SUNDAY 2ND OCTOBER, 2016
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(2) MANCHESTER CITY 0(0)
Kolarov (o.g, 9)
Referee:- Andre Marriner
Assistants:- S. Beck & A. Garratt
Fourth official:- J. Moss
Spurs (4-1-4-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama; Sissoko (sub Dier, 72), Eriksen, Alli (sub Nkoudou, 86), Lamela; Son (sub Janssen, 90)
Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier, Davies; Winks
Booked:- Wanyama (foul on Aguero), Rose (unsporting conduct at a throw-in)
Man. City (4-1-4-1):- Bravo; Zabaleta (Capt.), Otamendi, Stones, Kolarov; Fernando (sub Gundogan, 53); Navas (sub Iheanacho, 65), Fernandinho, Silva, Sterling (sub Sane, 87); Aguero
Subs not used:- Caballero; Sagna, Clichy; Garcia
Booked:- Otamendi (foul on Alli), Sterling (foul on Rose)
We are contenders!
Last season, Spurs were regarded as true Premier League title contenders relatively late, and at a time when Leicester were already a good distance ahead. We all know what happened in the closing stages, when the Spurs challenge was snuffed out.
This season, Spurs have made their best ever start to a Premier League term. The press seem to disregard the old Division One records and the fine achievement of Bill Nicholson's double team, which won their first 11 games. On Wednesday night Pep Guardiola's Manchester City failed to match that Spurs record of winning their first eleven games, when they were held to a 3-3 draw in The Champions League by Celtic.
In that history-making 1960-61 season it was City who brought an end to Spurs' 100% opening record. Today, the situations were reversed, with Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs ending City's 100% start to the Premier League season, with a magnificent and thoroughly deserved 2-0 win.
In doing so, Spurs have ended one unbeaten record, and maintained their own unbeaten seven game start, and held second place. Pochettino's men have done this in the face of the sternest of early challenges in what will be a tough Premier League season, keeping Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton, Man Utd and Chelsea behind them.
Yes, it is very early in the season, but Spurs have made a firm statement with an assured performance today. I would suggest that Pochettino has planned very carefully for this game, over the last two or three weeks, managing the game-time and availability of his players impeccably. We saw a 4-1-4-1 last week at Middlesbrough and on Tuesday in Moscow. That is Guardiola's style and it was more than matched by those in Lilywhite and blue today.
I was a little surprised by the team selection today, but Pochettino (he's magic, you know) knew exactly what he was doing. Vincent Janssen was relegated to the bench with in-form top scorer Son Heung-min up front. Moussa Sissoko, who I though had a concussion last week, played on the right flank, giving Kyle Walker (rested in Moscow) time to concentrate on stemming the threat of Raheem Sterling. Walker did an excellent job for most of the game. Sissoko played well too, helping out defensively, as well as linking in effectively on attack down the right.
Sterling and City's other renowned danger man Sergio Aguero were given few opportunities, and when they did arise, Walker, and the magnificent central defending partnership of Alderweireld and Vertonghen blocked or cleared the threat. Yes, City did manage shots on goal, but Hugo Lloris was also in top form, making several precious saves.
Hugo's opponent Claudio Bravo did not look so comfortable in the City goal, and Spurs harried he and his defence relentlessly. Spurs played an "ultra-high" press today.
Spurs kicked off towards The Park Lane stand, and even in the first minute presented a threat when Eriksen fed a ball to Walker on the right. Kyle passed inside and Son wriggled his way into the box past the defence and hit a shot across goal just above the far corner. In the next minute, Son nearly reached a Danny Rose cross.
City offered an early threat when Aguero spread the play to Navas on the right, whose cross passed dangerously across the area getting a defensive touch somewhere to concede a comer. Son won a corner at the other end, cutting in from the right, with John Stones only too happy to put the ball out. Son was popping up left and right, looking sharp, and always likely to pass his opponent.
Spurs took an early lead after the excellent Victor Wanyama won the ball in midfield (not for the first or last time), leading to a Spurs attack. Erik Lamela passed to Danny Rose on the left, and his cross beat Son and most of the defence, but not left back Kolarov, who inadvertently sliced his attempted clearance into his own goal off the inside of the woodwork.
Spurs went for the throat, and again it was Son offering the threat, getting into the left of the box, hitting a shot which Bravo saved - pushing out for a corner.
After 15 minutes, Otamendi inexplicably handled the ball outside the box, and conceded a free kick. It was a deliberate offence, and might have warranted a card, but referee Andre Marriner deemed the free kick sufficient punishment. Lamela took the kick, and Bravo struggled to keep the ball in front of the goal-line. Toby Alderweireld was adjudged to have pushed the keeper over that line.
Soon after that Otamendi did see yellow when he fouled Dele Alli just outside the box. Eriksen took the kick which passed just over the right-hand corner. At the other end, Aguero went down when strongly challenged. Spurs countered with Dele Alli providing a pass for Son, who was caught offside - not for the first or last time either!
After a Man City free kick, playmaker David Silva offered a pass to Aguero who fired across goal. Sterling had an effort on target, but Lloris was down to cover. Wanyama was booked for a foul on Aguero, who took the kick which was well saved by Lloris, diving to his left.
Otamendi was penalised again, for a foul on Dele Alli, but shown no card. He had committed three bookable offences, but saw just one card. Mr. Marriner was not so slow to call out Spurs players. The Spurs free kick was cleared.
Spurs' high pressing and pressure in every part of the pitch was relentless, and they were rewarded with a second goal after pressure in the middle released the ball to Son, who fed Dele Alli, who beat Bravo with an angled right-footed shot.
Lloris held a Navas cross/shot, and in added time, he raced out to challenge and clear from the feet of Aguero. Spurs ended the half going forward, but I noticed that Hugo hobbled off, with the Spurs physio in attendance. Thankfully Hugo was okay to lead his team out for the second half.
That interval had featured Paul Coyte interviewing "Skipper" Steve Perryman, but sadly the audio quality in the South Stand is so poor I have no idea what was being said.
The officials changed their colours during the interval. Their purple tops clashed a little with City's away strip which was black with a lilac hue. Their turquoise second half strip might have clashed with Hugo Lloris's top!
Spurs started the second half brightly, with Son fed by Eriksen on the left hitting a left foot shot across the far post. Wanyama got forward and he hit a right footed shot, which took a slight touch to win a corner. Son and Eriksen had a promising attack as they exchanged passes on the left of the area, but Son was blocked at the last minute. Son had a great game, but sometimes, he did just fail with his final touches.
City were always going to put everything into the second half, and Spurs' attacking legs must have been fading somewhat. Fernandinho presented Aguero with a good chance, but his shot was saved by a diving Lloris with the assistance of the right stanchion.
Danny Rose had been booked late in the first half, and was riding his luck a little when he fouled Sterling just outside the Spurs area. The free kick came to nought. Guardiola replaced the defensive Fernando with attacking midfielder Gundogan, who had played 90 minutes on Wednesday at Celtic Park.
A poor clearance by Bravo gave Spurs a chance when Wanyama picked up; Sissoko fed Eriksen, but Christian's shot was easily held. Spurs should have gone three up when, after great attacking play by Kyle Walker, Dele Alli was fouled in the box by Fernandinho. Son wanted the ball, but Erik Lamela was insistent. Sadly, he is all too readable (left foot, left of the keeper) and Bravo saved his effort.
Guardiola tried to boost his attack with Iheanacho replacing Navas. Sterling squeezed a shot through the middle from outside the box, but Lloris was down to save.
Sissoko, who had his best Spurs game yet, took a knock, and was replaced by Eric Dier. Iheanacho, who has proved a good replacement for Aguero in his fledgling career, had a chance, but Lloris saved again. Gundogan's shot offered no threat when it passed wide. There were ironic cheers from the Spurs crowd when Iheanacho missed his kick when inside the Spurs area on the left.
Dele Alli was replaced by Nkoudou, with Janssen a very late replacement for Son. Spurs were happy and confident to close out the game, and to keep a clean sheet. Both centre backs were excellent throughout, but Jan Vertonghen won particular cheers and chants for his clearances late in the game.
Stones was now getting forward for City, offering Aguero a final chance, which was saved by Hugo. In the final moments, Wanyama and Janssen threatened before the referee blew the final whistle, and Spurs were justifiably rewarded with the great acclaim of the home crowd.
It had been a great game of football, and in the first half, we had seen the best of Spurs. The atmosphere had been brilliant throughout. I wonder if any other team has beaten City in three consecutive games since Sheik Mansour arrived?
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