BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 14TH FEBRUARY, 2016
MANCHESTER CITY 1(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(0)
Man City scorer:-
Kane (pen), 53
Referee:- Mark Clattenburg
Assistants:- S.Burt & J.Brooks
Fourth official:- M. Dean
Man City (4-2-3-1):- Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany (Capt.), Otamendi, Clichy (sub Kolarov, 75); Fernando (sub Iheanacho, 66), Fernandinho; Silva, Toure, Sterling; Aguero
Subs not used:- Caballero; Demichelis; Celina, Garcia Serrano, Garcia Alonso
Booked:- Kompany (foul on Alli)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Rose; Dier, Dembele; Son (sub Carroll, 72), Eriksen, Alli (sub Lamela, 81); Kane (sub Chadli (89)
Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier, Davies; Mason
Booked:- Dier (foul on Toure), Wimmer (foul on Silva), Carroll (Dissent)
Spurs win game of high stakes!
It was Valentine’s Day. It was Christian Eriksen’s 24th birthday. On a day when the Premier League’s top four sides met (for only the sixth time since the inception of the Premier League), Spurs won this game of the highest stakes, and retained second place, on goal difference above their hated rivals from the wrong end of The Seven Sisters Road. After Danny Welbeck (making his first appearance for Arsenal for nearly a year) scored their winner against Leicester in the dying moments of their game, it became imperative for Spurs to try and match them to maintain what is now a most genuine Premier League title chase.
The last time Spurs came here as title contenders was 4 years ago, when Harry Redknapp’s side narrowly lost 3-2 and slipped away from contention for the very top prize in English football. The last time Spurs won here at The Etihad Stadium was famously in May 2010, when Peter Crouch fired us into the Champions League. That was also the last time Spurs achieved a Premier League “double” over Manchester City. Now The Etihad has been expanded to accommodate 55,000 people, most of whom eagerly await the arrival of Pep Guardiola in the hope that he will take City to the greatest heights.
We had hoped for a weakened City side, like the one we had thrashed 4-1 at White Hart Lane in September, missing captain Kompany and creative genius David Silva. Our hopes were not met, as we had to face virtually a full strength City side, even if Kevin De Bruyne was out injured. It is all the more to the credit of Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side that we beat the best Pelligrini could throw at us. It was a City team that did seek to pull out all the stops. They, after all, were just as desperate as us for the sweet taste of victory.
It was Spurs though, who went away with the spoils, and birthday boy Eriksen who claimed the glory of a magnificent winning goal, beautifully teed up by substitute Erik Lamela. The love-in commenced in front of three tiers of ecstatic away fans, but there would be some ten minutes for Spurs to hold out against a most determined City side.
Pochettino switched his full backs, probably preferring the pace of Walker against the threat of Raheem Sterling, and the guts of Rose against any player wearing Sky Blue. Son replaced Chadli, and Dele Alli started in favour of Lamela. Spurs did not play like an away team. They played like Pochettino’s Spurs, seeking to camp in opposition territory; to press them everywhere; to push them back; to keep them at bay, and ultimately to threaten goal. A Spurs free kick by Eriksen was hit by Alderweireld, but deflected away from danger.
Referee Mark Clattenburg, who refereed our home win against City had “words” with Yaya Toure over a heavy challenge on Mousa Dembele. City had a corner after 9 minutes, from which Aguero scooped the ball well over the target. A good move down Spurs’ left ended with a good long ball to Walker, who crossed inside for Son, but the offside flag had been raised. Son did put the ball in the net from a tight angle, but it was not allowed, of course.
After 15 minutes and a foul on Aguero, City’s free kick was fed to Sterling, who crossed for Silva, who won a corner. Silva attacked down the right, and passed to Toure, who fed the ball to Ageuro. Toure was fouled as the ball was returned to him in dangerous territory for Spurs. After the free kick, Danny Rose bravely got his body fully behind Sterling’s shot. Fernandinho went in heavily upon Danny Rose soon after that, but was shown no card. Hugo Lloris advanced and was clearly in conversation with the referee, who seemed to be indicating the offence resulted from a “coming together” rather than a malicious act by the City player.
After 27 minutes, Spurs broke from defence and Danny Rose passed inside to Eriksen, whose powerful shot was parried by Joe Hart, and ultimately cleared from the right touch-line by City. That was really the only save of note by either goalkeeper in the first half. Spurs again turned defence into attack, and Rose was again the provider, before Eric Dier fired over from a good 25 yards. Danny Rose won a corner with a shot of his own, and Eric Dier got the first yellow of the game for a foul on Toure.
Kompany also saw yellow soon after the break for a foul on Dele Alli as he was seeking to break clear just inside the City half. A Yaya Toure free kick from the right was deflected into the path of Aguero, who was again off target.
Referee Clattenburg showed no hesitation in awarding Spurs a penalty when Danny Rose confronted Sterling just inside the City box. Rose hit the ball; Sterling turned, but his elbow was stuck out and the ball hit his arm. Of course City connections are not happy. Of course, Spurs fans are happy, not least because once again Harry Kane stepped up the plate and fired confidently to the left of Hart’s dive. It’s a pleasant change this season, but Spurs seem to be winning more penalties, and winning decisions that teams such as Manchester United used to get a few years ago. Long may that trend continue!
City responded with vigour. A corner by Sterling from the right was headed wide of the back post by Fernandinho. Wimmer was shown a yellow card for a foul on Silva, perhaps harshly. Yaya Toure’s powerful free kick went over the wall and appeared to have been magnificently saved by Lloris with an out-stretched and up-stretched hand. However, the ball actually rebounded off the bar. Spurs defended stoutly against all being thrown at them during this phase, with Alderweireld and Wimmer both solid.
Fernando was replaced by 19 year old Kelechi Iheanaco, scorer of 9 league and cup goals for City in his debut season in the first team. Dele Alli fed an excellent ball through to Son Heung-min, but the Spurs man handled the ball as he controlled it before shooting. Harry Kane was down injured near the half-way line and Danny Rose carried the ball forward well into the City half before putting the ball out of play voluntarily. Zabaleta didn’t like the fact that Rose had gained so much ground before this course of action, and had to be restrained by his captain and goalkeeper Joe Hart. The City crowd booed Danny Rose thereafter!
It didn’t take long before Iheanacho did his job, converting Clichy’s cross with a shot that went in off the underside of the bar. Soon after that Clichy was replaced by Kolarov, as Pelligrini no doubt sniffed late victory.
However, it was Spurs who took the spoils within minutes of Lamela replacing the flagging Dele Alli. Lamela went on a run just inside the City half, before pushing a precision ball to Eriksen, who beat Hart with a good low finish. Whilst there was some backs to the wall defending to be done by Spurs, Harry Kane had a good chance after fielding an excellent long ball by Alderweireld. Harry exchanged passed with Eriksen before hitting a shot wide of the far post. Kompany, Sterling and Silva all went close during the four minutes of added time, but Spurs held on for a victory celebrated for a considerable time by the travelling fans, and of course by the players they love.
Spurs have now won seven consecutive games, five of which have been Premier League matches. We have the best goal difference in the Premier League by a margin. We are now four points ahead of Man City who are in fourth place, and a full ten points ahead of fifth placed United. There are tough games ahead, but none tougher than this stern test passed today. Glory could be ours!
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