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Tottenham new signing Tanguy Ndombele pivotal for midfield battle
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Last Updated: 16/08/19 6:27pm
Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele could prove pivotal against Manchester City this weekend, live on Sky Sports. We delve into the stats to explain why...
Ndombele was reportedly on Manchester City's list of transfer targets this summer, but Spurs secured his signature for £63m in early July - two days before City signed Rodri from Atletico Madrid.
The France international made an instant impact on his Premier League debut against Aston Villa, scoring a vital equaliser from range - before Harry Kane netted a late, match-winning double to secure the 3-1 victory.
Two blockbuster signings could make debuts this Saturday, with Giovani Lo Celso in contention for Spurs, while Joao Cancelo was an unused substitute for City in their 5-0 win at West Ham - but Ndombele was the most expensive recruit by either club this summer.
Tottenham eliminated Pep Guardiola's men en route to the Champions League final last term - but can Ndombele help Spurs claim their first victory over City in the Premier League for nearly three years?
It was a fantastic performance. But to be honest there is a lot to improve, he only showed 30 or 40 per cent of his potential.
Mauricio Pochettino, speaking after the Aston Villa game
Why Ndombele could be key
Ndombele shone against City last season, when Lyon produced a shock 2-1 win at the Etihad and held them to a 2-2 stalemate in France during the group stages.
Ndombele covered 9.82km against Villa - only Lamela and Kane ran farther for Spurs.
The heatmaps below epitomise his versatility when playing a central role in a 4-4-1-1 at the Etihad in September, fulfilling box-to-box duties within a 3-4-3 during the reverse fixture and covering attacking-third territory against Villa last week.
This versatility derives from a unique breadth of skills: blistering pace, considerable physical presence and prolific tackling, along with dribbling ability and close control reminiscent of former Spurs favourite Mousa Dembele,
Against Villa, Ndombele started on the right of a three-man midfield, in a 4-3-1-2 system, and primarily looked to exchange passes with right-back Kyle Walker-Peters and Harry Winks in central areas.
The 22-year-old looked to retain possession and penetrate midfield, linking with Erik Lamela, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane in advanced areas of the pitch - although Villa's deep defensive line limited his through-ball attempts to one.
Spurs face a challenge getting upfield against a City side renowned for dominating possession and stifling opposition, but one of Ndomeble's primary strengths is driving forwards and successfully passing upfield, as the graphic above shows.
Spurs restricted Man City to 52 per cent possession during their 1-0 defeat at Wembley in the Premier League last season - only Liverpool achieved a greater share of the ball against City during that league campaign.
Average possession, PL, 2018/19
Sissoko impressed by Ndombele
Ndombele's compatriot, Moussa Sissoko, has taken the new arrival under his wing in London.
"I was in the same situation as him a few years ago. When you sign for a new team, especially in a new country, it's never easy," Sissoko told Sky Sports.
"You do not know the language and the style that you play is totally different. So you need someone who is close to you and speak with you and can give you some advice.
"I think everything he has done since he got here is good, he is improving a lot, even his English, and on the pitch he understands what we ask him to do."
Ndombele might be settling in but can he find pockets in City's star-laden midfield and unlock their notoriously watertight rearguard to send an early message of intent?