Spurs vs Man City: How to tackle the Citizens

Spurs vs Man City is next up for us in the Premier League, so we look at how to tackle the Citizens.

Manuel Pellegrini brings his sky blue juggernaut to White Hart Lane for Spurs vs Man City this weekend. The Citizens are top of the table and looking to take back their Premier League crown having raced in to an early lead.

So, what can we expect and just how do you go about breaking down the Citizens?

Where Man City allow chances

Man City have only conceded twice in the Premier League and both goals came in one match. They have been extremely well-drilled defensively, but one age-old problem remains. That is the one of Alexander Kolorov in the left back zone. The Serbian is having an excellent season going forward, but due to his attacking nature, his defensive positioning can and has been exposed.

Take Man City’s last away match in the Premier League, a 1-0 victory with a last minute goal against Crystal Palace. The Eagles gave Man City plenty to think about and they did it by trying to get Yannick Bolasie in-behind Alexander Kolorov.


Crystal Palace chances created against Man City.

Bolasie was a real threat to create chances by getting beyond the left back to cross, shoot or pull the ball back all game.

Here Yohan Cabaye found him so that he could run in-behind and drill a shot that was tipped away by Joe Hart.


Cabaye gets Bolasie beyond Kolorov.

Later Jason Puncheon found him beyond the Serbian once more and his pull back went to Yohan Cabaye for a shot.


Puncheon puts Bolasie in.

In Man City’s last match West Ham served them their first loss. The Hammers were also looking to get players in to Kolorov’s zone and then run off the back of him.

Here Dimitri Payet picks out Diafra Sakho who runs off Kolorov and in-behind. Note how West Ham also have Carl Jenkinson in space as they overloaded this area. Payet went for the perfectly weighted through ball and Sakho should’ve scored when 1v1 against Joe Hart.


Payet gets Sakho in-behind Kolorov.

Later and Jenkinson did get in on the action. Victor Moses found him running in-behind Kolorov, which pulled Mangala out, exposing two of the Man City back four.


Moses puts Jenkinson in-behind in the City LB zone.

Jenkinson’s cross just evaded Sakho’s lunge for the ball this time. However, the West Ham right back was involved in their second goal. This saw Jenkinson get beyond Kolorov and fire in a cross that was cleared, but the Serbian couldn’t keep the resulting loose ball in play. A corner was given and the Hammers added a second after a scramble.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Man City should look to get runners in-behind Kolorov. This is especially true when he goes forward and can’t recover his defensive position in time.

Breaking the City back line

Since Manuel Pellegrini has taken over at Man City he has installed a tactic whereby the defence will use the edge of the box as a marking line to play offside. This is usually done when the ball reaches the final third or is moved wide in to a crossing position.

An excellent example of it was here against Everton. James McCarthy has the ball looking to swing a cross in and although he finds Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian is caught offside.


Man City use 18-yard box line to play offside.

Later in the same game and City are all up using the edge of the box as a mark again. Steven Naismith is caught offside this time.


Man City using penalty area line to play offside.

This is an effective tactic, but also a dangerous one. Had Naismith timed his run better then he would’ve been in, just like Ryan Mason did in our Match with Man City at the Etihad last season.

Mason was able to break this line on the edge of the box as Roberto Soldado found him, but he couldn’t convert.


City set on the edge of the box as Soldado finds Mason.

Recognising and breaking City’s 18-yard line tactic is something smarter runners do. It can leave them highly exposed to 1v1s against their keeper if the opponent can time their third man runs correctly. In Son, Lamela and Chadli we have plenty of options that can do this in Spurs vs Man City on Saturday.

Blocking off the inside channels

Man City are a powerhouse going forward and they look to create chances in three main ways.

The first is to get in to the inside channels where they can play through balls. They look to get in to the pockets of space between the lines and then pick short passes through their opponent for a runner to latch on to. Sergio Aguero’s pass to set up Kevin de Bruyne’s goal against West Ham was a good example of this.


Aguero finds De Bruyne through the inside channels to score.

David Silva is the best exponent with his ability to ghost in to pockets of space between the lines and tee-up teammates.

The second is to look for the early runs of Sergio Aguero. This can see Man City move the ball from back to front very quickly as they try to find the Argentinean’s darting runs off the centre backs to take advantage of his initial bursts of pace.

The third is to use the powerful runs of both Yaya Toure and Fernandinho. These chances usually come about during transitions where the Ivorian or the Brazilian can get on the ball and drive forward to unleash a shot.

Teams that have done well against Man City will often defend deeper and play on the counter attack. This takes away the space between the lines, limits Aguero’s effectiveness to run in-behind and reduces the transitional opportunities for Toure to charge forward with the ball, work up a head of steam and shoot.

West Ham had to survive an onslaught but did this very well. They rarely recovered the ball in the Man City half, but did defend the middle, forcing Man City wide.


West Ham ball recoveries against Man City.

Juventus are the other team to beat Man City and they too played a counter attacking game. They were very good at condensing the space between the lines in their half. However, they also pressed down their right to get at Alexander Kolorov.


Juventus ball recoveries against Man City.

Juventus’ winning goal came from sending a long ball forward that bounced off the back of Kolorov while he was running towards his own goal trying to recover his position. Alvaro Morata picked it up and curled an exquisite left foot shot perfectly in off the post.

Both of these games were at the Etihad, so I would expect Spurs at home to play a more attack-minded game rather than a counter attacking style. That being said, there is evidence to show that this can work. This is especially true when you consider how we’ve been playing the ball around at the back to negate the oppositions pressing; then moving it forward once they have tired from chasing and are out of position.

West Ham created their first goal and had good early success against Man City by doing just this. They passed it around at the back and once Man City’s light pressure was dropped from too much chasing, West Ham moved the ball quickly forward. This saw Victor Moses open the scoring.


Passing map of Victor Moses goal vs Man City.

Spurs vs Man City outlook

This will be the toughest test of the season so far. Man City will be looking to get their Premier League title challenge back on track, whilst we need to keep putting points on the board if we are to have any hope of reaching the top four.

The key battleground to who wins this match will come in midfield where Eric Dier and Dele Alli will take on Yaya Toure and Fernandinho. Both sets of players are big, strong and powerful. Whoever can gain the upper hand will control the flow of the game.

Getting beyond Aleksander Kolorov is the area to attack and so the choice of players on our right will be key to any chance of taking three points here. If we can get at this zone effectively then we could be in for a good afternoon.

Spurs vs Man City prediction: Spurs 1-1 Man City.

Spurs vs Man City betting

Draw at 14/5 with BetVictor.
HT/FT: Man City/Draw at 17/1 with BetVictor.
Eric Dier booked at 5/2 with Betfair.

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3 Responses to Spurs vs Man City: How to tackle the Citizens

  1. Reinert 25th September 2015 at 10:03 pm #


    COYS :)

  2. anotherwisemonkey 26th September 2015 at 10:53 am #

    Dier looked tired in the first half against Arsenal, but injuries mean no chance of a rest. He will have to be immense as will the whole defence. Davies is there to be exploited if he is selected, as expected. That said, Alli could cause all sorts of problems. I’d drop Chadli for Eriksen here. Son and Lamela have earned starts. COYS.

  3. James Bailey 27th September 2015 at 3:02 am #

    If you’d have guaranteed me a draw before this one started, I might have taken it gladly. Even more so when we went down 1-0. But I kept thinking about the Chelsea game last year, when we put up 5 on the top club in the league. And why shouldn’t we be able to do so again this year? I didn’t (and still don’t) get all the people figuring we should drop off this year and have no shot at the top 4. We finished 5th last year, and all we’ve done since is shed the dead wood and shore up the weak spots. There’s no way this roster isn’t better than last year’s, so why all the nay saying? And then we started slow and couldn’t put anyone away, and … I still figured we were better than that.

    Today proves it. Pochettino seems so confident in what he’s building, and with good reason. Though I must admit I thought he was insane to kill the Lamela deal last month. That seemed to be the one deadline deal we had to be happy about, and Poch nixed it because we needed another warm body. Well, turns out maybe he saw something there that we didn’t. Lamela was fantastic today. He had played very well at times recently. Even with other quality options available (Chadli, Clinton) he DESERVED to start today. And he may someday soon put to rest the belief that he’s good enough for Europa games and nothing more. I’m happy for him, and proud of these guys. It’s so fun to watch them play and get better with every game. We won’t win every time out, but we are capable of beating anyone in the league. And you know they know that.

    As for the top 4, looks like Chelsea’s grip on their pre-ordained spot is loose at best. Why not Spurs? COYS