Tottenham 4 Man City 1: But can Spurs repeat the trick on Sunday?
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 11/02/16 12:44pm
Manuel Pellegrini was quick to point out that Tottenham were fortunate to see two of their goals stand in the 4-1 win over his Manchester City side earlier this season. But there were lessons for his players too. Could there be a repeat on Sunday?
Manchester City took the lead through Kevin De Bruyne and would have gone nine points clear of their hosts that day had they held on.
Instead, Spurs fired off four goals in reply through Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld, Harry Kane and Erik Lamela to bolster belief that Mauricio Pochettino's team were the real deal after all.
Kane is key
It was Kane's first Premier League goal of the season. Following in Christian Eriksen's free-kick, he described it as "a harder chance than it looked" and has not looked back since. In fact, the Tottenham forward has outscored every other player in the Premier League since opening his account that day and will surely fancy his chances again at the weekend.
Premier League goals since Sep 26
|Sergio Aguero||Man City||13|
With Vincent Kompany still injured, Kane could be facing the same partnership of Nicolas Otamendi and Martin Demichelis - one that struggled badly against Jamie Vardy last time out and was humbled against Spurs too. Kane has a penchant for pulling to the flanks and dropping deep, exposing Otamendi's unfortunate habit of being dragged out of position.
Man City did the double over Tottenham last season so it's not as if Pellegrini cannot find a way to trouble Mauricio Pochettino's men. However, the high energy of this young Spurs team - the youngest line-up of the season so far when these teams met at White Hart Lane - does contrast with some of the experienced heads in the City side.
In the September meeting between the sides, Tottenham ran a combined distance of 118.3km compared to Man City's total of 108.8km.
Tottenham outran City by a combined distance of almost 10 kilometres in that previous meeting with Dele Alli alone running 13.2km. Kane covered 12km. No player among the visitors came close. With more tackles and interceptions too, Tottenham's tactics unsettled City - particularly during a second half in which they were punished badly.
Hope with Hart?
One issue for Pellegrini's men the last time these teams met was the performance of their goalkeeper. Willy Caballero was unconvincing in deputising for Joe Hart and was particularly culpable for Tottenham's second goal - the one that turned out to be the winner. Caballero was caught out by the cross and allowed Alderweireld's header to loop beyond him.
|Player||Club||Save percentage (outside box)||PL rank (min 10 games)|
|Joe Hart||Man City||81.0%||20th|
Hart is the more assured presence in goal and certain to start on Sunday, but perhaps a long-range strike can't be ruled out. Hart ranks among the bottom three in the Premier League for saving shots from outside the box. That could be a problem as Spurs have had more shots on target from outside the area than any other Premier League side this season.
Tottenham have had 191 shots from outside the box this season with 56 of them on target. Both are Premier League highs.
The Aguero factor
Perhaps the biggest difference for City this time around, however, could be the form of a man who did feature in the first meeting. Sergio Aguero had scored only once in six games going into that one and barely got into the contest - seeing four shots blocked and making only 16 passes, fewer than any outfield starter. He was replaced with Patrick Roberts late on.
But this is a refreshed Aguero now. He went on to put five past Newcastle in his next Premier League appearance and comes into this clash having found the net in each of his last five games. Aguero on form is Tottenham's worst nightmare. He hit four in this fixture last season and has 10 in eight against them in total. Stop Aguero, and maybe you stop City.