City shown dust
Vibrant Spurs shame Pep Guardiola’s men with superb pressing tactics
A vibrant Tottenham Hotspur won yesterday’s meeting of the Premier League’s only two unbeaten sides when they beat leaders Manchester City 2-0.
City remain top of the table but could not cope with the intensity, pace and pressing of Spurs, who now sit second, only a point behind.
The home team went ahead in the ninth minute when Aleksandar Kolarov put Danny Rose’s long cross into his own net and an unmarked Dele Alli doubled the lead before halftime.
In the second half Claudio Bravo saved Erik Lamela’s penalty to prevent an even heavier defeat.
Southampton have not conceded a goal in six games after holding Leicester City to a 0-0 draw at the King Power stadium on Sunday and a spirited Stoke City performance denied Manchester United as Joe Allen pounced late to score for the second consecutive week and secure a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
United thought they had done enough to win when substitute Anthony Martial put them ahead on 69 minutes, two minutes after coming off the bench, with a curling shot from the edge of the area that beat Stoke’s excellent keeper Lee Grant.
So, does the Premier League really have Celtic to thank for showing its teams how to undo Manchester City? Of course it doesn’t but the same defensive uncertainty exploited by the Scottish champions in Wednesday’s thrilling 3-3 Champions League draw was certainly on evidence again here as Pep Guardiola saw his 100 per cent league run dismantled by brilliant Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
If we like competition in our game and don’t want this season’s title race to become a procession in sky blue then this was the place to be to have your spirits lifted yesterday afternoon. The home team were outstanding, running City in to the ground with a ceaseless display of high energy, pressing football.
Sir Alex Ferguson once described trying to play Guardiola’s Barcelona like being on a carousel. Well now the new City manager knows what it feels like. Superbly coached and prepared by Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham placed their opponents under ceaseless pressure from front to back and a victory by two goals was the very least they deserved.
Guardiola’s football philosophy is pretty much built on the principles of playing football from his team’s own penalty area onwards. That, we should remember, is why he decided to jettison goalkeeper Joe Hart so early in his time as coach. Hart isn’t a “footballer”, apparently.
Well here in north London that strat- egy was exposed for the second time in five days. It may work one day and it will be great to watch if it does. But it isn’t working yet and as a result City have a huge problem. Celtic drove a bus through City’s back four with their tempo on Wednesday but couldn’t defend at the other end.
Here, Tottenham merely completed the job. City were a mess at the back and Hart’s replacement Bravo was forced in to such rashness and uncertainty with the ball at his feet that the home fans were laughing at him by half-time.