Despite a late surge and a number of attempts, Tottenham Hotspur have failed to score for the first time this season in all competitions, losing 1-0 to reigning champions Manchester City on Monday night at Wembley.
For the anticipated matchup, Mauricio Pochettino surprised no one with the available back five of Hugo Lloris, Kieran Trippier, Dávinson Sanchez, Toby Alderweireld, and Ben Davies, but opted to change things up in midfield. Starting Moussa Sissoko with frequent starters Eric Dier and Mousa Dembélé, with Érik Lamela, Lucas Moura, and Harry Kane ahead of them. Dele Alli made his return from a hamstring injury, but started the match on the bench, along with Christian Eriksen and Harry Winks.
Spurs opened up the match by playing the way they have become known for under Pochettino, but City was easily able to take advantage of the spaces left and a defensive error to go 1-0 up after only six minutes. From a goal kick, Ederson sent the ball into Spurs’ half, the ball headed straight for Raheem Sterling and Kieran Trippier. The Tottenham defender misread the situation completely, though, and Sterling won the header, dashed his way towards goal, and found Riyad Mahrez, who scored from close range.
Though the hosts were down a goal, they didn’t shy away from goal in the aftermath of City going up 1-0. A few minutes later, Kane had managed to create a shot from distance that eventually was wide of the target, but not by much. Spurs managed to create some meaningful possession and opportunities of their own midway through the first half, including a Toby Alderweireld header that also was wide of the goal.
Spurs continued to work their way into the match, and the rest of the first half saw the two sides trade stretches of meaningful possession. Both sides also managed to threaten opposing defenses, but it was City who very clearly ended the first half on top. In addition to winning the possession battle 59% to 41%, they recorded eight shots and three on target to Tottenham’s two, just one on target.
City came into the second half similarly to the way they did in the first half. Fully dominant, they looked for an insurance goal that never came. David Silva had an opportunity to score to make the score 2-0 early in the second half, but he ended up not taking a shot despite being in a strong position to score.
The visitors were fully in control for most of the match, and were very effective in keeping Spurs as far away from its goal as possible. For about 80 minutes, it was increasingly difficult for Kane and company to bother Ederson, or even end up in the penalty area. At that point in time, Spurs had managed few significant opportunities at goal, and while the team was not exactly performing badly, it proved incredibly difficult to get past City’s dominant midfield.
There is basically an invisible wall extending out from Manchester City’s 18-yard box. pic.twitter.com/I3nse2ZvU4— Ryan O'Hanlon (@rwohan) October 29, 2018
The final ten minutes of the match proved to be an entirely different affair, though, as Tottenham pressed at City’s goal in search of an equalizer. Lamela managed a shot in the 80th minute from close range that looked surely like the equalizer, but he ended up sending it above the crossbar. Soon came a flurry of chances, some from set pieces and others from open play. The pattern of play coincided with the introductions of Dele for Dembélé in the 75th minute and Eriksen for Lucas in the 80th minute. With the team’s best attacking players on the pitch, it was an obvious change of events, though the team ended up without the goal it was looking for.
A corner kick for Spurs in the fifth minute of the allocated four minutes of stoppage time was the final play of the game, though City was very easily able to deal with it before the referee for the final whistle to stay top of the Premier League table. Spurs ended the match without a lot of opportunities at goal, while City were unlucky not to score another.
xG map for Spurs - Man City. City got a couple of their normal huge chances, can't say they didn't deserve the win, Spurs could have leveled and had a break or two that coulda been more. It was a surprisingly excellent game on a terrible pitch. pic.twitter.com/PeGzUTyz6b— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) October 29, 2018
The loss is Spurs’ third of the Premier League season, and currently has the team in fifth place, one point behind fourth place Arsenal and five points behind City. They next go to West Ham for a League Cup fixture on Wednesday.
Thoughts on the match
- It was strong individual day for several players. Lamela is continuing to enjoy his strong run of form, while Kane was more active than he had seemed earlier in the season. Dier played one of his better matches of the season, and it seems as if the players are shaking off their World Cup rust. Sissoko had one of his better matches as well, though he remained inconsistent.
- On the opposite side, a few individuals allowed the game to get away from Spurs in some ways. Fullbacks Trippier and Davies continue to be easy to get by for opponents, and was the case for City’s wide players. While every now and again Trippier managed to hold his own, it was hardly a standout performance from either defender.
- Spurs were pretty impressive against a City side that is just as strong as it was last season, following up last week’s Champions League draw at PSV. Then, the team also performed well for one of its best performances of the season, trending well after performing relatively poorly to open the season.