City 2-1 Tottenham: Defending Champions show the Killer Class
Manchester City justified their ‘defending champions’ status by coming from 1-0 behind to win their match against Tottenham Hotspurs at Fort Etihad. Despite the adverse publicity in the press before the game, the ‘Blues’ once again rose to the challenge with Mancini thwarting AVB’s ‘Plan A’.
It was the ‘super-sub’ Dzeko who got the winning goal for City and kept his reputation alive, breaking Spurs hearts in the process.
Last season, City were a thoroughly entertaining team with plenty of unpredictability in their gameplay with the likes of Silva and Nasri being key to opening up opposition defences. Compared to that, this season they have been dull to watch, huffing and puffing but failing to blow anyone’s home down.
Spurs have been a little similar, with Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham being an attractive attacking side compared to AVB’s technically efficient team with a propensity to feature in low scoring simple games.
The line-ups were just the way as they were expected with the exception of Adebayor being played instead of Defoe, who scored a hat-trick midweek. Perhaps Adebayor, being a former City player, playing against his old team could have a psychological effect.
AVB’s Plan A
From the very start of the game, it was evident that AVB had set his team to not concede and play on the counter. They focussed on breaking City’s rhythm in the midfield by playing a high-line of defence. As a result, City had to play the balls more aerially then they would have liked. It was either that or to keep on back passing and keeping possession without any result.
Spurs high line of defence kept the City midfield under pressure.
Consequently whenever Spurs broke away on the counter they tried to go for the crosses and corners. It was simple logic really, City have shown their susceptibility to set-pieces in the past matches. Spur’s approach paid off as they got a goal just the way City have been conceding this season. Huddlestone swung the ball into the box with menace which was turned in by Caulker, the ball creeping into the net.
Now Spurs had the monumental task of defending their slender lead for the next seventy minutes at the fortress of Manchester City.
City seemed to have written off the first half as a bad job as they committed silly fouls, failing to do anything productive with their possession.
The first half was witness to plenty of heated exchanges and the intensity continued into the second half. City continued in the same vein as before, that is they continued to keep possession without significant effect.
Mancini’s Bold Move
With the match being played in a scrappy manner, Spurs irritating the City midfield with their quick clearances, it was obvious that City needed to seize the match by the scruff of its neck.
Mancini decided to do just that by introducing Maicon in place of the ineffective Nastasic, and switching to a 3-man defence. It was a bold move on both fronts. Maicon was terrorised by Bale in his last encounter with Inter Milan so playing him against Bale again was a risk. The other major move was the 3-man defence, which has not worked for City since its introduction this season and has been highly criticised.
A 3-man defence allowed Yaya Toure the freedom to make his incisive forward runs.
Subsequently, Yaya Toure moved on up and thus began his steam rolling runs into the opponent half. The City midfield that had been irritated by the Spurs players till now suddenly began to make impact with their possession. Silva moved up to run into the opponent holes and Aguero began to look even more menacing. The heavy pressure on the Spurs defence paid off when Aguero scored after cutting back from a tight angle, evading Caulker and finishing with familiar class.
The Super Substitute
Tevez was substituted for Edin Dzeko while AVB sent Defoe in place of a yellow-carded Adebayor. Tottenham were creaking by now and there was an ominous dread in the Spurs hearts as a City goal did not look far away.
The two men who combined to get the winning goal for Man City – Silva and Dzeko.
City struck at the end of the match with Dzeko gifting City another late goal to retain his ‘Super-Sub’ tag. David Silva, the magician of Manchester City conjured a magical pass, a gorgeous chipped ball over the Spurs defence which found the on-side Dzeko. The Super-Sub sent a faultless volley past the undeservingly defeated Friedel.
The Killer Class
Manchester City showed Tottenham the stuff of champions, the killer instinct, and the persistence to never back down even when the chips are down. There were some very good City performances, Zabaleta was stellar, Aguero was a menace and Silva was the key to pick the defensive locks. Above all, Man City are beginning to show the hallmark of champions, winning without playing so well.