By Russell Edge

14th Dec, 2017 | 7:42pm

Lawrenson: This is why clash v Manchester City is critical for Tottenham and Pochettino

BBC Sport pundit Mark Lawrenson has said that Tottenham’s clash against Manchester City is critical to prove that Mauricio Pochettino has what it takes to compete with the biggest teams in the league.

Spurs travel to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday 18 points adrift of Pep Guardiola’s men at the top of the table, sitting in fourth after Wednesday’s 2-0 win at home to Brighton.

City meanwhile have been in imperious form this season, having gone unbeaten through the campaign so far, and broke the football league record for most consecutive wins with their 4-0 thrashing of Swansea, the 15th game on the bounce in which they have tasted victory.

Lawrenson says that the showdown in the north west is important for more than just points, as Spurs boss Pochettino looks to improve on an abysmal away record against top six sides.

Predicting a 1-1 draw between the two sides, the pundit wrote on BBC Sport’s website: “It is really important for Tottenham that Mauricio Pochettino’s side acquit themselves well here.

“Spurs’ record under him in the big games, especially away from home, has been poor – just one win in 17.

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“City have just been great and Tottenham will have to be at their best to hold them up – but I think they can be the team to do it.”

The last match between the two sides ended 2-2, with Spurs coming from behind twice thanks to goals from Heung-min Son, who scored in his third consecutive league game against Brighton, and Dele Alli, who was dropped to the bench against the Seagulls.

In other Tottenham news, Paul Merson has revealed the trio of Spurs stars who will make the difference against City.

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