Match Report – Tottenham 1-0 Manchester City

Posted on by Matthew T

The English Premier League returned at the weekend and all of its drama, shocks and excitement returned with it, as well as fans! The highlight clash of the weekend saw defending champions Manchester City begin their title defence with a defeat. Here, we provide a match report and our opinion on the encounter.

Match Preview

Harry Kane
Harry Kane was the focus of much of the build-up to Sunday’s match

The highlight clash of the opening weekend of the Premier League season took place on Sunday with Tottenham Hotspur hosting defending champions Manchester City at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Much of the build-up was focused on Harry Kane. The Tottenham striker has made it clear he wishes to leave the club this summer in order to challenge for trophies, and Manchester City is the only realistic destination. However, with much controversy dominating the headlines, so far no move has materialised. Kane was not part of the squad for the match due to having an extended holiday after competing in the European Championships with England earlier this summer. This was a shame as most neutrals were desperate to witness some kind of drama if he were to score against his potential new club!

For Tottenham, their focus was on starting off the new campaign with a positive result under new manager Nuno Espirito Santo. The new man resisted the temptation to start new signings Cristian Romero and Bryan Gil from the off, as they had to settle with a place on the bench.

Manchester City began life without Sergio Aguero, and without the striker that they were desperate to acquire from their opponents. However, new £100million man Jack Grealish was handed his full debut for the club. The midfielder, signed from Aston Villa recently, had to settle for a substitute appearance only in the Community Shield on the previous weekend.

Lineups

Tottenham (4-3-3): Lloris (c) – Tanganga (sub 83′), Sanchez, Dier, Reguilon – Hojbjerg (sub 90′), Skipp, Alli – Moura, Son, Bergwijn (sub 77′)

Substitutes: Gollini, Romero (sub 90′), Davies, Doherty (sub 83′), Gil, Sissoko, Winks, Lo Celso (sub 77′), Scarlett

Man City (4-3-3): Ederson – Cancelo, Dias, Ake, Mendy (sub 79′) – Gundogan, Fernandinho (c), Grealish – Mahrez (sub 79′), Torres, Sterling (sub 70′)

Substitutes: Steffen, Laporte, Walker, Stones, Zinchenko (sub 79′), Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne (sub 79′), Jesus (sub 70′)

Jack Grealish
£100million signing Jack Grealish was awarded his full debut for Manchester City

Match Report – First Half

Despite the result not going the way that most had predicted, the pattern of the match certainly did. Man City dominated possession of the ball, as they usually do against almost every team, and Tottenham were happy to soak up the pressure and hit the champions on the counter-attack with pace. The visitors were just lacking a cutting edge in the final third, in a Harry Kane-like void.

It was the away side who started brighter in the first half. Almost immediately, Tottenham were pinned back and forced to defend in a low-block. However, Man City struggled to carve out any clear-cut opportunities. Fernandinho went close with a header after he beat the on rushing Lloris to a cross from a short corner. Not long after, Cancelo pulled a shot narrowly wide of the Tottenham goal as well.

The home side grew into the first half and went close through Steven Bergwijn, whose effort was blocked by Ruben Dias. Moments later, Tottenham were unlucky not to be in front after Lucas Moura was first to a loose ball and saw his shot hacked off the line by Ilkay Gundogan following a corner that the visitors failed to deal with. The champions would struggle to defend set pieces throughout the match. Tottenham’s biggest threat throughout was Heung-Min Son, who started as the central striker in place of Harry Kane. He was unlucky not to find the bottom corner late in the first half, with Cancelo’s block just about diverting the ball wide.

Match Report – Second Half

The second half began as an end-to-end affair, with both sides taking chances and attacking with intent. Both defences had to be at their best with vital blocks at important moments to deny their opponents at the beginning of the half.

Heung-Min Son
Heung-Min Son scored the only goal of the game at the weekend

It was Tottenham who took the lead ten minutes into the half though. Their constant threat of a quick counter-attack all game paid off when Moura flicked the ball round the corner for Bergwijn, who fed Son down the right hand side. He came back inside onto his weaker left foot and found the far corner with a fairly average effort. Ederson could maybe have done better with the shot but in his defence, he was left unsighted by Benjamin Mendy and Ruben Dias’ attempted blocks. But the deafening noise from the home support as it went in was exactly what had been missing from the past 18 months or so.

Lucas Moura is also a notable mention for Spurs, as his pace and directness caused numerous problems throughout and made the counter-attacks possible. He found another pocket of space later on and the ball ended up with Bergwijn, whose poor finish was way off target.

The rest of the half saw City dominate the ball but create very little, particularly by their standards. Substitutes Jesus, De Bruyne and Zinchenko had little impact on the remainder of the half and Tottenham saw it out fairly comfortably for a surprising win under the circumstances. However, the result means City have lost on all four of their visits to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Opinion

Despite the assumption that Spurs would struggle without Harry Kane and may struggle under new manager Nuno Espirito Santo, the hosts performed fantastically and pulled off their game plan to near-on perfection. All of the statistics point to Manchester City dominance in terms of possession and shots attempted. However, when reviewing the match itself, it was the home side who looked more threatening and created the higher quality chances throughout. City struggled to deal with the counter-attacks, and the pace of them specifically. Therefore, the home side probably just edged the tie and deserved their win, although some may argue differently understandably.

Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo returns to former side Wolves on Sunday

Next up for Tottenham is a trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday, whilst Man City host newly-promoted Norwich City on Saturday. Nuno will be making a quick return to his former side where he created many special memories. However, he will be focused on building on their impressive, and unexpected, positive start. Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola will be expected to win comfortably against a Norwich side easily beaten 3-0 by Liverpool on the opening weekend.

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