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Here is the match analysis from the Spurs vs Man city match from two weeks back.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men inflicted the first defeat on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City this season with a thoroughly deserved 2-0 victory over the early touted title contenders. It was a sign of things to come as City looked unconvincing in their approach when they played Celtic in midweek where they drew 3-3. Brendan Rodgers’ side set out to disrupt city and press them high up the pitch and scored three goals against them in the midweek Champions League clash. They could not quite manage to stop City from scoring but ended up with a creditable and entertaining 3-3 draw. Spurs are a more complete package than Celtic when playing the pressing game and started about the same way as Celtic did by pressing the City back line.

Pep Guardiola made interesting selections in his team by starting both Navas and Fernando. The start of Fernando was particularly unconvincing as Fernandinho had played the number 4 all the previous matches in the Premier League and was very effective in doing so too.

Line ups: Tottenham(4-3-3):1. Lloris 2.Walker 4. Alderweireld 5.Vertonghen 3.Rose 12.Wanyama 23.Eriksen 20.Alli 11.Lamela 17.Sissoko 7.Son

Man City(4-2-3-1/4-1-4-1):1.Bravo 5.Zabaleta 30.Otamendi 24.Stones 11.Kolarov 6.Fernando 25.Fernandinho 7.Sterling 21.Silva 15.Navas 10.Aguero

s1Courtesy- Fourfourtwo.com

Spurs press pins Man City back:

With Son, Sissoko and Lamela up front , Pochettino played Eriksen in a slightly withdrawn role while Dele Alli was tasked with a role slightly further up the pitch. Eriksen proved to be a vital link in the midfield as Eriksen picked out Son 12 times throughout the match , their second highest pass combination for the match. This was also the first time this season that an opposition team has had a pass combination equal to that of City’s.(Walker to Sissoko-14 times while City’s highest pass combination was Stones to Bravo-14 times) This is down to the fact that Spurs pressed the back line and bravo in particular so that the defenders could not receive the ball.The pass combination stats also indicate that John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi did not have passing options to his side as Sissoko and Lamela did well to cover the full backs and cut out the passing options. With City not settling into their rhythm, Spurs took the lead when a  Danny Rose cross was sliced into his own net by Aleksandr Kolarov.  Kolarov might have been a little taken aback by the ball coming past John Stones’ head and it showed how shaken he was by Spurs’ pressing, when he hacked a wild clearance into his own net.


Courtesy- Fourfourtwo.com

This is the passing map of Fernandinho in the match. The fact that he misplaced the passes shows how well Spurs have pressed. This is particularly striking if we see Fernandinho’s performances the previous two league matches against Swansea and Bournemouth.

s3Courtesy- Fourfourtwo.com.Fernandinho against Bournemouth

Fernandinho has been very impressive in this season with his circulation of the ball neat and quick. In the match against Bournemouth Fernandinho completed 55 out of his 60 passes while against Swansea, an impressive 55 out of 58 attempted.

s4Courtesy- Fourfourtwo.com.Fernandinho against Swansea

City’s Lack of Positional Structure:

City never settled into a rhythm and never got much into their usual set up as seen in the previous matches where the pivot(Fernandinho in the previous matches) dropped a bit deeper and was flanked by both the inverted full backs filling the half spaces and counter press when they lose the ball up field in a 3-2-5(the first line of pressure from the Aguero, Silva/De Bruyne, Gundogan/De Bruyne and the two wingers, the second by the inverted full backs and finally the number 4 and the two centre backs). It can also be said as a 3-2-4-1.

Fernando never got to the pace of the game and was out run by the Spurs midfield who constantly were on the front foot. The passing lanes to Aguero were cut from City’s midfield and the shape of the Spurs line up gave them the first half dominance over the City midfield. Son kept drifting towards the flanks at times and was energetic throughout in his pressing. Spurs particularly targeted Bravo and Kolarov with Sissoko relentlessly going up and down the flank,  as they were unconvincing in their distribution of the ball and relentlessly pressed them. Spurs were intelligent in their pressing and stayed compact throughout. This was seen when the forwards contributed to the first line of defense up field with the Spurs back line pressing up till the half line in order to maintain the structure of the team. Wanyama laid the base for the Tottenham mid field who played a solid 4-3-3 or a variant of 4-2-3-1 with Eriksen dictating the play from deep while Alli played slightly higher up. Spurs also won most of the second balls when Bravo was forced to kick up field.

s5 Courtesy- Fourfourtwo.com

The influence of the Spurs players and their average positions show that they pressed city high up the pitch and also that Eriksen and Wanyama ran the midfield with fluid circulation. With Alli playing around zone 14 and Lamela cutting in to make space for Rose in the flanks for overlaps contributed to positional dominance over City in those zones. Son drifted to the flanks at times and along with Walker and Sissoko created overloads to bring City’s players out of position and dominated proceedings. Alli in particular was intelligent in his movement and drew Fernando out of his position so that either of the inside forwards or Eriksen could make use of the space.

s6 Courtesy- Fourfourtwo.com

City’s average position tells the story of how they were pressed as a key component in Guardiola’s tactical set up until this game was to station his wingers in the flanks.  Both Sterling and Navas did not have good games and were found a bit near the half spaces due to being fielded out a with a double pivot of Fernando and Fernandinho. There was minimal width being offered by City . Fernandinho played a bit further up the pitch trying to link the midfield in transition but the buildup play from the back was virtually made impossible in the first half due to the nature of Spurs’ press. The wingers were not in the flanks and as previously mentioned, resulted in City not being able to counter press and pin Spurs in their half with their 2-3-5 set up. The positioning of the players in attacking transition was found to be wanting in the City players as they did not stretch the play enough to evade the pressing from Spurs.

s7Courtesy- Fourfourtwo.com

This is the average position map for City’s match against Bournemouth. The whole City team is further up the pitch than seen in the Spurs match and also that the whole positional play of the team was precise. City never gained such a foothold in this match to hurt Spurs with their build up play.

Victor Wanyama easily had his best game in a Spurs’ shirt and was excellent with his defensive duties and ball distribution. Wanyama even played a major role in the first goal by winning a tackle in the midfield leading to the goal. He contributed to the second line of pressing when City did manage to get the ball up the field and kept the ball flowing by passing to either Alli or Eriksen.

s8 Courtesy- Fourfourtwo.com Wanyama against Spurs

Questions have to be asked as to why Gundogan did not start over Fernando and this was soon to be the case in the second half as Guardiola did the change. City somewhat regained their composure once the familiarity of the lineup was established but Spurs never stopped pressing and ended up winning a penalty in the second half. The fact that they could afford the luxury of missing the penalty and still end up as comfortable winners showed how good they were on the pitch.


It was not all gloom for Guardiola and City as City improved after the break with Gundogan’s introduction. Hugo Lloris had a very good game and simply would not be beaten, especially in the second half when Aguero had two very good chances. But Spurs deserved the win in terms of their overall performance. With two managers who demand perfection in positioning and spatial awareness, the first battle was won by Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham. In Guardiola and Pochettino we have two top managers who have sets of players who are absolutely devoted to them and completely believe in their manager’s principles. Pochettino’s well drilled side won the match courtesy of their excellent energy and tactical set up stifling City’s attacking threat.

The stats in the article are courtesy of fourfourtwo.com