Tottenham Hotspur fell to Manchester City 1-0 at White Hart Lane on Sunday, all but ending ending whatever slim hopes Spurs had of qualifying for the Champions League this season, and continuing their somewhat indifferent form in the latter stage of the season. Sergio Aguero scored in the first half and Spurs had numerous opportunities to equalize, but weren't able to convert.
The first half was a story of missed opportunities by both sides. The match started out lively with three good chances for Spurs: Chadli had a promising counterattack blocked away early; the resultant corner was headed narrowly wide by Eric Dier; and Harry Kane then dragged another counterattack just wide left a minute later.
The match settled down after the opening minutes and City found their way back into the game. Sergio Aguero fired a stinger of a shot that went just wide, and City had another chance after James Milner's cross was headed behind by Federico Fazio.
Midway through the half Hugo Lloris was caught outside his box making a run at the ball. Aguero got behind him and went down, but referee Andre Marriner judged that his fall inside the box was not a foul and waved play on. It was a close thing - there was contact from Federico Fazio, and those calls have been given before. Spurs probably should feel fortunate that Aguero didn't get a spot kick.
Just a few minutes later, Aguero made Spurs pay: City counterattacked off of a Tottenham corner, and caught Spurs' defensive line off-guard. It led to a beautiful through ball from David Silva to Aguero, who was wide open in the box after Ryan Mason failed to track him all the way. Aguero easily fired the ball past Lloris and City led 1-0.
Spurs had another fantastic opportunity to score late in the half: Harry Kane put a cross into the box and it was met by Ryan Mason. His effort on goal was blocked away by Hart, who made a fine save, and Spurs were frustrated once again. The first half ended 1-0.
The second half started with no changes from either side. City, holding a lead, started pressing Spurs' midfield more directly, which made it that much more difficult for Spurs to penetrate City's defense. And even when they did, Joe Hart was up for the challenge. Hart played very well, and seemed to get a hand to just about every shot Spurs directed on goal. Frustrated, Mauricio Pochettino rage-subbed off Eriksen for Roberto Soldado, and eventually even put on Emmanuel Adebayor for Nacer Chadli in an attempt to get that elusive equalizing goal. But no matter what Spurs did they were simply not able to put the ball into the back of the net. The match ended with the final score 1-0.
- We didn't lose six-nil! This is positive!
- Plenty of blame to go around for Aguero's goal, but if you're Ryan Mason, it's baffling how you decide not to fully track the leading scorer in the Premier League in that situation.
- This match was a typical Tottenham game: lots of chances, none of them converted, and Spurs lose off of a derpy goal on a defensive breakdown. I'm not sure why I expected something different, but I did.
- Credit Joe Hart for an excellent match today, but Spurs had many chances that they just couldn't direct on target. There were at least three headers that went wide, and Kane had two good chances that he bottled: an early shot in the first half that went just wide, and a late opportunity where he could've laid the ball off but instead tried to take on two City defenders.
- Pochettino's tactics at the end of that match were ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ That he felt the need to throw on all three of Spurs' strikers at the expense of the midfield just proves to me that he didn't get the midfield right to begin with, and hasn't for months now.
- This match might have been a different story with Mousa Dembele or Paulinho beside Nabil Bentaleb. Or it might not have. Who knows? But I think we all knew what was going to happen when we started out with Mason-Bentaleb again.
- Erik Lamela is finally playing well again, and I'd like to see him continue to get starts and minutes here in the last few matches. He had a very good match.
- Another great match from Danny Rose, who stretched defenses, played well positionally, and had some wonderful tackles.
- Spurs remain in sixth place, three points back of Liverpool, with three matches to play.