Tottenham tactics: Man City vs Spurs

Man City vs Spurs

After missing out on the chance to climb the table against Wigan, this weekend sees us return to the scene of one our great triumphs as its Man City vs Spurs.

In 2010 we secured Champions League football at the Etihad in one of the most memorable nights in recent Spurs’ history. Whereas last season saw us fall to an unlucky 3-2 defeat in the final few seconds. Jermain Defoe was inches from putting us ahead in stoppage time, only for City to be awarded a last-gasp penalty.

So, could we possibly do the Manchester double this season and knock-off the Premier League champions?

Here are my Tottenham tactics for Man City vs Spurs this Sunday.

The Man City formation and Carlos Tevez

Last season you knew what you were getting with Man City. Roberto Mancini would send his team out in a 4-2-3-1 with Barry and Yaya in front of the defence, whilst Nasri, Tevez, Silva and Aguero would dissect the opposition up front.

This term, Mancini has become the new ‘tinkerman,’ sending out at least 5 different formations and constantly changing his line-up.

Last week at West Ham, we saw him go with three interchangeable forwards in Dzeko, Balotelli and Tevez. The match before against Swansea, he used Aguero up front with a fluid three of Kolorov, Tevez and Nasri behind.

Wherever he plays, Carlos Tevez is the danger man with his ability to work the inside right and left channels. He comes short and also gets up the field looking for through balls, as we can see from Man City’s last two Premier League home games with Sunderland and Swansea.


Carlos Tevez passes received vs Swansea and Sunderland.

With all the changing of line-ups and formations from Mancini, Carlos Tevez has been the one of the few constants for Man City in the Premier League.

What’s more, we may even see City play with three centre backs after Wigan gave us so much trouble with that system last weekend. Mancini’s tinkering with this formation has been well documented and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it here.

Man City chance creation

Man City create chances from everywhere, but balls played through the defence is by far the most common.

City do play narrow and as a result, for all of their possession, they are looking to slide a through ball to a get a high percentage scoring chance rather than cross. They sit 12th in the Premier League for crosses per match with just 22 attempted per game, extremely low from a team that completes over 500 passes.

If we look at their home matches with Arsenal and Swansea, we can see that although they can create chances from many angles, through balls are the most prevalent.


Man City chances created against Arsenal and Swansea.

Press or sit back?

As a result of Man City looking to play passes through the opposition defence to runners on the other side, what would the best Tottenham tactics be?

The answer really depends on whether we want to be aggressive and press or sit back and hit them on the counter. Both tactics have their merits and the two teams who have performed best in the Premier League at the Etihad this season, Arsenal and Swansea, did so in opposite fashions.

Our Woolwich neighbours went there and created a lot of early chances by pressing Man City high up the park. This created turnovers that the wayward shooting Gervinho couldn’t convert.

Swansea on the other hand sat back and played on the counter, with Michu almost scoring several times from quick transitions. Interestingly, a number of their turnovers were created in the inside right channel.


Arsenal and Swansea adopted different tactics, both had a degree of success.

On the road, the Tottenham tactics have been to press opponents in the first half and look to hit them at pace to get in to early leads, as we’ve seen at Old Trafford, St. Mary’s and the Madejski. In the second half, we’ve dropped off and played counter attacking football and I suspect we’ll see that press then sit approach again here.

Tottenham tactics vs Man City conceding chances

Man City’s defence hasn’t been the solid unit that we’ve seen in seasons past. This term they are giving up goals, most notably through the left back area occupied by Gael Clichy and into the middle behind the centre backs.

Both Arsenal and Swansea had success at the Etihad in attacking Man City through this zone.

The Gooners created three chances down the inside right channel between Clichy and Joleon Lescott. Swansea also had plenty of joy by putting balls in to the box from the left flank, as well as a through ball and a cutback once inside the area.


Man City are conceding chances through the left back zone and the inside left channel.

Aaron Lennon could be a key figure for Spurs in this match. He laid on one of our two goals at the Etihad last season and could unsettle Clichy here if he gets enough of the ball.

Man City vs Spurs outlook

This is our second major away test of the season. After coming up trumps against Manchester United, Andre Villas-Boas and the boys will do well to pull something out of the bag against the Premier League champions.

This is as good a time as any to be playing City this season though. They’ve not hit their stride, there seems to be disharmony in the camp over Mancini and the Monaco situation and they are only just edging teams in the Premier League, whilst faltering in Europe.

If we are to give them a run for their money, then we will need to attack them through their left back area. That will mean Aaron Lennon having a big match and producing a final ball, which at times this season has been all that’s lacking from his game.

They do remain unbeaten in the Premiership though and will dominate possession, looking to score by sliding in through balls.

I think the Tottenham tactics will be to start quickly, pressing and trying to break in transition from turnovers, as we have done quite often on the road this season. If we have any kind of lead to defend, then we’ll look to drop off in the second half and play on the counter.

This can be dangerous to invite pressure against a team like Man City who can score from anywhere and I see us getting edged out by a goal once again.

Man City vs Spurs prediction: Man City 2 Spurs 1

Bets: Man City 2 Spurs 1 available at 7/1 with BetFred

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