|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)||MANCHESTER CITY 0 (0)|
|Date : – 15th August 2021||Kick off : – 16.30|
|Competition : – Premier League||Venue : – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium|
|Crowd : – 58,262|
|Referee : – Anthony Taylor (Greater Manchester)||Linesmen : – Mr. Gary Beswick; Mr. Adam Nunn|
|Fourth official : – Craig Pawson|
|VAR official : – Stuart Attwell||VAR Assistant : – Constantine Hatzadakis|
|Weather : – Warm, sunny with some cloud|
|Tottenham kicked off the first half attacking the Park Lane end|
|Playing time : – 90 + 8 minutes
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR||MANCHESTER CITY|
|Son 54m 07s||NONE|
|Lucas (foul on Grealish) 66||Grealish (foul on Lucas) 90+1|
|Sanchez (confrontation with Grealish) 90+1|
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR||MANCHSTER CITY|
|1.||Hugo LLORIS (c)||31.||EDERSON|
|25.||Japhet TANGANGA ( 2. Matt DOHERTY 83)||27.||Joao CANCELO|
|6.||Davinson SANCHEZ||3.||Ruben DIAS|
|15.||Eric DIER||6.||Nathan AKE|
|3.||Sergio REGUILON||22.||Benjamin MENDY ( 11. Oleksander ZINCHENKO 79)|
|5.||Pierre-Emile HOJBJERG ( 4. Cristian ROMERO 90)||8.||Ilkay GUNDOGAN|
|29.||Oliver SKIPP||25.||FERNANDINHO (c)|
|20.||DELE Alli||10.||Jack GREALISH|
|27.||Lucas MOURA||26.||Riyad MAHREZ ( 17. Kevin de BRUYNE 79)|
|7.||Heung-Min SON||21.||Ferran TORRES|
|23.||Steven BERGWIJN ( 18. Giovani LO CELSO 77)||7.||Raheem STERLING ( 9. Gabriel JESUS 70)|
|22.||Pierluigi GOLLINI||13.||Zack STEFFEN|
|Manager : – Nuno Espirito Santo||Manager : – Pep Guardiola|
|Kit Supplier : – Nike||Kit Supplier : – Nike|
|Shirt Sponsor : – AIA||Shirt Sponsor : – Emirates
|Colours : –
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I think it was the Beatles who had a big hit with “Money Can’t Buy You Points” and Manchester City found this out today, with the sceptre of Harry Kane’s imminent departure to the League Champions hanging over the match, the players who will be left behind performed with great determination and aggression to beat the moneybags City side 1-0, with Kane’s spurned partner Heung-Min Son scoring the winner after 54 minutes.
It was a day for songs, with the Spurs crowd, back in numbers for the first time since March 2020, who sang “Are you watching Harry Kane ?” to the absent striker, believed to be in his executive box, out of sight of the fans and not being selected, maybe to avoid the backlash that might have gone his way. The other big bucks signing City had made already did feature and as expected Jack Grealish hit the floor more often than a Newton’s apple when anyone came near him. Unsurprisingly, he won the award for being the most fouled player in the match, mainly because Fernandinho distributed his fouls around anyone in a white shirt without getting a booking (even when the thrust the ball to the turf when he didn’t get his way), but also surprisingly, there was no chorus of “Jack Grealish, he crashes into parked cars.”
None of the Spurs signings made the start, but they were all on the bench, along with Dane Scarlett, who looks set to be a first team squad fixture this season. The flags distributed to each seat were waved as the teams took the field and a relief that some sort of normality had returned since the Norwich FA Cup tie was lost on penalties here. “My Eyes Have Seen The Glory” ran out around the ground as kick off approached, sung with passion and vigour after so long away. It looked as though the support and the subs might be needed, as City made a confident start and dominated the first 20 minutes of the match, but there were indications that the passion and vigour of the crowd were being matched on the pitch. Tanganga was demonstrating a new aggressive approach which has been missing from our game for a long time. Getting stuck into Sterling quickly and showing him who was the boss set the tone. It brought a discussion from referee Anthony Taylor with captain Hugo Lloris, beckoning him 40 yards form his goal, to talk about the “rough” treatment that Sterling was being handed out, but as we know from England’s Euro 2020 semi-final, it doesn’t take much to knock him over. That is something that equally applies to Jack Grealish. How he ever passed his Man City medical, when his balance is rubbish I will never know.
For all the early pressure, City failed to produce any real shots that troubled Lloris. There was a worry inside a couple of minutes when Skipp appeared to push Sterling over as he reached the penalty area, but Taylor made his one decent decision of the day to spot that it took place just outside. Gundogan tried to dip it over the wall, but Skipp deflected it over with his head. The corner was played short and when Mendy crossed it in, Hugo didn’t get there, beaten to it by Fernandinho, but his header drifted a yard wide of the goal and he should have done better with it. A half clearance of Mahrez’s cross fell to Cancelo, who shot back across goa, but again it went wide when he should have hit the target. Spurs were winning the ball and looking to break, but City were closing down the breakaways and building moves to go forward. Mahrez then drilled a shot at Hugo’s near post when another corner wasn’t effectively cleared away, but the Spurs skipper was right behind it.
When the game reached the 20 minute mark, Spurs started to get a grasp of the ball in midfield, winning a couple of corners and a free-kick. From the free-kick 25 yards out slightly to the right of centre, Son flighted it in and Davinson Sanchez got his head to the ball ahead of Ederson, but the ball went out to the right where Lucas volleyed it at goal, only to see Gundogan block it in front of the right hand post with the ball heading in. Our breaks were now finding City more stretched, giving the opportunity to find some space to cross the ball, but, more often than not, there were few white shirts in the box.
With 35 minutes gone, Sterling finally managed to stay on his feet and get around Tanganga, pulling the ball back across the box where it found Mahrez, but his shot was well off target again. You can see why they want to sign a striker. Committing men forward for corners and free kicks left the visitors open to being hit on the break and a better pass a couple of times form Dele and Bergwijn could have seen Ederson being called into action. Lucas was particularly effective when he got the ball, often drifting past players as if they weren’t there (until they tried to trip him) and when he did so five minutes before half-time, he played in Son, who took the ball down, twisted to create some shooting space and from 20 yards struck a shot that came of Cancelo’s arse and went wide. Amazingly, judging from the flight of the ball and the spin on it after it left the defender’s bum, Taylor gave a goal-kick. Full credit to him for the action he took when Christian Eriksen collapsed in the Euros, but one of our elite referees and he can’t spot a corner. Poor.
Shots were traded at each end before the half-time whistle, with Son hitting one over the bar from the edge of the box and Grealish having one blocked before the rebound was hit well wide by Fernandinho when well placed. Although they had suffered a fair bit of pressure, the Spurs defence seemed well organised and were aware of their roles, which they stuck to. The ball did keep coming back towards the Spurs goal in those first 20 minutes, but the running of Bergwijn and Lucas, allied with the long-range passing of Skipp did free the back four for short periods.
Half-time saw the regrettable loss of Paul Coyte’s exuberant interviews and crowd stirring. Like some half-time comperes of the past, he has been cruelly dispensed with and he will be sorely missed. Expect some sort of cricket’s “Hundred” style entertainment to be installed soon.
The second half kicked off with Spurs attacking the Paxton Road end and again, City had a lot of the ball, but it is what you do with it that counts. Spurs had the first go at goal, when Dele won the ball, broke forward and passed right to Hojbjerg in the box, but it was a little too far away from him and Cancelo closed PEH down, forcing him to hurry his shot that was going wide before it was cleared. Lucas then pulled a shot wide after a break from Sanchez blocking Gundogan’s shot in the Spurs box.
It was another break, this tie when Dier headed out Mendy’s cross, which brought Spurs a 55th minute goal. Lucas hooked the ball over his head on the 18 yard line and Steven Bergwijn moved the ball forward into the City half before playing the ball wide right to Son. Faced by Ake, Sonny produced a couple of stepovers as he came inside and hit a low left foot shot from just outside the penalty area that headed for the opposite bottom corner. Dias threw his body to his left to try and stop it on the ground, but the only way he could have done so would have been to stick out a hand, but they were tucked in behind his back. The ball went past him and Ederson failed to react as the ball settled in the net with dele gleefully collecting it as Heung-Min ran off to celebrate in front of the fans. The roar when the ball went in was a release of pent-up frustration of being away from the stadium for so long.
City looked to hit back – mainly by slinging crosses into the Spurs box. Sanchez and Dier dealt with a lot of them and Lucas chipped in with a low header to clear a corner. Hugo was coming for crosses and while he missed on earlier in the match, he made of the most of the rest. From one Lloris punch, Spurs broke again. Sanchez cleared it up towards the halfway line, Son got the better of Mendy and while he and Lucas seemed to get in each other’s way, Moura came out with the ball and looked left for Bergwijn. Fernandinho got a foot in and got the ball for once, only to divert it via Cancelo’s foot into the path of Stevie B in the left hand channel. Taking the ball into the box, he maybe took one touch too many and by the time he shot, Ederson was out at him and while there was a good amount of goal to perhaps clip it over him with his left foot, he could only put the ball a couple of feet wide.
Their defence was all over the place and when Lucas robbed the ball off a blue shirt, he tried to find Hojbjerg with a pass inside the full back, but Ederson cut it out. Sterling did have a chance when a corner went up in the air and when it dropped he weakly sliced his shot wide. A flashpoint came in the 66th minute when Lucas was penalised for a foul on Grealish (who else !) and a free-kick given. Dias decided to get involved and started wrestling the ball off Moura, which resulted in a yellow card for the Spurs man. Compare and contrast when Grealish hacked down Lucas later in added time and confronted the Brazilian to accuse him of diving (it takes one …). Sanchez and Dier raced in to defend their team-mate and there was a yellow card for Grealish … and then one for Davinson. These incidents could have been dealt with so much more easily, but Taylor is becoming a referee, like so many before him, who wants to be like a headmaster. A swift yellow card would have diffused the situation in each case, as there would have been nothing to argue about afterwards and it was indicative of the performance of the referee all afternoon. He seemed to be willing to penalise Tottenham, while allow City to get away with a lot more and was happy to allow Fernandinho to slam the ball down into the turf when his side was penalised. Such dissent by a white shirt would have brought an immediate caution I imagine.
As it was, the game went on and ball after ball came into the Spurs area, with Torres getting across his marker at the near post, but Hojbjerg did enough to ensure that it came to nothing. Their first effort on goal of any note came in the 74th minute, when Grealish found some space to attack down their left and from inside the box, he shot, but it was straight at Hugo and lacked any great power. Guardiola made some changes, bringing on Jesus to try and save them, while he risked de Bruyne, who wasn’t supposed to be fit and also Zinchenko to try and target Tanganga who wasn’t always give protection from the midfield. However, Japhet stuck to his task as he had done admirably in the previous 82 minutes before he had to leave the field to be replaced by Doherty.
The changes didn’t make an immediate impact, with Son shooting and Ederson touching the ball wide for a corner, but the Korean played it straight into the keeper’s hands. When City did move the ball forward, they won a corner that gave Cancelo a chance with a header, which he put too high. De Bruyne did try a curling shot from their left that Hugo dived to his left to push wide and that corner and their next were well defended, with a move from left to right gave Torres a shot that Hugo got behind to hold the ball safely. Cancelo played a high, hanging ball into the box from a cleared corner, but Hugo came out to claim it comfortably.
As the clock reached 90 minutes, Nuno brought on Romero for his debut in place of the cramp suffering Hojbjerg. There were four minutes added on and I’m not sure Romero touched the ball at all ! He didn’t really need to as most of that time we had the ball and there was a massively ironic moment when Lo Celso was brought down, Dias tried to haul him up and Fernandinho indicated that he had dived. Once more … the biter bit !
In the last action, Gundogan had the ball on the side-line and Sanchez came over to challenge him, winning the throw-in off the City man and leaving him in a heap off the pitch. Taylor checked on his welfare and called the physios over to give him treatment, but it was left to Eric Dier to explain to the ref that as the German was off the field, play could continue. It did, but the final whistle went soon after and the roar echoed around the ground again. Unfortunately, it brought a small child from the City end who wanted Grealish’s shirt, running onto the pitch to do so. This was followed by three more pitch invaders and City fans pulling down the Proud Lilywhite’s rainbow flag in the North-East corner. Having now lost three games on the trot you would have thought they would be used to not winning, but I guess you can let the Mancs out of Manchester, but …
Tottenham’s victory was against a slightly under-par Manchester City, but the way that Nuno set the team up to play and the attitude to not allow City tie and space paid off after a dodgy first 20 minutes. However, Tottenham still haven’t got all their players back and firing, so City can’t use that as an excuse. The speed of the breakaways and the solidity of the midfield, with Skipp, Hojbjerg and Dele all covering a lot of ground and putting in some tackles that City would not have expected from some Spurs sides of the past. Dele almost got into trouble when a City player ran past him at the end and with his legs tying up, he launched a lunge as they were getting away, but fortunately, he missed. Every Tottenham player gave their all, which is what Nuno expects and the effort paid off. It might not every week, but with this attitude, the team can pull together to put in good performances.
The stadium staff need to put in the same amount of effort, as when I arrived at 15.30, the turnstiles were closed as they weren’t working properly. Queues formed when signs everywhere around the ground promote social distancing and tempers were starting to fray. Once through the season ticket check, eventually arriving at the turnstiles, there was another mass of humanity as people were unable to activate the necessary screen on their phones to gain access. Some turnstiles were not operating and staff there were overwhelmed by the problems people were encountering. At least those fans made it that far. I heard stories of non-smartphone season ticket holders who were not being allowed to be provided with a stadium access card and others who did have them, but had a rigmarole in actually obtaining one.
Change should not be viewed negatively, but it must be for everyone and if it doesn’t fit with the corporate view of the club, then they have to be flexible enough to accommodate those who are outside the majority.
Any niggles that were caused by the access issues were forgotten as I headed out of the stadium a lot more optimistic than I had entered.
Cristian Romero made his debut for Spurs as a 90th minute substitute.
|Everton||3||South Coast Big Club||1|
|Burnley||1||Brighton & Hove Albion||2|
|Manchester United||5||Leeds United||1|
|Newcastle United||2||West Ham United London||4|
|Leicester City||1||Wolverhampton Wanderers||0|
Premier League Table 2021-22
|4||West Ham United London||1||1||0||0||4||2||3||+2|
|8||Brighton & Hove Albion||1||1||0||0||2||1||3||+1|
|16||South Coast Big Club||1||0||0||1||1||3||0||-2|