SATURDAY 21ST JANUARY, 2017
MANCHESTER CITY 2(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(0)
Man City scorers:-
De Bruyne, 54
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistants: S Beck, A Garratt
Fourth official: M Jones
Man City (4-1-2-3):- Bravo; Zabaleta (Capt.), Otamendi, Kolarov, Clichy (sub Stones, 84); Toure; De Bruyne, Silva (Delph, 90); Sterling (sub de Jesus, 82), Aguero, Sane
Subs not used:- Caballero; Kompany; Fernando; Nolito
Booked:- Kolarov (foul on Kane), Otamendi (foul on Alli)
Spurs (3-4-1-2):- Lloris (Capt.); Dier, Alderweireld (sub Winks, 65), Wimmer (sub Son, 46); Walker, Wanyama, Dembele (sub Sissoko, 78), Rose; Kane, Alli
Subs not used: Vorm; Trippier, Davies, Carter-Vickers
Booked:- Wimmer (foul), Dier (foul on Aguero), Alli (unsporting conduct), Wanyama (foul on Aguero)
Great comeback makes it a great day for Spurs
After a first half in which they had been lucky to finish level at 0-0, Spurs went 2-0 down within the first 9 minutes of the second half, due mainly to uncharacteristic errors by goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris. After their 4-0 drubbing last week at Goodison Park, it was crucial for Pep Guardiola’s side to impress at home and arguably this was a must-win game for the manager. Guardiola certainly seemed to have out-trumped Mauricio Pochettino tactically, with a very attacking line-up, and Spurs failed to test City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. Goals by Dele Alli and substitute Son Heung-min made it 2-2, making it a great comeback for Spurs and a great day bearing in mind Liverpool’s surprise lost at home to Swansea, and Man Utd’s draw at Stoke.
That Guardiola line-up was certainly a shake-up with John Stones relegated to the bench, and Kolarov taking his position. Yaya Toure was at the back of midfield with De Bruyne and Silva just in front of him and supporting a front three of Sterling, Aguero and Leroy Sane. Pochettino went for a back three of Dier, Alderweireld and Wimmer, but before the half was out, he had pushed Dier forward into midfield. At the star of the second half, Wimmer was withdrawn in favour of Son, and a formal return to 4 at the back. Ultimately that switch yielded rewards, but not before Spurs had gone two down. Other rewards can be found if you use a MyBet partnercode, but don't hesitate!
Spurs were on the back foot for too much of the time, with the City attack looking as threatening as the City side have been so often in recent years against Spurs and other teams. The Spurs defence had already been kept busy by the pace of Aguero and Sane, before Toby Alderweireld made a great tackle inside the box to deprive Zabaleta of the ball and a shot on goal.
Eric Dier took an early booking for an incident where referee Andre Marriner wasn’t even going to give a foul until his assistant had signalled. Spurs were too often guilty of trying to play the ball short out of the area, and Hugo Lloris would often put his team under pressure with a short kick to a defender who might already be marked by two opponents. Lloris did make several good saves during the game, the first of which came from Silva’s shot, which Hugo was happy to push round his post for a corner. Following the corner a shot by Zabaleta passed just outside Lloris’s right post.
Victor Wanyama was making many vital interventions for Spurs in the face of the repeated City attacks. Spurs had their first attack of any real potential midway through the first half , but Dele Alli was called offside for Harry Kane’s pass. One short pass by Lloris led to a chance for De Bruyne, but he hit the shot wide. At the other end, Wanyama did get a shot on goal, but that went well over the target.
Sane had a header go wide of Lloris’s right post after a Clichy cross , before the goalkeeper firmly held a powerful Aguero cross. After a mistake by Wimmer, City came back at the Spurs goal through De Bruyne’s cross, and Lloris made a great save to hold the ball from Aguero’s header. Toby Alderweireld found life difficult today against Aguero who won a battle with the Spurs defender before testing Lloris who had to make a save diving at his right post. Lloris’s next save was from a Sterling shot, after Silva had set him up. In added time Kolarov was shown a yellow card for impeding Kane. Spurs had done well to reach half-time on level terms.
Son replaced Wimmer at half-time and Spurs reverted to 4-2-1-2-1 with Eriksen behind Alli and Son. In truth, Pochettino was now mirroring Guardiola’s formation and strategy. Disaster struck though for Spurs after Son had lost the ball down the left flank when he should have done better. City sent a long ball towards the Spurs area, and sweeper-keeper Lloris had come outside his area and was obliged to try and head clear. His attempted clearance was gifted to Sane, who had an easy conversion to make. Five minutes later, City went two up in similar circumstances, Sterling crossed, and Lloris failed to hold, spilling the ball to the feet of De Bruyne, who gleefully finished.
At last Spurs managed a shot on target and that was a vital goal. Dele Alli had started the move with an attempted pass for Harry Kane who missed the ball, which ran to Kyle Walker. Walker crossed and Dele Alli headed home to put Spurs back in the hunt. Toby Alderweireld had to go off, apparently with a twinge that will not cause long-term worry. He was replaced by Harry Winks and Wanyama fell back to the centre of the defence. De Bruyne seemed to be guilty of a very late challenge on Danny Rose, but got no card from referee Andre Marriner. There was a good Spurs move from right to left through Son and Dembele to Rose on the left before Rose’s attempt went just wide.
The most controversial moment of the game came when Sterling was sent clear and Kyle Walker chased behind, and gave Sterling a nudge in the back as he entered the area. Sterling stayed on his feet and Lloris saved his shot. The referee saw no offence and to be honest from my position at the opposite end, I cannot offer any judgement. The bottom line is that City were made to pay in the harshest terms when Spurs equalised in the 77th minute. Christian Eriksen (sadly not noticed for much of the game) passed inside from the right. Harry Kane made his most (and maybe his only) telling contribution of the game with a clever back-heel to Son who hit a great finish just inside Bravo’s right post. Son might be a bit light-weight, but he certainly pops up with some vital goals at times. This was a goal from which City never recovered, and in the closing stages Spurs even looked as if they might snatch all three points. Substitute Gabriel de Jesus did have the ball in the net in his first City game after De Bruyne’s cross, but the offside flag had been raised.
It was a great result for Spurs and the day had already been a good one following Liverpool’s home defeat by Swansea (inspired by former Spurs’ Tom Carroll and Gylfi Sigurdsson’s winner), in addition to Man Utd having to settle for a draw at Stoke. Spurs retained second place and Man City remain out of the top four. However, we must anticipate an Arsenal win over Burnley to take them up to second tomorrow, whilst Chelsea are surely likely to beat Hull and increase their lead in the race for the Premier League title.
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