After Manchester City’s horror show of a performance at Goodison Park last weekend, they were in dire need of a positive result at home this week. Considering Tottenham Hotspur’s recent form, this was going to be no easy task for Pep Guardiola’s men. With Aleksandar Kolarov replacing John Stones as centre-back, the hosts started on a positive note, dominating possession and creating chances.
City wasted no time putting Spurs on the back foot but it was slightly odd that the best chances of the first half fell to right-back Pablo Zabaleta and not any number of their prolific attackers. The home fans were finally rewarded with results after the break when their team was gifted with two goals by Hugo Lloris within the space of five minutes through Leroy Sane and Kevin de Bruyne. In the end, victory, however, eluded the Citizens after Spurs drew level through a Dele Alli header and a Son Heung-min strike.
Tthe modest scoreline, though, belies an intriguing end-to-end game that had up to three penalties denied. Here’s a close look at the five major talking points from the stalemate:
#1 Finding the right formation
Mauricio Pocchetino introduced Kevin Wimmer as part of a back three in the absence of the injured Jan Vertonghen and it didn’t seem like a bad idea considering his successful use of the tactic back when Toby Alderweireld was injured. However, once the Argentine realised City were coming at his men with all guns blazing, he had no option but to change things up on the pitch.
The visitors spent most of the first half chasing shadows as they struggled to make their mark on the game and a change in formation seemed imperative as the Spurs defenders kept getting caught out by the likes of Sane and Sterling. Wimmer and Eric Dier’s early booking in the first half also became a sore point for the manager as he watched his men struggle. Minutes into the half and Pochettino promptly signalled for Dier to move back into midfield as Walker, Wimmer, Alderweireld and Rose moved into a traditional backline.
The Argentine changed it up again as he substituted Wimmer for Son making way for Alli in the middle of the park as Christian Eriksen moved further wide. The side underwent additional changes as Alderweireld was forced to go off to be replaced by Victor Wanyama as centre-back. The changing dynamics in the lineup made it difficult for them to find their rhythm as they struggled against superior opponents.