Tottenham, Manchester City Not Same Teams that Met in Week 9

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21: Tottenham Hotspur November 21, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21: Tottenham Hotspur November 21, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images) /

When Tottenham meet Manchester City Saturday afternoon at the Etihad, it will be two very different teams than met back in November. Whereas the win over Manchester City was one of the high points thus far in the Tottenham season, it was a low point for City and teams have gone in different directions sense. When the two teams now meet Saturday, City is the team on the ascendency seemingly running away with title, while Tottenham are the sputtering team looking for form and the right XI.

Peak of Tottenham’s Early Run

It was really two weeks later after the win over Arsenal that the wheels started to fall off for Tottenham, but the Manchester City match was a different kind of game and it was the one that sold the players on parking the bus. City outshot Tottenham 22 to 4, yet Lloris only had five relatively comfortable saves and Spurs scored two goals.

Possession was not even close as City had the ball for 66% of the match and dominated every category but free kicks. Ultimately, Pep’s insistence on his team hacking down Spurs to stop the counter attack hurt City more than helped them. City committed a very un-Manchester City like 19 fouls in the match, resulting in 16 free kicks for Spurs. Given Tottenham had zero corners to City’s 10, those stoppages and free kicks helped.

It was that performance taking the once mighty Manchester City offense and reducing it to 22 pot shots toward an unbothered Hugo Lloris that made Spurs think they could and worse should do that to everyone. Although that win felt a lot different, as we now know, Spurs need the ball more than less.

Spurs may have respected City a bit too much

It is important to remember, however, City was not exactly zooming to that point. Through seven matches – how many they had played going into that game – City had only scored 10 goals, compared to Spurs 19 in 8. Instead of pressing this advantage and trying to take it to City, Spurs say back and fell in love with a false promise.

Ultimately, Spurs ruined themselves and set Manchester City on a course for destruction, because they many not have beaten Tottenham, but that is pretty much all they have done to opponents since, beat them.

Manchester City Doing it Differently

In that first match-up City was still trying to replace the injured Sergio Aguero – who is still yet to return to the team. However, Jesus was not up to the challenge in that match-up and City have since turned in a different direction. Last week in the 1-4 thrashing of Liverpool at Anfield, Phil Foden played in the ‘striker’ position for City and they tore Liverpool apart.

Essentially Pep saw what Harry Kane had done to his team and decided to adopt a similar approach. Foden can attack, but can also distribute so he drops deep as a false nine and they have Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez – among others – to run the channels like Heung-Min Son does for Kane and Tottenham.

With a solid defense behind them and Rodri cleaning up things in the midfield – the way Spurs fans want Højbjerg too – the other two midfielders have freedom to push forward and join the attack, hence the goals for Ilkay Gudogan over the last six weeks. Given Spurs tendency to chase the ball and man defensively and the lack of pace in the back four, this could be a very bad combination for Tottenham.

Whereas Spurs left the last match in first place, which they maintained for a few more weeks, Manchester City left in ninth a more determined team. Since that last meeting, when Spurs were 6-2-1 in first and City were 3-3-2 in 13th in the table, well you know. Manchester City have gone 12-3-0 since that match, conceding only three goals in League. Tottenham have gone 4-4-5 across that same span and have conceded five goals in their last four league games – not to mention five goals in their last match period.

To say things have gone in opposite directions since that last meeting is clearly and understatement. Maybe this is the game Tottenham need to get things back on track, as it sure helped City the last time these two teams met.

Next. Tottenham Projected XI for Manchester City. dark