BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 28TH AUGUST, 2011
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) MANCHESTER CITY 5 (2)
Man City scorers:-
Dzeko 34, 41, 55, 90(+3)
Referee:- Mr. P. Dowd
Assistants:- Mr. P. Kirkup & Mr. M. Mullarkey
Fourth Official:- Mr. A. Marriner
Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Friedel; Corluka, Dawson (Capt.), Kaboul, Ekotto; Lennon (sub Defoe, 53), Kranjcar (sub Huddlestone, 46), Modric (sub Livermore, 66), Bale; Van der Vaart; Crouch
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Walker, Bassong; Pavlyuchenko
Booked:- Ekotto, Van der Vaart
Man City (4-4-2):- Hart; Zabaletta (sub Richards, 64), Lescott, Kompany (Capt.), Clichy; Silva, Y. Toure, Barry, Nasri; Aguero (sub Savic, 75), Dzeko
Subs not used:- Pantilimon; Milner, Johnson; Tevez, Balotelli
Booked:- Barry (foul on Van der Vaart), Zabaletta (foul on Bale), Y. Toure (dissent), Savic (entered field without permission)
Spurs cannot and will not compete at this level
North London was blitzed by Manchester today, as United decimated a weakened Arsenal team by an almighty 8-2 at Old Trafford, and Spurs were thrashed 5-1 at home by the nouveau riche Manchester City. That’s an incredible 13-3 aggregate beating for the teams at either end of the Seven Sisters Road, but of course we are only concerned with our beloved Spurs, about whom there is so much that is wrong at this time.
Firstly there is the Modric situation. Apparently Luka was told he had to play today, otherwise he would not be released for International duty this week. After the game, stories were going around that only two hours before the game, the little man’s “head wasn’t right” once again. The evidence on the pitch, before he was replaced after 66 minutes by Jake Livermore, was that Modric’s heart indeed is no longer with Spurs. I am convinced he gave no more than 60 to 70% effort to this game, and having gone on record earlier in the summer as demanding that he should not be sold, I now say that Modric should be sold for all we can get from Chelsea. This was our player of last season, and the man that gave Spurs a heartbeat, making us tick. I loved him more than any other player other than Jimmy Greaves, but now I want to wave him goodbye. I just wish this business had been conducted when the approaches started now, and fear that Modric will be sold in a Berbatov situation, without adequate replacement.
Spurs have far too many injury problems and were without an “enforcer” in the midfield today, where one was so desperately needed. Livermore was probably the only one available, and on the effort he displayed as soon as he came on, winning great applause from the crowd, he should have started in place of Modric. Wilson Palacios is away talking to Stoke apparently, and I’m not sure we are shipping out the right players.
Once again, I have to declare that I am fed up with our Chairman’s brinkmanship, and wish that our squad had been prepared and ready for the start of the season. On the other hand, whilst I accept we cannot compete with the top three (who I predict will be Man Utd, City and Chelsea), and that we will struggle to match Liverpool this time around, I am not despondent about our season, despite bad defeats against the two teams from Manchester, who clearly are THE form sides of the Premier League at this early stage. Our weakened team played well at Old Trafford and today, but heads went down as soon as our opponents scored.
Credit has to be given to City who did give a great display of attacking football, delivering their best win over Spurs at The Lane; their first league win here since 2003; and our biggest home defeat since Chelsea beat us 6-1 in the 97-98 season. That was before Abramovich arrived at Stamford Bridge too. You’ve got to hand it to Sir Alex Ferguson and Man Utd, who alone seem to be able to compete with Sheik Mansour and Abramovich.
Both teams fielded incredibly open sides. In the case of City, it was a considered decision, and Mancini obviously and rightly felt that Spurs were there for the taking. He fielded four attacking players for an away game with Dzeko partnering Aguero up front, and Silva and new signing Nasri either side of them ahead of Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry in the middle. Spurs fans hate Nasri with a passion, as they have witnessed his impish behaviour too often already for Arsenal, but he was lightning today. As for Spurs, they were open because apparently Harry did not have any choice; had a lack of resources; and in one case a definite lack of passion for the cause.
And yet Spurs looked so good for most of the first half, and any football fan would have enjoyed the football on display. It’s only Spurs fans, whose enthusiasm would have diminished as City’s all-stars took hold of the proceedings. From the kick-off Gareth Bale sent Ekotto on a run down the left channel in acres of space. Ekotto hit a lovely cross, which evaded Van der Vaart, but reached Lennon who was beyond the far post and couldn’t get strength or direction on his shot. After 2 minutes, it was Spurs on fire again, as Crouch passed in central midfield to the left to Ekotto, who passed on the ball again down that channel to Kranjcar. Kranjcar had a shot which also passed wide of the post.
However, City always looked dangerous when they came forward, and we knew there would be goals in this game. After 5 minutes, Silva had a shot from 25 yards that Friedel parried. Aguero had a shot blocked, then Nasri’s shot was deflected for a corner. Incidentally, there was no sign of Heurelho Gomes and no explanation for his absence. Harry has though apparently made his choice in Friedel for number one, and the American continues his record run of consecutive Premier League appearances.
Going forward, Ekotto was to the fore for Spurs and he supplied down his own flank and across the field. After 9 minutes, he hit a clever ball to Lennon, who fed to Van der Vaart. Rafa played a trick to keep possession and turn, before hitting a shot that Joe Hart saved for a Spurs corner. Ekotto was the first person in referee Phil Dowd’s book though, for a challenge made after a failed long ball by Dawson gave City the initiative. Mr Dowd wasn’t issuing any warnings today and soon added to his collection of names. After 11 minutes Dzeko fired a warning shot of what was to come, firing his shot wide after City had intercepted in the middle. Silva made a run from the Spurs left flank across the area, and hit a shot which Friedel saved well, conceding another corner.
Barry got carded for a foul on Van der Vaart, as Spurs attacked down the left channel again. Kranjcar ran over the ball, and Van der Vaart hit a good left foot shot, which Hart was able to push around the corner with a dive to his right. Zabaletta was next in the book for bringing Bale down, and Van der Vaart had been prominent in the good Spurs build-up play. Modric got involved in an attack, moving for an Ekotto pass before crossing inside to Van der Vaart, whose shot was blocked.
At the other end Aguero was penalised for handball, and Yaya Toure got a yellow for questioning the referee’s decision. Spurs played some really nice football after 25 minutes, starting from the back, and progressing through Kranjcar’s ball to the right; Corluka and Lennon combining, before Lennon crossed, Crouch headed on, and Bale hit the shot wide of the corner stanchion. Barry hit a 25 yard shot wide, and then Spurs were denied a handball claim in the City area, before the visitors broke in force and Clichy fed the ball back to Nasri, who crossed. Dzeko got in front of Kaboul and was able to prod the ball home. Friedel got a touch, but it wasn’t enough.
Aguero was given another chance after a poor pass by Kranjcar allowed City forward again, but Maradonna’s son-in-law fired wide. Spurs kept their heads up for a while and were still playing dome good attacking football. Ekotto sent Bale away in acres of space, and his powerful cross was met cleanly by a Crouch header that should have been in the net, or at least on target, but was a yard or two wide. That was more or less the end of Spurs’ resistance, and Dzeko and City went two up in the 41st minute from another effective counter attack. It followed a Spurs corner, and again Nasri was the final provider, and Kaboul was the failing defender, as Dzeko headed into the net. Three minutes later, Kaboul gave Dzeko too much space outside the area, and the striker’s right foot shot was patted away by Friedel. Bale made a run in added time, and his shot was deflected for a Spurs corner.
Huddlestone replaced Kranjcar, and it wasn’t long before Lennon was pulling up, and having to be replaced by Defoe. Something must be deeply wrong with the Spurs training methods, as their players keep rolling over with injuries or knocks like nine-pins. It was all so easy for City, and again Dzeko, as they went three up in the 55th minute. Ekotto was on his own on the corner of the box against Silva and Toure. Silva passed the ball around Ekotto, Toure advanced and crossed low for Dzeko to deliver an easy finishing touch. Five minutes later it was 4-0, and skipper Michael Dawson just was not at the races against the advance of Aguero, beating him with ease on the left before firing a left foot goal.
The under-performing Modric went off after 65 minutes, and within minutes of his arrival, Livermore won cheers from the home fans with the sort of effort in the middle that Spurs had been lacking. Livermore’s effort indirectly led to a Spurs corner from which Kaboul headed home a consolation. Defoe also put in a bit of effort, and Hart could only parry his shot following a Spurs throw with 20 minutes left on the clock. Then after 73 minutes, Van der Vaart pulled up with a hamstring injury, and hobbled off and down the tunnel, appearing to kick something in frustration at his injury. Rafa is a player though who makes his own decisions about injury and when he is going off, and with Spurs down to 10 men against thoroughbreds, I couldn’t help hankering after the old days when players used to hobble on for the cause.
Barry committed a foul on Defoe just outside the City area, but received no second yellow from Mr. Dowd, who seemed to have found his lenient side late in the game. Aguero was replaced by another big signing – right back Savic, which led to Micah Richards moving into midfield. Relatively speaking, City now played with caution. They might otherwise have matched the goal tally by the other Manchester team later in the day. Friedel made a good save from Dzeko, but couldn’t stop him in added time, as he went past Ekotto as if he didn’t exist, exchanging with Barry, before firing a great un-stoppable shot past Friedel for his fourth and City’s fifth goal.
Spurs’ pain was finally over, and we now have two weeks off before a visit to Wolves. Perhaps our league season could start then, and perhaps we can compete with last season’s relegation strugglers, who are already 7 points ahead of us.
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