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Spurs v Man City, 29.10.18

(8pm - at Wembley)

Mahrez, 6

Attendance:- 56,854

Referee:- Kevin Friend
Assistants:- Stuart Burt, Matthew Wilkes
Fourth official:- Andre Marriner

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies; Dier (sub Winks, 67), Dembele (sub Dele, 75); Sissoko, Lamela, Lucas Moura (sub Eriksen, 81); Kane

Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Aurier, Walker-Peters; Son

Booked:- Lucas Moura (simulation), Davies (foul on Sterling)

Man City (4-1-4-1):- Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy; Fernandinho; Mahrez (sub Gabriel Jesus, 90+2), Bernardo Silva, David Silva (Capt) (sub Kompany, 89), Sterling; Aguero (sub De Bruyne, 71)
(Armband to Kompany)

Subs not used:- Muric; Otamendi; Sane, Foden

Booked:- Laporte (foul on Sissoko), Fernandinho (foul on Lucas Moura)

City on another level

It’s an obvious statement really. With this win, Manchester City remain unbeaten along with Liverpool and Chelsea and they returned to the top of the table where those three teams will surely be the ones to contest the title. Spurs have already lost at “home” to two of those teams, and when they next face Premier League opposition at Wembley it will be against the third of those teams – Chelsea. Perhaps on a Saturday evening there will be a bigger crowd at Wembley, which contained no more than 56,854 last night. The Premier League’s 100th game of this season was not a memorable occasion, played as it was on a threadbare Wembley pitch, still prominently bearing the markings (and scars apparently) of the weekend’s NFL action. Last season’s corresponding fixture was played in front of over 80,000. Clearly a lot of Spurs fans are voting with their feet to stay at home, especially when the game is televised. Many are tired with the prospect of travelling across London to Wembley, and tired of the wait till 2019 for our new stadium to open.

The game was preceded by an immaculate silence for both Remembrance Day and for the tragic death of Leicester Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (and four other passengers in his helicopter) at the weekend.

Mauricio Pochettino’s team selection was of interest with both Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen held on the bench. I assume that this (together with those substituted) heralds a strong team for the League Cup tie at The London Stadium tomorrow night, with Dier being replaced three quarters of the way into the game, and Son not being called upon.

Last night’s game was of most interest to those in attendance of course, and we went one down in the sixth minute, thanks to errors by Kieran Trippier which allowed the ball to run over his head and Sterling to take it to the bye-line on the left. Sterling teed up Mahrez in the middle of goal, and the former Leicester player (signed in the summer for £60 million) made no mistake. The net spend gap between these two teams since the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino is phenomenal. City have spent over half a billion pounds. Daniel Levy has spent a net £29 million on players. The stadium project obviously has an impact upon that, but Spurs fans now have to worry about whether Pochettino will be enticed away to Real Madrid, who have already sacked their manager.

The City goal had been preceded by good interplay down the right wing, starting in their own half by Trippier, Sissoko and Erik Lamela. Sissoko is currently leading the Spurs Odyssey vote for our man of the match, and deservedly so. Moussa displayed power, speed and skill up and down the right wing, winning several genuine cheers of admiration. Lamela also featured prominently for Spurs, but will be remembered mostly for his awful miss in front of goal in the second half. An NFL bobble on the pitch was blamed for his inaccuracy, which ultimately cost us a point. City were better than their one goal win though really. Like any good team, they always seemed to have more players than us wherever we were on the pitch. In Spurs’ case, as we all know, that was too often in our own half.

Soon after they had taken the lead, City were pinging the ball about with ease before Aguero hit the side netting with his shot. Fed by Lamela, Kane had an early shot which went over the bar and hit a stanchion at the back of the net. A corner by Trippier was met at the near post by Alderweireld, but held by goalkeeper Ederson, who was tested far less than Lloris all night. Toby Alderweireld made a good intervention at the other end when his tackle prevented a shot by Sterling. Sissoko did well deep in his own half and sent a good ball forward to Erik Lamela who was halted by a City foul. Sissoko made good ground down the right but his delivery of a short cross was poor.

Lloris made a save at his near post from Mahrez after 28 minutes following a City move which started (I thought) with Sterling racing onto a ball in an offside position. Dier sent a long ball to Lamela who fed Kane on a forward run. Kane overran the ball and Ederson succeeded with his challenge. The City keeper needed treatment after that due to his collision with Kane. Lloris made an easy save from a David Silva shot, but he had a harder save to make from Sanchez’s powerful header back after a City cross! As half-time approached Lucas Moura was deservedly booked for simulation (not inside the area) after a good move by Lamela and Sissoko.

At half-time Steve Perryman was interviewed at pitch-side and paid tribute to Glenn Hoddle who is recovering in hospital having suffered a heart attack on Saturday.

Three minutes into the second half, Hugo Lloris inexplicably hit a goal kick straight to Aguero, who was fouled just outside the box by Dier. Spurs blocked the free kick and an ensuing cross went out for a goal kick. Spurs had an escape after 54 minutes when David Silva was in front of goal following Bernardo’s cross. David Silva should have scored, but ended up passing sideways to Sterling, whose shot was blocked and cleared by the Spurs defence. Lloris held an Aguero shot after 64 minutes, but the stats tell a sorry tale regarding the ratio of shots on and off target by City which far exceeded those by Spurs. Lloris punched another shot by Aguero clear.

Eric Dier was replaced by Harry Winks, who played well in the middle and will surely start tomorrow. With 20 minutes to go, it looked as if Pep Guardiola’s side was keen to “manage the game”. De Bruyne replaced Aguero, and later Kompany would replace David Silva – also taking the captain’s armband. City were clever with little fouls and use of time. Lamela had one shot wide of goal after a pass by Trippier which had followed some good possession by Spurs, but later his golden (or should I say “goalden”!) chance was presented by Dele Alli but he fired over from inside the area with the goal beckoning. Dele and Lucas Moura had stolen the ball off Mahrez down the left wing.

Lucas Moura was replaced by Eriksen who did get a shot on target from an angle on the left, but it was straight at Ederson.

City saw out the game with two late substitutions but Spurs had wasted their best chance with that Lamela miss – bobble or not. This was the first time Spurs had lost two home games in the same calendar year to the same team since 2005 when Chelsea were our victors. Let’s hope they don’t win again on November 24th. In the meantime, Spurs have plenty of business to complete in three competitions. Let’s hope we can stay in the running in all three!

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