Manchester City, the highest scorers in the Premier League, against Tottenham with the meanest defence and City came out on top as Spurs ambitions for the season took a nose-dive. They conceded six goals after a mistake by Hugo Lloris presented City with the opportunity to take the lead after 14 seconds at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City 6 Tottenham Hotspur 0
Team: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Kaboul, Vertonghen; Sandro, Paulinho (Dembele); Lennon, Holtby (Adebayor), Lamela; Soldado (Sigurdsson) Subs: (unused) Friedel, Chiriches, Townsend, Defoe
Andre Villas-Boas made six changes to the team started against Newcastle. Lloris returned in goal, Younes Kaboul replaced Vlad Chiriches and Sandro started instead of Mousa Dembele. He changed his attacking midfield three with Aaron Lennon, Lewis Holtby and Erk Lamela coming into the team. It was a tough baptism for Lamela in his first start in the Premier League.
Spurs were a goal down after just 14 seconds and it was of their own making. Taking the kick-off, they worked the ball back to Holtby and then Kaboul who passed back to Lloris. The goalkeeper miskicked his clearance which fell to Aguero who powered in a shot. Lloris saved the first effort but the loose ball fell to Jesús Navas on the right who curled a shot over the goalkeeper and into the top corner. 14 seconds was all it needed for Spurs’ game plan to be turned upside down – it took me longer to type that.
City were gifted the lead and Spurs were immediately under pressure as City moved forward at pace and with slick passing. An early cross by Kyle Walker troubled the City goalkeeper with the ball falling to Lamela whose weak shot was cleared off the line. Lloris made a save as City continued to trouble the Spurs defence but as the half progressed Spurs settled and had greater control in midfield although City caused them problems with quick counter-attacks.
Lennon and Walker were a threat on the right and Sandro and Paulinho worked hard in central midfield without actually troubling the City defence. All their good work came to nothing as another poor clearance by Lloris resulted in the second goal after 34 minutes as City upped the tempo. City picked up the clearance in midfield and played the ball forward to Aguero who shot. Lloris saved the effort but the ball fell to Negredo who shot powerfully only for the ball to hit Kaboul and then deflect off Sandro into the net.
City were now in control and added a second after 40 minutes. Poor defending left space for Aguero to score from the cross from the City right.
AVB brought on Emmanuel Adebayor at half-time for Holtby and went to 4-4-2 but City were dominant and added two more goals in the first 9 minutes of the half.
On 49 minutes, Spurs lost the ball in the City half, Yaya Toure powered forward to the edge of the Spurs area and played the ball across to Aguero for the fourth. City continued in this pattern, allowing Spurs possession but as soon as they regained the ball they got forward at pace and Spurs struggled all afternoon to cope. On 54 minutes, Negredo collected the ball on the edge of the area, turned and powered his shot home.
Mousa Dembele and Gylfi Sigurdsson came on for Paulinho and Soldado but the game continued with City always looking dangerous when they had the ball running at the Spurs defenders. It always looked likely that City would add to the score and they did in added time, having missed earlier chances including an effort from Nasri which hit the bar. After 91 minutes a long ball forward was missed by Vertonghen and Jesús Navas got behind him to beat Lloris with ease.
A tough game for everyone connected with Spurs and not what Michael Dawson wanted to mark his 300th appearance for the club or for AVB in his 50th League match in charge. With United up next after the Europa League game in Norway, AVB has a lot to consider as he ponders how to turn his expensive signings into a team capable of scoring a goal and winning some games.