In perhaps the best FA Cup fourth-round matchup of the season, Tottenham Hotspur takes on Manchester City, the reigning winners, on Friday in a tantalizing North London match.
If Tottenham doesn’t have a surprise Premier League title comeback in the upcoming months, the FA Cup represents their best chance of breaking their ugly 16-year streak without a trophy. Spurs have no European trophy to compete for, and their early exit from the EFL Cup represents the first blot on Ange Postecoglou’s notebook.
Before right-back Pedro Porro’s spectacular second-half strike into the top corner of the net ended the match and extended Spurs’ winning run at home to four games, there wasn’t much for either Tottenham or Burnley to be excited about during their round three match earlier this month.
Nine days following a lackluster victory over the Clarets, Tottenham went back on the road to face Manchester United, City’s erstwhile noisy neighbors. United twice took the lead thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund, but were beaten twice by Richarlison and Rodrigo Bentancur.
The Lilywhites will have 12 days to reflect on that 2-2 draw before continuing their pursuit of glory in the FA Cup, a competition in which they have not exited the fourth round since 2018–19. If they are unable to overcome a Red Devils team experiencing a prolonged plateau under Erik ten Hag, it may be seen as a wasted opportunity.
Tottenham hasn’t lost an FA Cup home encounter against the defending champions since 1952, when they were crushed 3-0 by Newcastle United. However, Friday’s match will be their first FA Cup home fixture against the team since they were outplayed by AC Milan in March 2023.
Seeking to emulate the Magpies, City began their pursuit of back-to-back FA Cup victories with a typical Etihad demolition of lower-tier opposition, slamming five goals past Huddersfield Town without response to start the New Year in a decisive manner.
The treble winners’ five-star performance coincidentally marked their fifth straight win in all competitions before they traveled across the North to face Newcastle, who lost 3-2 to Pep Guardiola’s team, who were staring down the barrel of defeat until the Belgian’s brilliance shone through.
De Bruyne, making his first Premier League appearance since the season’s first weekend, struck the bottom corner for City’s equalizer before setting up Oscar Bobb for the late victory, which many thought marked a turning point in the Citizens’ previously struggling championship campaign.