SATURDAY 13TH FEBRUARY, 2021
MANCHESTER CITY 3(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0)
Rodri (pen), 23
Gundogan, 50, 66
Referee:- Paul Tierney
Assistants:- Lee Betts, Ian Hussin
Fourth official:- Craig Pawson
VAR:- Peter Bankes
Assistant VAR:- Neil Davies.
Man City (4-3-3):- Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Bernardo Silva, Rodri, Gundogan (sub Torres, 69); Foden, Gabriel Jesus (sub Mahrez, 79), Sterling (Capt.)
Subs not used:- Steffen; Walker, Ruben Dias, Mendy, Garcia; Doyle; Aguero
Booked:- Bernardo Silva (foul on Davies)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Tanganga, Sanchez, Dier, Davies; Ndombele (sub Dele, 64), Hojbjerg; Lamela (sub Bale, 72), Lucas Moura (sub Sissoko, 46), Son; Kane
Subs not used:- Hart; Doherty, Alderweireld; Winks, Bergwijn; Vinicius
Booked:- Lamela (foul on Cancelo), Dier (foul on Gabriel Jesus), Davies (foul on Mahrez)
Let's face it. City are a class (and half a billion pounds) apart
It's a ritual I go through. Before the game I write and publish a preview which a few of you might have read. Yesterday I asked "Should we fear the worst?" I foolishly hoped for something out of this game from our boys. I felt quite relaxed before the game, because I didn't truly expect anything. As I watched, I got more and more frustrated about the one-way traffic; the inability really of our team to truly compete; the gift of a penalty to give City the lead, and ultimately our dismal failure. Jose Mourinho said nothing of the sort. He praised his team who he said had early control. Ha! Ever since the defeat at Anfield, I've noticed that Jose has often fallen into gibberish and riddles.
Let's face it. City are a class (and half a billion pounds) apart. They have now won 16 consecutive games in all competitions. Spurs were actually the last team to beat them, 20 wins and 3 draws ago, back in November, when we were challenging (oh yes we were!) for the Premier League title. Now what? We are in the League Cup Final, but that is against City, so what chance do we have there? On the plus side, City are not in the Europa League, so there's our chance.
Serge Aurier did not make it through his late fitness checks, so Japhet Tanganga made his first Premier League appearance of the season. Japhet can perhaps take it as a compliment that Raheem Sterling switched places with Phil Foden for the easier task of getting past Ben Davies. Tanganga was getting assistance from his colleagues, who inevitably spent most of the time in their own half, desperately trying to keep City away from their goal, where I am afraid to say Hugo did not cover himself with glory today. City’s subs included ace defenders Kyle Walker (there’s a familiar name), £65 million defender Ruben Dias, Riyad Mahrez and a certain Sergio Aguero.
Davinson Sanchez got the nod for another game, but Jose replaced Toby Alderweireld with Eric Dier. Sanchez made the biggest error of the night.
Spurs kicked off but within two minutes, City had won a corner. From which Rodri headed over the target. City were bossing possession and their average position was predominantly in our half, but we were preventing them getting other direct chances early on. Lamela tried to find Son, but failed, and Harry Kane did make a run down the left channel, finding himself blocked by three defenders at the edge of the City area. Generally, our attempts to attack were too slow (allowing City to get behind the ball) and too easily read. City on the other hand, moved forward swiftly, passing accurately and more effectively, threatening us with every move. Ndombele also made a good run from his own half, but he too was blocked by a strong defence.
Spurs did have a free kick after 12 minutes when Kane was fouled by Laporte. Harry took this (from 20 yards out) and it was a good kick and our best chance of the whole game when he got the ball over the left side of the wall, hitting Ederson’s left post with the keeper flailing. The ball bounced away from goal and was cleared with Lucas Moura trying to follow up. Five minutes later Spurs attacked down the left and the move ended with a pass by Son to Kane who stabbed a left-footed shot from the left edge of the box. This was off target.
Zinchenko tried a shot from 25 yards, but that too was well over. After 20 minutes referee Paul Tierney had no hesitation pointing to the spot when Hojbjerg clipped Gundogan. Mourinho later called it a “modern penalty” where any contact often wins a spot kick. Hojbjerg didn’t have to make the challenge. City have a history of poor penalties this season and this time it was Rodri who stepped up to the plate (sorry spot). His kick wasn’t great and Hugo did get a hand to the shot to his right, but the ball flew up and into the net.
Son had a free kick cleared after 25 minutes. Generally, Spurs spent too much time passing backwards and sideways. As usual, it was not fun to watch. City just do not play the same way. In fact, not many teams do, and I find that distressing. Bernardo Silva took a pass from Cancelo and hit a left-footed shot which was deflected and went to Lloris’s hands.
Lamela and Jesus had a tussle and Lamela had clearly been fouled first, but he was the one penalised. Spurs were now struggling to play out from the back. I was shouting “Boot it down the field!” (or something like that). Sterling got past Davies with ease and pulled the ball back to Gundogan, whose shot was well blocked by Sanchez. Gabriel Jesus’s follow-up went out off the top of the bar. In added time Cancelo came in from his right flank but his final shot was well over.
Mourinho replaced Lucas Moura with Sissoko after the break, allowing Ndombele to get forward – well, closer to the half-way line at least. City kicked off and Spurs did spend a lot of time on the ball, but they were getting nowhere. City on the other hand attacked and scored with ease in the 50th minute. Sterling had made or been allowed a run from right to left across the edge of the Spurs area. He found Gundogan inside the area to his left and Gundogan scored his 10th Premier League goal since mid-December with left-footed shot which was close to Lloris but beat the keeper’s attempt to save with his right hand close to his body.
Harry Kane found Ndombele with a pass and he cut in from the left of the box before hitting a shot which took a strong deflection and fell nicely into Ederson’s hands.
"Spurs have 4 men forward" said Martin Tyler. "Don’t worry. We'll pass it back, said I", and we did. This was not fun. Ndombele was replaced by Dele Alli. Gundogan had his eleventh league goal in the 66th minute and the assist goes to goalkeeper Ederson who hit a mammoth ball. I thought that Sanchez had gifted the ball to Gundogan, but Gundogan had taken delivery, controlled and scored to the left of Lloris, as Sanchez stumbled helplessly to the ground.
Had they been allowed in the ground, many Spurs fans would have left at this point, and they would not have missed much Spurs action. After a City corner and a good pass by Sterling to Foden, young Phil hit a powerful shot but straight to Lloris. Gareth Bale came on for Erik Lamela. Son went down after a clash with Cancelo, but was able to carry on.
Bale did show a flash of his old self ten minutes from the end, receiving a header from Kane before advancing and getting past three defenders with a little run before his shot was blocked. Foden and Sterling threatened at the other end. Foden was on the left of the Spurs area and passed to Sterling who ran a little to his right before hitting a shot which looked like goal number four, but was saved by Hugo’s leg. Next up was Bernardo Silva, whose left foot effort was held. I so wanted the referee to end my pain, but I endured the three minutes of added time.
If you got this far, thanks for reading. There’s nearly 24 years of this on Spurs Odyssey you know. I’m hoping to make it 25 before giving up the ghost. Our next game is the Europa League Round of 32 first leg against Austrian Wolfsberger. This will be played in Budapest next Thursday due travel restrictions imposed in the Covid crisis. “See” you then?
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