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Ndombele key for Man City clash

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Adam Smith

Data and Analysis @AdamDatasmith

Watch Manchester City vs Tottenham live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm on Saturday (kick-off 5.30pm)

Last Updated: 14/08/19 3:26pm

Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele could prove pivotal against Manchester City this weekend, live on Sky Sports. We delve into the stats to explain why...

Ndombele was reportedly on Manchester City's list of transfer targets this summer, but Spurs secured his signature for £63m in early July - two days before City signed Rodri from Atletico Madrid.

2:51 Highlights from Tottenham's 3-1 win against Aston Villa in the Premier League. Highlights from Tottenham's 3-1 win against Aston Villa in the Premier League.

The France international made an instant impact on his Premier League debut against Aston Villa, scoring a vital equaliser from range - before Harry Kane netted a late, match-winning double to secure the 3-1 victory.

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A raft of signings could make debuts this Saturday, with Ryan Sessegnon and Giovani Lo Celso in contention for Spurs, while Joao Cancelo was an unused substitute for City in their 5-0 win at West Ham - but Ndombele was the most expensive recruit by either club this summer.

Tottenham eliminated Pep Guardiola's men en route to the Champions League final last term - but can Ndombele help Spurs claim their first victory over City in the Premier League for nearly three years?

It was a fantastic performance. But to be honest there is a lot to improve, he only showed 30 or 40 per cent of his potential.

Mauricio Pochettino, speaking after the Aston Villa game

Why Ndombele could be key

Ndombele shone against Pep Guardiola's men in the Champions League last season, when Lyon produced a shock 2-1 win at the Etihad and held them to a 2-2 stalemate in France during the group stages.

The heatmaps below epitomise his versatility when playing a central role in a 4-4-1-1 at the Etihad in September, fulfilling defensive duties within a 3-4-3 during the reverse fixture and covering attacking-third territory against Villa last week.

This versatility derives from a unique breadth of skills: blistering pace, considerable physical presence and prolific tackling, along with dribbling ability and close control reminiscent of former Spurs favourite Mousa Dembele,

Ndombele surpasses City's midfield trio for dribbling

Against Villa, Ndombele started on the right of a three-man midfield, in a 4-3-1-2 system, and primarily looked to exchange passes with right-back Kyle Walker-Peters and Harry Winks in central areas.

Harry Winks attempted 18 passes to Ndombele against Villa - the highest tally from one player to another, excluding centre-back combinations

The Frenchman looked to retain possession and penetrate midfield, linking with Erik Lamela, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane in advanced areas of the pitch - although Villa's deep defensive line limited his through-ball attempts to one.

Spurs face a challenge getting upfield against a City side renowned for dominating possession and stifling opposition, but one of Ndomeble's primary strengths is driving forwards and successfully passing upfield, as the graphic above shows.

Team Possession % Man City 68.13 Chelsea 63.39 Liverpool 62.17 Tottenham 59.44 Arsenal 58.27 Man Utd 54.49

So can the Frenchman find pockets in City's star-laden midfield and unlock their notoriously watertight rearguard to send an early message of intent?

Watch Manchester City vs Tottenham live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm on Saturday (kick-off 5.30pm)

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