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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.