Football Expert & Columnist
Roberto Mancini and Man City are undefeated but not on top form ahead of their clash with Spurs
Issues on and off the pitch are affecting Man City and Spurs' visit will be a tough test, says Jamie.
Last Updated: 09/11/12 12:58pm
Chelsea need points after their defeat to Manchester United and 1-1 draw with Swansea, while their opponents Liverpool are drawing too many games and will be desperate for a win.
But before they meet at Stamford Bridge, Manchester City host Tottenham - and Roberto Mancini's side is under a bit of pressure, although it seems as though the Italian is putting that on his side himself.
City, as reigning champions, certainly haven't played as well as they'd have liked to this year. They're still undefeated so it is far from desperate times, but they seem to be grinding out results and, as we saw against West Ham last week, they are struggling to finish teams off.
One player doesn't make a team but David Silva's absence has definitely had an impact. Even before his injury the Spaniard wasn't hitting the same heights as last season but when games are tight you just need someone like him to unlock the door and play that pass only a few players in football can see. They really need to get him back and firing.
However, his hamstring injury could restrict his game-time on Sunday and Silva's not the only player to have spent time in the City treatment room this season. Key players including captain Vincent Kompany, James Milner and Micah Richards have all been side-lined this term with problems and, coupled with Mancini rotating the players he does have fit, that has led to City fielding a constantly changing line-up for much of this season.
They've already used 24 players in the Premier League and I don't feel Mancini has given his players the opportunity to build an understanding on the pitch. Continuity is key in football - but Mancini has almost got too many options. He's trying to keep everyone happy but that's causing problems.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, there seems to be a power struggle taking place. Mancini has spoken about the offers he's had from other clubs and his belief he deserves more respect for his work at City. At the same time the board have brought in former Barcelona technical director Txiki Begiristain as their director of football.
To Mancini's displeasure, City didn't sign a real star player this summer to inspire their squad to kick on and go again this year and every week they seem to be reminded about what they're missing out on by failing to get Robin van Persie's signature.
However, despite all those issues they are still right in the mix and I'd still have them and United as title favourites. The players will be frustrated and disappointed their form hasn't been quite there - particularly in the Champions League - but they dealt with pressure well last season and I'm sure they'll show what they're all about again.
Tottenham, on the other hand, come to the Etihad on the back of a surprising defeat to Wigan. Boss Andre Villas-Boas raised eyebrows when he took off Jermain Defoe for Emmanuel Adebayor, despite Spurs trailing and that seemed like a really strange decision to me.
However, I think Villas-Boas has done a reasonable job there so far. The real test of his abilities - and whether he's learnt from his Chelsea experience - will be when the club go on a bad run of results.
Before playing Wigan they'd won five of their last six - it's only when you're losing games week-in, week-out that football management gets hard, when things aren't going well, when players aren't happy and when you've got fans querying your every decision.
They've got City and Arsenal away as their next two games and if they lose both of those people will be asking questions. But I think their game is well-suited to playing counter-attacking football away from home at the moment; City lack confidence and I can see them taking a point from their trip to Manchester.
Spurs can be inspired by their last trip to the city, when they beat United 3-2, but City are undefeated so I'm going for a 1-1 draw.
Check out Jamie Redknapp's Red Hot Tips each week at Sky Bet.