5 things we learned at Tottenham 4-1 Man City
Manchester City struggle without Aguero’s goals
In his previous four games against Tottenham, Sergio Aguero had scored eight goals. Not bad, not bad at all. Four of those came in one match at the Etihad last season.
Manchester City had done rather well against Spurs recently as a result but without Aguero’s goals, things went badly wrong. It emphasised what has been a surprisingly slow start to the season for the Argentine.
Aguero was unable to make his mark on the game, completing only 16 passes before being substituted once Manchester City were 4-1 down. That figure was the lowest of any outfield player who started the game, and lower even than the 18 passes completed by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris.
Aguero did have five shots during the game, but four of them were blocked by a Spurs defence who largely had him where they wanted him. The one shot that did get through forced a save out of Lloris.
Aguero did score in the Capital One Cup in midweek from the penalty spot, but has netted only once in seven league games this season – a startling stat given City’s initial bright start to the campaign.
Hugo Lloris completed more passes than Sergio Aguero during the game
Pellegrini’s second choice defence crumbles
Just eight days ago, Manchester City could proudly boast that they had not conceded a single goal in the Premier League this season. Then came the 2-1 home defeat to West Ham United, then this.
In the end, what was near enough City’s second choice defence was exposed. Neither of the centre-backs who started the season were available because of injury, Eliaquim Mangala ruled out beforehand and Vincent Kompany forced to withdraw from the match after being initially named on the bench.
Goalkeeper Joe Hart was only a substitute because of a back problem, left-back Gael Clichy is also out and Pablo Zabaleta was on the bench as he makes his way back from a knee injury.
Without what you could argue might be City’s strongest back five, the spotlight was on Willy Caballero, Bacary Sagna, Nicolas Otamendi, Martin Demichelis and Aleksandar Kolarov.
They started well enough, with Argentinian duo Otamendi and Demichelis showing grit in the first half. Otamendi made seven clearances before the interval, five of them headed.
But things quickly crumbled once Eric Dier scored Spurs’ equaliser. Caballero might have reacted quicker for that goal and certainly should have done better with Toby Alderweireld’s second, left in no-man’s land as the defender rose above Fernando to head in Erik Lamela’s free-kick.
Both Spurs’ first and third goals might have been ruled out for offside, but City’s defence had fallen apart completely by the time Lamela made it 4-1, with Caballero and Demichelis both scrambling about desperately trying to prevent it. Any control they had over Spurs’ attack had long gone.
In total they only made 21 tackles compared to Spurs’ 28, 16 interceptions compared to Spurs’ 24, 3 blocks compared to Spurs’ 8 and 24 clearances compared to Spurs’ 35.
“We played very well in the first half, we had two or three clear chances,” City boss Manuel Pellegrini said. “After that they scored a clear offside goal, then in the second half they scored from two set pieces, one of them offside, which decided the game. After that they played very well and we played very badly.”
Both sides' defensive displays
Youthful Tottenham can challenge
Spurs fielded the youngest side in the Premier League this season when they beat Crystal Palace last weekend, and Christian Eriksen’s inclusion in place of Nacer Chadli reduced that average age even further in this match, to just above 24. Tottenham started the season slowly but have now won three in a row and this was a return to the sort of form that swept aside Chelsea 5-3 on New Year’s Day.
It reminded everyone that on their day Spurs can outperform anyone in the Premier League. It is just a case of doing it consistently, something that can often be an issue for younger players.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side will have their work cut out to force their way into the top four this season but the youthful nature of their line-up suggest they will continue to get better.
They only actually had 45 per cent possession, completing 292 passes to City’s 364 in total, but they produced the better chances thanks to a real exuberance and dynamism – particularly in the second half.
Performances like this are a strong base to work from, even if their manager was not getting carried away. “We need to keep calm,” Pochettino said. “We are young, after three wins in a row it’s very important for us to believe in our philosophy, but stay calm. Nothing has happened yet, there is a long way ahead.”
How both sides passed the ball
Goal lifts pressure off Kane
There was a smile on the face of England boss Roy Hodgson, watching on from the stand, as Harry Kane finally scored his first Tottenham goal of the season at the ninth time of asking.
Kane had scored two in two for England but his lack of goals at club level was becoming a talking point. Pochettino admitted after the match that he was glad he would not have to field questions on his striker’s goal drought any more. The huge roar around White Hart Lane that greeted the goal told you a lot too, as the popular Kane swept home the rebound after Eriksen’s free-kick had hit the post.
The forward was a constant threat in this match, as Pochettino selected Son Heung-min to play more or less alongside him up front. Kane had 4 shots, getting 3 of them on target. "The goal was very important for him and very important for us,” Pochettino said. “It was great for him to take away the pressure.”
Kane's goal and attacking dashboard
Nothing flat about Erik
Erik Lamela has been much maligned during his time at White Hart Lane. A frustrating talent capable of producing magic or getting the simplest of things wrong, he has largely failed to live up to his £25.8 million price tag so far. But this may well have been one of his best games for Tottenham, and illustrated the player they have at their disposal if they can get him to perform consistently.
Lamela completed 3/3 take-ons, made 10 ball recoveries and provided the delivery for Alderweireld to head home Spurs’ second goal. In total he had 4 shots on goal, being rewarded for his efforts with Spurs’ fourth as he got on the end of Clinton Njie’s pass and took the ball beyond Willy Caballero before firing in. “We are really happy with him,” Pochettino said. “He was fantastic and scored. He worked a lot for the team.”
Erik Lamela scored and put in a man of the match display - here's his goal and attacking display from today