Moussa Sissoko and Benjamin Mendy battle for the ball during Tottenham 0-1 Man City.

Tottenham 0-1 Man City: failure to prosper on right-side advantage

An error-strewn match saw us fail to prosper from an advantage on the right side as our Premier League clash ended Tottenham 0-1 Man City at Wembley Stadium.

Man City took all three points, but Spurs failed to prosper from an advantage down the right. On this flank, Benjamin Mendy was being tasked with too much ground to cover. The result was good opportunities, but a final score of Tottenham 0-1 Man City as we failed to find the net.

Benjamin Mendy’s position

The positioning of Pep Guardiola’s full backs was key. The Man City coach tasked them with overloading the base of central midfield. As a result, both Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy pushed regularly in to central positions.

The knock on effect of this was to draw the Spurs midfield up to cover them. As Tottenham wanted to press, the midfield naturally got sucked forward. Space was therefore created behind them for Man City’s more attacking players to work in.

Midfield drawn towards Mendy and Walker in central positions during Tottenham 0-1 Man City.

Midfield drawn towards Mendy and Walker in central positions.

This tactic was key to the whole game. Good chances were created from this ploy, as Man City could fashion opportunities from between the lines. However, it also caused them issues. Space in the full back areas, particularly on the side of Mendy, allowed Tottenham to run riot. Moussa Sissoko had one of his best games in a Spurs shirt. Erik Lamela also became a central character, which we’ll get in to later.

Tottenham opening error

The match was littered with errors. Both teams wanting to press and squeeze the size of the playing area contributed partly to this. A very hard surface that resembled a farmers field equally didn’t help. Copious lines and markings from the previous day’s NFL match must’ve also added to the confusion.

Man City was the first to profit from such an error. The pitch, however, didn’t really play a part. Spurs were caught pressing and were punished by a long kick from the goalkeeper.

Ederson’s long kicking ability needs to be respected. We were caught out by it in our International Champions Cup preseason match that ended Man City 3-0 Spurs last season. Ederson was new to the league and an unknown quantity at that time. A booming swing of his left foot sent the ball over our entire team for Sergio Aguero to run on to and finish. That was preseason, but in the year and a half since, the whole league now knows it.

Ederson repeated the trick here. Due to the narrow Man City full backs drawing our midfield forward, combined with our eagerness to press, Ederson could send another booming kick downfield.

Our defence was caught too high, trying to squeeze the half way line. Had Kieran Trippier been on the same page, and not five yards deeper than the rest of the defence, Raheem Sterling would have been offside.

Trippier too deep plays Sterling onside before scoring a goal to make it Tottenham 0-1 Man City.

Trippier too deep plays Sterling onside.

Trippier then made a mess of the header. Sterling retrieved the ball, danced round him and set up Riyad Mahrez to finish. Tottenham 0-1 Man City and a trademark Guardiola goal as one wide forward found the other.

Lamela on the loose

Man City’s tactics to create space between the lines by using narrow full backs was paying off when in possession. However, without the ball, a plethora of players in advanced positions left room around defensive midfielder Fernandinho. Erik Lamela excellently filled this space.

Erik Lamela in space between the lines can attack the defence during Tottenham 0-1 Man City.

Erik Lamela in space between the lines can attack the defence.

Lamela moved in and out of here, which had two knock-on effects. Firstly, Benjamin Mendy was often caught narrow defending him, which left space down the right flank. Kieran Trippier and Moussa Sissoko benefited as a result. Second, Aymeric Laporte was drawn forwards from centre back and consequently out of position.

Laporte drawn from the back line was key to some big chances. Harry Kane fizzed an early effort just over the crossbar as the movement of Lamela drew Laporte out. Kane then had a great one-versus-one opportunity as Laporte was out of the back line once again. However, Kane took a heavy touch and Ederson smothered him.

Later, Moussa Sissoko wasted a gloriously created cutback opportunity. Lamela drew Laporte way out from the back line. Benjamin Mendy was caught pressing forward, which allowed Sissoko to sneak in-behind him.

Lamela draws Laporte out and Sissoko runs in-behind during Tottenham 0-1 Man City.

Lamela draws Laporte out and Sissoko runs in-behind.

In acres of green space, Sissoko managed to pick out Fernandinho with three well-placed Tottenham players waiting.

Lamela buzzing between the lines was creating problems for Mendy and Laporte. The trio were involved in Tottenham’s biggest chance of the evening. Lamela blazed the ball over the bar when arriving unmarked in the box.

In the build-up, Kyle Walker was narrow, which left Riyad Mahrez going backwards with the ball in to the vacant right back zone. Dele Alli stripped Mahrez of possession and raced in towards goal.

Aymeric Laporte was attracted by the movement of Harry Kane, which left Erik Lamela free having run off and past Benjamin Mendy.

Lamela runs off Mendy but wastes the chance during Tottenham 0-1 Man City.

Lamela runs off Mendy but wastes the chance.

This time the surface this time did play a part, as a skipping ball didn’t settle and Lamela fired over. The score remained Tottenham 0-1 Man City and the best chance to get back on level terms had gone.

Spurs empty midfield

Man City’s tactics to create space between the lines by drawing the Tottenham central midfield forward were dictating the game. David Silva should’ve walked the ball in to the goal from one such example of what the Cityzens were trying to do. The tactic was reinforced as Pep Guardiola took off striker Sergio Aguero and brought on Kevin de Bruyne to get more players in to this space.

As Man City was filling this space with players, Mauricio Pochettino was emptying it. Defensive midfielders Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele were replaced by Harry Winks and Dele Alli, both of whom played further forward. More work was therefore created for Davison Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld behind them.

The changes saw the game become very stretched. However, they almost paid off with the great Lamela chance being created and consequently wasted.

The match, quite suitably finished with an error. Kyle Walker needlessly putting a back-header out for a corner aptly underlined what was a mistake filled evening from both sides. How the score remained at Tottenham 0-1 Man City was quite remarkable!

Tottenham 0-1 Man City overall

The match was dictated by Pep Guardiola’s use of his full backs and an awful pitch to play football on.

Guardiola’s narrow full backs helped draw a very willing Tottenham central midfield out to press them. Space was thus created between the lines of defence and midfield for Man City to play in. On the flip side, room was created down the right flank aided by Benjamin Mendy’s positioning, compounded by his errors on the ball.

In spite of the tactical battle, fine margins decided this game. Man City profited from one of our errors. We didn’t from any of theirs.

Final score: Tottenham 0-1 Man City.
MOTM: David Silva.

If you enjoyed this post, please share:

, ,

23 Responses to Tottenham 0-1 Man City: failure to prosper on right-side advantage

  1. Mark from Virginia 30th October 2018 at 4:26 pm #

    Hi Mark,
    Many thanks again for your analysis. I felt the result didn’t represent the game very well. Again Spurs shot themselves in the foot defensively – they can’t possibly have many toes left! Trippier was poor – do you think it would have been better to set up with Aurier to counter Man City’s speed on the flanks? I thought Davies was much improved and I agree about Sissoko – he played really well and may have benefited if Aurier started – they have had an uncanny understanding of each other in past games.
    Finishing is the biggest issue at this point – not converting chances is a theme from the previous 2 seasons that sorted itself by November. Let’s hope this happens again.
    The introduction of Winks and Dele was very impactful and I expect they will be starting against West Ham tomorrow.
    Thanks again and Cheers,

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 30th October 2018 at 11:35 pm #

      Hi Mark. Good question about Aurier. He certainly has better speed, but he equally has a mistake in him, more so than Trippier, so it’s tough to say if he would’ve been the better choice.

      Finishing has been poor recently and it was once again last night. The pitch was partly to blame, but over the longer term we’ve not been hitting the corners of the net. Far too many shots have been to close to the keeper and from players that are better than that. Really need to step up, especially with a tough trip to a good Wolves team to come.

  2. Adrian 30th October 2018 at 5:17 pm #

    What really spoiled the game was the state of the pitch – this could and should have been a classic encounter which descended into a farce with multiple misplaced passes and missed opportunities due to the impossibility of quickly, consistently and reliably being able to control the ball
    Spurs deserved to loose as a consequence of their failure to provide a proper first-class / premier league-class pitch

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 30th October 2018 at 11:40 pm #

      Wembley were doing us a favour as the NFL games were already scheduled there and we had to be accommodated after. What has surprised me is that Wembley not only allowed their hallowed turf to be used three weekends in a row for NFL but also prior to that for the Joshua fight. This on what is supposed to be the national team’s pitch. Shocking behaviour!

  3. Sam Abrahams 30th October 2018 at 8:38 pm #

    Spurs deserved to loose as a consequence of their failure to provide a proper first-class / premier league-class pitch

    The logical leaps required for this conclusion are spine-tingling.

    Thanks for the fantastic analysis Mark. What bummed me about that Lamela miss was that he knew the ball would bobble, we all did. So rather than attempt to time it with one of his typically sweet side-foot curlers into the far bottom corner, he should have got his head down and put his fucking laces through it.

    Other than that, he was again excellent. Could he have a regular place in the starting line-up even with Eriksen and Dele back?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 30th October 2018 at 11:43 pm #

      I don’t think Lamela gets in when Son, Dele and Eriksen are all fit. However, there are plenty of games to play and often in quick succession that he is going to get starts anyway. Lamela is enjoying his best period in a Spurs shirt and long may that continue.

  4. Luther 30th October 2018 at 10:20 pm #

    I’m simply happy that Lloris didn’t have an error that led directly to a goal. However, I’m unhappy that any other player had such an error. Darn it Trippier!

    As for Sissoko…I’m happy that he proved me right. I’ve always found him a good choice against teams that don’t sit back. If there ever was a choice between him and Dembele against a deep lying team I’d pick Dembele but against more attack minded teams, I’d pick Sissoko.

    I’m still lamenting the missed opportunities. In contrast to our recent losses to City, this game actually had an air of winnability to it.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 30th October 2018 at 11:46 pm #

      I’d actually go with Dembele, but it was good to see Sissoko have a positive game in a Spurs shirt. The crowd were actually singing his name!

  5. Chas 31st October 2018 at 12:01 am #

    Everyone seems happy to blame Trippier fro the goal and obviously he was initially responsible. But no-one has recognised the appalling lack of intent and commitment by Sanchez, who half-walked back from 20 yards upfield. If he had shown the same commitment as Mahrez he is fast enough to have been there to cover the cutback from Sterling.
    Very much complicit and I suggest Poch would have had plenty to say.
    And Adrian is drawing an extremely long bow in suggesting Spurs “deserved to lose (loose)” because of “their failure to provide a proper first-class / premier league-class pitch”.
    Spurs and Wembley ground staff worked non-stop to get it as good as possible. Spurs can not be blamed for damage from three games of NFL any more than the rain, only the fact we are still playing at Wembley.
    But that is another issue and personally, I’m sick of the gripes about it.
    Man up, sweethearts, it WILL happen!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st October 2018 at 11:05 am #

      I would blame Davies more than Sanchez for letting Mahrez run off him. Order of liability would be Trippier, Davies, and then any one else for me.

      Agree that Spurs can’t be blamed for NFL damage. Wembley letting the pitch be used on consecutive weekends for the Joshua fight and then three NFL games is quite scandalous and shows that they care more about farming the stadium out for cash than the quality of their playing surface. Spurs have PSV next Tuesday and then the England national team have a match with the USA on that pitch in two weeks time followed by Croatia in the nations league. Even given the fact that Wembley would have scheduled events thinking Spurs would no longer be there, the pitch still would’ve been in a state for the England team, the supposed owners of the pitch.

      • Chas 31st October 2018 at 3:41 pm #

        Yes, Mark, of course Davies is also responsible. Mahrez was his man so it goes without saying, but with his form this year, it was no surprise to see him lose such a very good and fast player.
        My point is the lack of commitment shown by Sanchez which in no way can be termed “irrelevant”. He was in a position to get back and cover and didn’t..
        He simply couldn’t be bothered.
        And that’s a big worry for me!

  6. Brian 31st October 2018 at 1:19 am #

    Hi Mark

    Once again Mark.n a very telling analysis.I have to agree with many of the other correspondents on this that Tripper,was dumb enough to leave such a big space behind him,let alone moving up with the rest of the spurs defence.He had the choice of two options,but like Tottenham tend too do these days,he chose neither and so made an error.Of which Tottenhams defence,are doing on reguarler basis of late,unlike last season,when we looked pretty tight at the back.Plus the other old element came into the game,and that is not taking our chances when presented too usBut it was not all doom and gloom,and I thought our 2nd half performance,was a lot better,and we could have well got a draw out of this fiasco.But for t.he Managers to blame the pitch,hey we are talking about professional players here.
    Did they expect bowling green serfaces at every turn.Some of them really need to grow up.
    They may as well blame the Wembley management,for hiring out the ground.
    Never mind onwards and upwards as they say.

    Many regards Brian

    • anotherwisemonkey 31st October 2018 at 1:47 am #

      Hmmm, Chas, Davies was tracking Mahrez, and lost awareness of him while jogging slowly back, which allowed Mahrez to pass Davies on his blindside. If he’d kept touch tight or kept his eyes on his man, your point about Sanchez would be irrelevant, and I can’t help feeling Davies is more to blame than Sanchez, who I thought had a good game overall.

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st October 2018 at 11:17 am #

        Davies was culpable but even if he’d seen Mahrez go then i’d doubt over the distance he’d have the foot speed to keep up. Have to always be watching that wide forward inside run from City as they use it all the time and get so many goals from it.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st October 2018 at 11:15 am #

      Hi Brian, a poor error of judgement from Trippier. Firstly, to be deeper than the defence and play Sterling onside, but secondly not to clear the header. Trippier must know that Sterling will roast him in a foot race so why take any chance to begin with? Anytime he faces a Sterling, Martial, Hazard type he must surely be told to play safety first and to not take chances. Send the ball back from where it came or stick it in the stands rather than give any chance to a much quicker player. That goes for Davies too.

      The return of Vertonghen can’t come soon enough. Having him has a steadying influence on the defence and means that Alderweireld doesn’t have to play left centre back where he isn’t as comfortable – although he did look better there on Monday so maybe he is adjusting to this side. I’d go with Davies on the left of a three to make the defence more secure and get Rose in as a wingback. Be interesting to see if Poch does this against Wolves who have a lot of success with Doherty as a wingback on this side.

  7. Toby4eva 31st October 2018 at 8:29 am #

    Thanks Mark for another great read.

    We weren’t at the races for a lot of the game against a very classy outfit.

    But Lamela was a standout and I’ve often had the thought that he could be the logical Eriksen cover that we keep saying we haven’t got.

    A pity he didn’t bury his golden chance to nick a point after beautiful work from Dele.

    Wasnt it great to see him back!

    And I thought Winks had a bit of the old swagger back – he has the makings of a very good player and made a serious impact when belatedly introduced.

    The last 20 minutes was much better and we looked consistently more dangerous and bossed possession.

    Given that we again played with 10 men it was a good result.

    The more Poch perseveres with the big oaf the more bemused and frustrated I get.

    Park footballer.


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st October 2018 at 11:27 am #

      That’s the thing with Sissoko for me. Even when he had a good game, as he did here, he rarely has an end product. His powerful runs here were good, but as on the cutback opportunity, when presented with the chance to play a killer ball he fails miserably. Ironically, he had decent crossing stats at Newcastle, but the occasions seem to big for him here and now it’s in his head he is far too conscious that he has a big opportunity and consequently blows the big moments, which leads to more boos and negativity. A constant downward spiral.

      Great to see Dele back, how we miss him! I’m not sure on Lamela being the Eriksen cover. He is an option, but I think he struggles receiving the ball with his back to goal and likes it to feet facing goal. By that I mean that he will always lay a ball off backwards with his back to goal rather than take it in to his feet and try to turn, spin or play a deft pass around the corner. He much prefers to take the ball in space moving forwards where he can run with it or play the through ball whilst travelling forwards. He has good passing ability so he is a budget option for the odd match here and there ie we don’t have to spend on cover, but not 100% ideal.

  8. YouShubes 31st October 2018 at 12:49 pm #

    “…In acres of green space, Sissoko managed to pick out Fernandinho with three well-placed Tottenham players waiting…” this line killed me… if Mousa had even a quarter comparable technical ability to his physical skill set he would cost shy of the 90m plus extras Pogba did

    My imagination but did we switch to 3 at the back, Dier being asked to play RCB?

    the NFL pitch costing us was the definition of all things Spursy, both kane and lamela unable to profit

    hopefully our B can put on a show vs West Ham and hopefully be the rising tide that lifts all proverbial ships

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st November 2018 at 11:09 am #

      Well observed. Dier was dropping in to make a back three on the right. This was curious to watch as he usually splits the centre backs, but here was moving to the right in order to allow us to play out. I don’t know if this was to allow us to attack better down the right at Mendy – as Dier is a better passer than Sanchez – or whether it was purely to create the back three in a similar way to dropping in-between them as Sanchez doesn’t look as comfortable wide as Toby is usually out here. Something to keep an eye on.

  9. Tony M 31st October 2018 at 7:25 pm #

    Hi Mark

    Ofcourse there is plenty room for improvement with Sissoko though i think he served purpose very well. I think Poch wanted him to cause Mendy to be less adventurous. The “best crosser of the ball in the world” Trippier averages about 7-9 assists per season. Thats from maybe a 100 crosses per season from his flank.

    The Mendy to Aguero crosses are extremely productive in general. So cancelling out the the Mendy threat also neutralises Aguero.

    Mourinyo used the same ploy against Chelsea recently. The Rushford threat tamed Alonso (who has been a very potent threat for Chelsea this season and the last).

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st November 2018 at 11:14 am #

      Hi Tony, this may well have been the case. The surprise was that Mendy and Walker were both moving narrow in order to draw our midfield three of Dier, Dembele and Sissoko towards them in order to create space between the lines behind for Bernardo and David Silva and also potential 1v1 opportunities for Sterling to use his speed against an isolated Trippier. Difficult to say if this was Poch’s plan to jam Mendy through Sissoko without being in the dressing room as Guardiola seemed to already have his plan to play his full backs narrow in place.

  10. Toby4eva 1st November 2018 at 1:24 am #

    We simply can’t afford players to contribute one dimensionally in our systems if we aspire to win fings.

    Big physical players in lower table teams can be used effectively to press and harass more skilful players out of the game to nick a point or avert a thrashing.

    But we can’t stand around applauding a player that does that in a home game against the champions if we aspire to greatness.

    Maybe it could be argued that Dembele was/is one dimensional because he doesn’t score goals from midfield, but we all know what genuine value he brings to the table.

    But he is now in the twilight of his career and we need a player that can dominate a midfield battle and set up play by incisive forward runs and passes.

    And score a few goals.

    Ndombele is the model and they don’t come cheap in the modern market.

    Wanyama hopefully can work his way back to his steely best to allow us the luxury of both Winks and Eriksen to play in a mid three with three forward goals scorers.

    Persevering with the Oaf simply will not bring the required results.

    We seemed to go better with 11 players in the Milk Cup or whatever it’s called.

    At least when we beat Woolwich we might get Burton in a Cup semi that we can win…


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st November 2018 at 11:24 am #

      You make a good point. Big physical players in lower table teams can actually get a one-off result against a top team through graft and strength, but it often doesn’t pay off over a season as quality wins out, and that is where the issue is. I actually think we have some good options in central midfield. The issue is that they are either short term due to age (Dembele) or often injured (Wanyama). I think we do have to make a run at some good central midfield options like Ndombele and potentially Barrios if we think they are upgrades over what we have, but also need to make some tough calls over the likes of Wanyama, Dembele and Sissoko due to age and health. Poch likes to overwhelm in central midfield through presence and numbers. At the minute we are limited in options in this area.