do at previous club Southampton.
“We need to get the balance – you buy players and then you provide players from the academy who deserve to arrive in the first team,” Pochettino added.
“Always in football it’s the balance question. It’s important.
“Tottenham have spent a lot of money on keeping the academy and creating a magnificent training ground, and now we need to get the benefits from that.”