What is bad for Manchester United is bad for Manchester City, reckon Tottenham Hotspur, who believe they can beat Roberto Mancini's team at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday by using the same approach that brought them victory at Old Trafford earlier this season. The 3-2 triumph over United was the highlight of an impressive Spurs road show in a Premier League campaign that has so far yielded three victories from four away matches.

They have scored nine goals from those four games, more than they have mustered in six home matches, leading to a the conviction that André Villas-Boas's side are currently better suited to playing away. Arsenal are the only Premier League visitors to have taken a point from City at the Etihad this season but Swansea and Southampton have come close while the club's Champions League travails, deepened by this week's home draw with Ajax, fuel Spurs' belief that attacking their hosts could pay dividends.

"City is a little bit struggling and I think we can get a good result there," said the Spurs centre-back Jan Vertonghen, adding that the speed of players such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon helps unhinge defences and exploit the space that home teams tend to leave, as opposed to visitors to White Hart Lane who are more inclined to sit deep and frustrate Tottenham.

"We are confident that against the best teams in the league we can do well," added Vertonghen. "Maybe it is because we have a lot of pace and we can hurt them in transition ... I think we played our best games in the away games so that gives us confidence."

Villas-Boas warned that little can be read into City's current form but promised that his team will play with audacity.

"A team with such talent and ability [as City] are always in a position to bounce back. But in these games we have nothing to lose. We are on an extremely good form away from home. We have to approach the game in the right manner."

It will be intriguing to see what components the manager will choose to enact that approach. The display of Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe during Thursday's 3-1 Europa League win over Maribor may convince the Portuguese to start with that pair up front in a 4-4-2 formation.

Although Adebayor did not excel in the match – his first start of the season – his presence did appear to give Spurs an effective balance, with the Togolese and the Englishman taking it in turns to serve as fulcrum and finisher, Defoe proving more effective in the latter department by netting all three goals. Villas-Boas says he has yet to make up his mind.

That display may have secured Defoe's starting point and the fact that Adebayor has always given the impression that he revels meeting former clubs may add weight to the chances of the Togolese being deployed . Clint Dempsey is another option and although the American has yet to look consistently dangerous since his summer move from Fulham, he offers a greater dynamism and defensive qualities than Adebayor.

That may prove only a secondary concern if, as expected, the Brazilian midfielder Sandro recovers in time to take up the midfield holding role alongside Tom Huddlestone. Gylfi Sigurdsson, still struggling for form following his arrival in the summer, is likely to begin the game on the bench.