SATURDAY 14TH APRIL, 2018
(7.45pm at Wembley)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(1) MANCHESTER CITY 3(2)
Man City scorers:-
Gundogan, 25 (pen)
Attendance:- 80, 811
Referee:- Jonathan Moss
Assistants:- Simon Bennett, Andy Halliday
Fourth official:- Stuart Attwell
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele (sub Lucas Moura, 73); Lamela (sub Son, 64), Eriksen, Dele (sub Sissoko, 84); Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Aurier; Wanyama; Sterling
Booked:- Lloris (foul on Sterling, conceding penalty), Davies (foul on Kompany), Dembele (foul on De Bruyne)
Man City (4-3-3); Ederson; Walker, Kompany (Capt.), Laporte, Delph; De Bruyne (sub Toure, 89), Gundogan, David Silva; Sterling, Jesus (sub Bernardo Silva, 76), Sane (sub Otamendi, 64)
Subs not used:- Bravo; Zinchenko; Foden; Diaz
Booked:- De Bruyne (foul on Vertonghen), Jesus (prevented free kick from being taken), Kompany (foul on Son), Delph (foul on Lucas Moura)
City nearly over the Title line. Spurs well beaten.
The masses (over 80,000 of them) flocked to Wembley, even for a 7.45pm Saturday night kick-off, hoping to see Pep Guardiolaís Manchester City side vanquished for fourth consecutive time. That was not to be as City were allowed by most of the Spurs team to dominate proceedings, ending Spursí 14 match unbeaten Premier League run (it had started after the away defeat to City in December) with a two goal win Ė or should that be by two lengths in Grand National terms. City have been winning the title by a distance for much of the season, but faltered last week at home to Manchester United in between being knocked out of the Champions League by Liverpool.
Harry Kane (whose appeal to be awarded Eriksenís second goal last week against Stoke was granted by The Premier League ) did not get a look in, and he has a job on his hands to catch Salah who is now five goals ahead in the race for the Golden Boot. Kaneís lack of impact was partly because of a lack of service from his team-mates (prevented by City successfully flooding the middle of the park), but also very much because City captain Vincent Kompany was so much on top of him throughout. Cityís formation looked gung-ho to me in the first half, with only Kompany and Laporte at the back and even Walker and Delph in front of them to assist the attacking force of Cityís front six. Those who crave a return for Toby Alderweireld (and maybe he will play against Brighton on Tuesday) must have been encouraged by the fact that Sanchez got caught out playing the high line all too often against the pace of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling. Only Jan Vertonghen (and he was simply magnificent again today) offered sterling resistance to the multiple City attacks.
Spurs are still in fourth place of course, but they are a full twenty points behind City. They have also fallen further behind Liverpool and will probably be three more points behind Manchester United after todayís game against West Brom. Chelsea came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Southampton to draw within seven points, but we do still need nine points from our remaining five games to secure Champions League football. The table does not lie regarding our status behind City, United and Liverpool.
Whilst he is the more reliable of our two right backs, I was a little surprised to see Trippier selected for this game, as I thought the pace of Aurier would be beneficial against City. That said, Trippier didnít do too badly against Sane. Eric Lamela was given the nod over Son Heung-min, but only when Lucas Moura replaced Dembele after Cityís third goal did we look anything like an attacking force. Lucas surely deserves a game at Brighton.
There was an early warning sign for Spurs after only three minutes when Sterling crossed and Saneís shot rebounded off the post with Lloris beaten. Dele Alli received a good ball from Eric Dier after seven minutes and got into the box on the left-hand side, but his shot was blocked and Spurs won a corner. Spurs failed with that corner, and City countered with the speed of Sterling, who had space on the left, hitting a right foot shot which he pushed wide of Llorisís left post. David Silva brought the ball out of Cityís half and passed to De Bruyne, whose right foot shot flew miles too high.
The warning signs had been there but Spurs were not helped by Dembele losing the ball in the middle after a Spurs free kick. Sterling attacked down the right and crossed. Gundogan shot, and Dembele redeemed himself by blocking the ball, conceding a corner. I noticed the Sky spider camera was busy at the Spurs end. It became even busier in the 22nd minute when Jesus was behind Sanchez running onto Kompanyís long ball before he beat Lloris low to his left. Things got even worse for Spurs when Lloris was penalised at the expense of a penalty and a booking when he chased out of his area to bring down Sterling. I say chased out of the area, because replays apparently show the offence did take place outside the box. No matter, Lloris was sent the wrong way when Gundogan scored to his left. Spurs had a mountain to climb.
Sanchez did do well to block Sane as he broke for goal, and Spurs had a shot of their own when Eriksen crossed but Lamelaís shot was outside the post. David Silva was the provider for Sane, but Lloris did save this shot for a corner. Dembele and Vertonghen won rousing cheers for their battling win of the ball off Kyle Walker, whose role has been more restrained for City of late, being given more defensive duties. Lamela tried to get the ball to Dele in the City area, but Spurs were finding this a no go zone. A City free kick taken by Sane flew over the Spurs goal. De Bruyne got booked for a crunching foul on Jan Vertonghen, who was finding time to try and inspire a Spurs attack or two, along with his defensive duties. Spurs did get back on terms at least two minutes before half-time, when Kane found Eriksen on the left of the City area. Eriksenís first shot was blocked and seemed to ricochet into the City net when it rebounded to his feet.
So Spurs had some hope at least for the second half. Whilst Guardiola was constantly active in his technical area, I donít recall seeing Pochettino get off his bench once during the first half.
Eriksen had an early free kick after the break, but this was too high and City had a free kick anyway. At least Spurs looked more fired up now and were putting in the sort of effort we had needed in the first half. Dele and Eriksen batted into the box and hoped for a penalty without success. Dele did need treatment after being challenged.
After 63 minutes Sanchez was again caught out when Jesus got goal-side of him from Gundoganís pass. Luckily for Spurs, Gabriel pushed his shot wide. Sane was replaced by Otamendi, which was an interesting defender for an attacker switch, with Guardiola perhaps now looking to consolidate his teamís position. Lamela was replaced by Son. Sterling had a shot blocked and then held by Lloris after David Silva had put him in. Referee Jon Mossís yellow card was seen more often now with Kompany booked for crunching Son, and Dembele also seeing yellow for unfairly stopping De Bruyne.
Lloris could only parry a shot by Sterling before Trippier came to Spursí rescue conceding a corner. Cityís third goal soon followed though as Jesusís shot was saved but not held and Sterling followed up. All too late Lucas Moura replaced Dembele and at least showed his running dribbling and passing skills, giving City more to think about. Many Spurs fans were already heading for the tube though, as they saw all too clearly which way this game was going, or indeed had gone.
There was a race for the Spurs goal between Sterling and Sanchez. It looked as if Sterling would win, but Sanchez came back to win the race and concede a corner. Now Guardiola switched another attacker for a defender (albeit an attacking player) when Jesus went off for Bernardo Silva. Delph was booked for stopping Lucas Miura in his tracks. Subsequently Lucas came in from the right and fed the ball to Dele whose shot was deflected for a corner. That was almost Deleís last touch as he was replaced by Sissoko. A great diagonal ball from Vertonghen reached Lucas on the right. He crossed and Eriksenís shot was saved. Lucas had a shot saved in added time after a Kane header, but the game was up for Spurs by now.
Manchester City could be the only team to beat Spurs at home and away this season. Leicester could still do that on the last day of the Premier League season, but hopefully that will not happen, and by then we will have secured that Champions League place. We will need to play a lot better than we did today to succeed in next Saturdayís FA Cup semi-final against the other team from Manchester.
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