SUNDAY 15TH AUGUST, 2021
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0) MANCHESTER CITY 0(0)
Referee:- Anthony Taylor
Assistants:- Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth official:- Craig Pawson
VAR:- Stuart Attwell
Assistant VAR:- Constantine Hatzidakis.
Spurs (4-3-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Tanganga (sub Doherty, 83), Sanchez, Dier, Reguilon; Hojbjerg (sub Romero, 90), Skipp, Dele; Lucas Moura, Son, Bergwijn (sub Lo Celso, 77)
Subs not used:- Gollini; Davies; Winks, Gil, Sissoko; Scarlett
Booked:- Lucas Moura (preventing free kick after foul on Grealish), Sanchez (Unsporting conduct)
Man City (4-1-2-3):- Ederson; Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Ake, Mendy (sub Zinchenko, 79); Fernandinho (Capt.); Gundogan, Grealish; Mahrez (sub De Bruyne, 79), Torres, Sterling (sub Gabriel Jesus, 70)
Subs not used:- Steffen; Walker, Stones, Laporte; Rodri, Bernardo Silva
Booked:- Grealish (foul on Lucas Moura)
Were you watching Harry Kane?
The pre-match talk was dominated inevitably by the name of Harry Kane who was absent from proceedings. By the end of the game the overjoyed Spurs fans were singing “Are you watching Harry Kane” as the Spurs team deservedly beat City, whose fans had also sung about Kane early in the game. Those visiting fans were noticeably quiet in the second half, as Spurs excited the 58,262 crowd with a magnificent performance, full of energy, effort, running, movement and skill. It was a very refreshing experience for the fans who had not been permitted to attend The Lane in such numbers since March 4th 2020. That was a disappointing FA Cup defeat to lowly Norwich. Today we had surely the best home experience and atmosphere since – well, since February 2nd 2020 when we beat Manchester City 2-0!
I wrote in my match preview:- “Last year's 2-0 home win against City (November 21st 2020) was thanks to goals by Son (who has signed a new contract with Spurs) and Giovani Lo Celso. That was City's third game at our new stadium. They have lost all three games, and have failed to score in each game. Heung-min Son has scored in each of those games.” Now Pep’s men have lost four at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and “Sonny” has scored in all of those games! This recent record puts me in mind of how we were a genuine bogey team to City before the influx of the Arab money. Since then, of course, City have become far more formidable opponents.
Two of those four home wins have been achieved without Harry Kane, and we also won a game at the old stadium without Harry in October 2016. Steven Bergwijn scored in his home debut on February 2nd 2020 and should have scored in this game to make it another 2-0 win. That miss apart, every member of this team gave an excellent performance and new coach Nuno Espirito Santo deserves great credit for his achievement. He has managed a successful pre-season in which his team has predominantly played a 4-3-3 with Lucas Moura, Son and Bergwijn an effective front three. They were once again very strongly supported by Hojbjerg, Oliver Skipp and Dele Alli. Last season Hojbjerg played every minute of every Premier League game. He won’t do that this season, as he went off just before added time and was replaced by new boy Cristian Romero, who got a great reception.
Another player who received a rousing standing ovation was Japhet Tanganga, given the nod at right back where he faced the dual challenge of Raheem Sterling and £100 million signing Jack Grealish. Japhet had given everything and had great success against Sterling (who was substituted) and Grealish who was neutralised for much of the game. Grealish’s frustration was expressed in a mad foul on Lucas Moura late in the game which saw him booked.
Oliver Skipp was in the Championship team of the year last season and got Nuno’s vote to start today. Skipp seems to built up considerable muscle in that year and he too demonstrated great determination and success in the tackle. I noted a tackle in the second half that we would never have seen from unused substitute Harry Winks. Hojbjerg was granted the same sort of licence as seen in the Euros with Denmark when he would often support the attack.
I anticipated that Guardiola would field a slightly weakened team (in relative terms) with most of his Euro and Copa America stars held back. Walker, Stones, Laporte, Rodri and Bernardo Silva never got off the bench. Foden was absent injured, but De Bruyne did get on the field late in the game, as did Zinchenko.
36-year-old Fernandinho, given another year’s contract, must have won the toss because Spurs were turned round and played towards their home South Stand in the first half. Spurs kicked off but Grealish won an early free kick just outside the box. Grealish has a record of being the most-fouled player in the Premier League. He certainly falls over a lot, as we all know! Gundogan took the kick which passed over the goal, taking a touch on the way to win a corner. After the corner, Fernandinho flicked the ball across goal. The ball was not claimed by Lloris, but ultimately headed wide. Spurs responded with an attack down the right ending with a shot by Lucas which also passed wide.
Sterling got into the Spurs box after 10 minutes and won a corner after Skipp’s tackle. Skipp wanted a goal kick. After the corner, Mahrez came off best against Dele and got a shot on target, but this was held by Hugo, for whom the shot was not a great test. Tanganga won a personal battle against Sterling bringing the ball out down the right flank, and was awarded a free kick by referee Anthony Taylor. Mr Taylor probably upset both sets of players and fans at different times, but he generally tried to let the game flow and his apparent leniency favoured Spurs towards the end of the game.
Spurs made a powerful break after 20 minutes with Hojbjerg passing from the right to Bergwijn whose shot from the left of the area took a strong deflection and won a corner. “Sonny” was our dead ball man for most of the game. He took a free kick 30 yards out midway through the half which was headed across the area and hit by Lucas towards goal, but comfortably held by Ederson. Lucas was strong in another Spurs attack, and would often be seen deep in his own half battling for the ball – winning it too. This attack was thwarted by an offside flag. Bergwijn led another attack down the left and gave “Sonny” a good pass. This attack fizzled out. Tanganga blocked a Grealish shot at the other end.
Sterling teed up Mahrez, but the former Leicester man hit a poor shot, to hoots of derision from the Spurs fans. Mr Taylor had words with Hugo Lloris who had raced out 40 yards for the interaction. The referee seemed to be giving advice regarding Tanganga’s challenge, but there was no card. There was frustration when Sanchez sent Bergwijn clear but Cancelo managed to clear. Another Spurs attack gave Son a chance. He hit a right foot shot just wide, and wanted a corner, but goal-kick was the decision. Tanganga was proving effective in attack too, finding Son and Lucas with his cross. Son fired over after Lucas’s final pass. Grealish was blocked and Fernandinho hit a long range effort wide.
City kicked off the second half, playing away from their own fans. Dele made a good interception and sent Hojbjerg away. He got all the way to the right side of the box but his cross/shot was cleared. Spurs broke forward from another City attack with Reguilon crossing to Lucas, who hit a shot wide of goal. Another Spurs attack had potency but the final pass or touch was just lacking. Finally they took the lead with another great Son goal. The front three had been moving forward together and Bergwijn gets the assist for the final pass. “Sonny” was towards the right of the edge of the box and moved to his left before beating Ederson with a well-placed shot just inside the keeper’s right post! The stadium went wild!
A shot by right back Cancelo passed wide of Lloris’s right post. It should have been 2-0 after 59 minutes as Son was out fast and teed up Bergwijn who surely had the beating of the goalkeeper but managed to push his shot wide. He was using his weaker left foot. Dele made a great winning challenge on Mahrez and Spurs were on the attack again. Lucas passed for Son, but Ederson was out and wise to that one.
Lucas Moura was shown the first yellow card of the game. After the free kick, Mahrez, Gundogan and Cancelo were all involved but the final cross failed. Sterling was replaced by Gabriel Jesus who seemed to take up Sterling’s position whilst Ferran Torres was in the middle. Grealish received a ball from the left and did hit a shot on target, but this again was quite comfortable for Hugo Lloris, who incidentally, equalled Darren Anderton’s 299 Premier League appearances in this game. Lo Celso replaced Bergwijn and took up his left side position before Guardiola made his final throw of the dice putting on both De Bruyne and Zinchenko.
Son went close with a right foot shot after a free kick taken by Hojbjerg, but Ederson just got a touch to concede a corner. Tanganga went off and left the field in front of the East Stand, thus earning a magnificent ovation and chants of “He’s one of our own!” as he walked around the stadium. How he deserved the acclaim and will have loved it!
Lloris made a good save getting down to his left from De Bruyne’s shot. Hugo also saved from Torres after De Bruyne’s pass. The fans now sensed victory and sang “Are you watching Harry Kane?”. Spurs saw out the four minutes of added time and had a great start to the season under their belts. Next up is a trip to Portugal next Thursday for a Conference League play-off before Nuno make an early return to Molineux next Sunday. It’s great to be back!
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