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Spurs vs. City: Match Review

Okay, I've calmed down. I think I was in such a bad mood after the game because my roommate was understandably asleep between 6:45 and 8:45 am on a Saturday morning, and thus I could not scream at my television every time Spurs wasted a scoring chance. So, deep breaths...let's go.

This was, in the end, not a bad result. Manchester City are considered, along with Liverpool, to be our rivals for the fourth through sixth spots in the table (although Aston Villa appear to have something to say about this). They have more raw talent and a much more expensive squad. There are more experts tipping them for a top four place than us. Having taken all of that into consideration, a draw against that team where we were the better side and their goalkeeper played out of his mind is not a negative. We prevented our rivals from gaining ground and if that game was re-played, we would probably come out with a win.

Before getting into what I thought of the play of Spurs' players and our tactical setup, I would like to address those areas for Manchester City. Rarely on this blog am I going to take a lot of time stressing over the tactical choices of our opponents, because quite frankly, I'm Stephen A. Smith and...just kidding. Because quite frankly, I like it when our opponents make poor decisions. Manchester City's decisions were just so baffling, though, that I can't let it go. I expected Roberto Mancini to deploy two defensive midfielders with David Silva and Adam Johnson on the wings and Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor up top. What they did instead was play three defensive midfielders, Shawn Wright-Phillips instead of Adam Johnson, and Carlos Tevez up top by himself as a false nine. Not surprisingly, City failed to create a lot of chances, except on the counter.

Why the hell would a team with all of the resources and talent in the world play three defensive midfielders EVER, especially against a team who has Tom Huddlestone on the field? This is no Big Tom bashing session, he had a very good game today, making a couple of key tackles and avoiding mistakes on the ball, but he wasn't tested. Gareth Barry was completely useless all game. How a team like Manchester City can spend hundreds of millions on players without getting a player like Mesut Oezil, Diego, or Ivan Rakitic is beyond me. They have a poor man's version of those players on the bench in Stephen Ireland, but they would rather play three defensive midfielders than use him. For f--k's sake, the guy won the PFA Young Player of the Year and then was tossed to the curb. You're going up against a team with Tom Huddlestone and instead of trying to exploit his deficiencies, you're going to play three defensive midfielders? Insane. You don't have to turn a defensive midfielder into a playmaker, you have all of the money in the world. What the hell is this, Manchester City or a West African national team?

That's enough City bashing, hopefully they continue to be completely inept. Let's start with the things I didn't like about Spurs today so we can finish on a positive note. Obviously, the finishing has to get better. Joe Hart was absolutely out of his mind today, but on a couple of occasions our shots could have been better taken. The standout case of this is the opportunity that Gareth Bale had in the second half where he missed an absolute sitter with his weaker right foot. Even with how well Joe Hart played, we should have put a couple into the back of the net.

I was a little disappointed to see Tom Huddlestone preferred to Wilson Palacios today, but he was carrying an injury through part of preseason and it's possible that he just wasn't 90 minutes fit. If that is the case, I am happy Huddlestone played ahead of him. If he is fit, I'm not quite sure what Harry is thinking.

Luka Modric was a little disappointing for me today. I was happy to see him played in the center with Gareth Bale at left midfield and Benoit Assou-Ekotto at left back, but Modric didn't go forward as much as I would have liked. He was level with Huddlestone for a lot of the match and when he went forward, it wasn't exactly with reckless abandon or anything. I'm not entirely sure why not. There was no reason we couldn't allow Modric the freedom to roam around the pitch and bomb forward whenever he pleased. City played three defensive midfielders, after all. What were we afraid of, a surging forward run from Nigel De Jong? If Modric was going to play that conservatively in the middle, we might as well have played Palacios.

Jermaine Defoe and Peter Crouch looked seriously gassed by the time Harry brought them off, which is not a good sign going into Tuesday's big Champions League qualifier against Young Boys. I can't imagine both of them starting. I wouldn't be shocked to see a Pavlyuchenko-Giovani Dos Santos combination...or maybe that's just wishful thinking.

So, the positives. I'm very happy that Luka Modric got the start in the middle. Like I said, I would have liked to see him given more freedom, but he had a decent game. I think he's a much better player in the middle than he is on the left, and I think that against lesser opposition and when paired with the more athletic Palacios or Sandro, he'll be given a chance to really shine.

Gareth Bale was very effective, even if he missed a sitter and let a couple of crosses go astray. It was probably just first game over-excitement; he looked a little too jacked up. Bale should be one of our key players all season and like I've said before, an automatic starter.

Michael Dawson and Ledley King were virtually flawless in the center of defense, and the fullbacks Ekotto and Vedran Corluka performed their jobs more than adequately. This should be our first choice defense whenever all four players are available, but of course, the questions about the durability of Ledley King's knees will always linger. It will be interesting to see if the chemistry of the defense is affected at all in the first game that Sebastien Bassong is required to step in to give Ledley King a rest.

Spurs' next match is in Switzerland on Tuesday against Young Boys. The Swiss side continues to struggle in the league, losing 1-0 at home today to Neuchatel Xamax, a team that is currently third from bottom in the Swiss Super League. After that, we travel to the Brittania Stadium to take on Stoke in the league next Saturday. On Monday, we'll take a look at the match against Young Boys.