Manchester City (Away)
Premier League

Sunday 16th March 2008


Manchester City are a funny old side.  We have a good record over them, but they beat us 4-3 at the Lane with ten men in an FA Cup replay.  They lose to the bottom feeders in the division, but then go and beat Manchester United on their own turf.

Unpredictable ?  You bet !!

I have always thought they were a bit like Spurs, but having the propensity to disappoint their fans even more than our side do.  But of late they have had more lows than highs.  The relegations, the boardroom problems, moving out of Maine Road and into the Commonwealth Games Stadium and now the Thaksin Shinawatra money issue.  On top of that the brave move of taking on Sven Goran-Eriksson and all the background that he brought with him, you wondered if things would be on a downward spiral at the City of Manchester Stadium.

However, things have gone rather well for the light blue half of Manchester this season.  Sitting comfortably in the top half of the table and safe from any relegation worries, it is only recently that they have failed to maintain their form and have lost a few games that they would not have done earlier in the season.

So, is it a good time for Spurs to meet the Citizens ?

Recent result shave not been the best for City as their season has gone a bit flat.  Having won up at Eastlands in the League Cup, with ten men for much of the game, it is a psychological boost, but coming off the back of extra time and a penalty shoot out defeat in Holland, it is a tough call for Spurs to pull out a top performance on Sunday.  However, expect Dawson and Kaboul to be paired in central defence to show Ramos is they are worthy of a place at the club next season.  Hutton will return at right back and Chimbonda to left, unless Ramos will put Lee in from the start.  O'Hara will start along with Darren Bent leading the attack.  The changes will give players a rest, but will also persuade those chosen that they should show determination and style to impress the new coach.

City have a few injury problems, with possibly the most notable being Micah Richards, who will be missed from their defence, which might consist of Vedrun Corluka, Sun Jihai, Michael Ball and Richard Dunne, as options are somewhat limited at the moment.  Corluka was a player much linked with Spurs and he has pace and height, but has failed to show consistency, although better than some of the City defenders.  Dunne is often given the run-around by Robbie Keane and might be spared that, as Keano has played a lot of games this season and might be given a rest.  Ball and Jihai are old hands, who apply plenty of effort, but not always in the right direction and lack pace, as does Dunne.  There might lie Tottenham's best way forward with Bent providing the physical presence to give Dunne problems.  Nedum Onuoha could be absent with a hamstring problem and Javier Garrido has not proven to be the answer at left back that Eriksson hoped he might be.  Lennon could have fun against him if he does play.

If Tottenham do get through, they will face England goalkeeping prospect Joe Hart, who many tout to be in the England squad for the France friendly later this month.  A big presence in goal, a bit like Peter Schmeichel (who's son Kaspar is the back-up keeper at City) and confident, he still has a bit to learn and can be caught out of position, but he has a good career in front of him.

In attack Darius Vassell and Benjani are most likely to face Spurs.  After the farago that was the transfer from Portsmouth, Benjani has scored the goal that beat United and that was what he was signed for, as City lacked a regular goalscorer.  He's got one in four, but always seems to get in promising positions and this season had been scoring well for low-scoring Portsmouth and now he has to do the same for City.  Missing Valeri Bojinov, who injured himself early on in his City career for the rest of the season and with big Belgian Emile Mpenza out of the reckoning, Mexican Nery Castillo, Daniel Sturridge, Geovanni and Filipe Caicedo of Ecuador are in contention to play up front.  While former Villa man Vassell has been given the nod, his pace is not what it was and another partner might be used in the mix to spice things up.  Sturridge is the flavour of the month, being a young player who many clubs have been interested in (including Tottenham in the past) and he looks fast and strong.  Castillo and Caicedo, I have not seen a lot of and there will be an element of surprise in what they can do, although Spurs will have done their homework on them.  Geovanni has been used sparingly, more often coming from the bench, but he has scored a few goals and tends to find the runs down the channels between the full backs and the central defenders.  A player who will need to be watched.

Luckily for Spurs, the dangerous Bulgarian winger Martin Petrov will miss the game after being sent off against Everton and influential veteran midfielder Dietmar Hamann is also suspended.  With Michael Johnson fit again, he is in the middle of the four in midfield with Elano, the cultured Brazilian.  He has made a name for himself in the Premier League this season with some stunning goals from free-kicks and his passing, which has set up a number of chances.  His influence on the game will need to be reduced by our midfield.  Stephen Ireland, who is industrious and has a habit of popping up where the ball drops to score long range goals will play in one of the wide positions with Gelson taking the other, although he has been another signing who has not hit the heights expected of him so far.

Having drawn with Wigan and lost to Reading in their last two games, the light blues will be looking to get back among the points with a win on home turf to kick start their run-in, which sees them with an outside chance of getting a UEFA Cup place.  For Spurs, there is only pride and prize money to play for, as well as a place at the club next season.

Tiredness from their recent extra time exertions might restrict who plays and how they play, but a draw will be a suitable outcome, as we still have goals in us and City do not ...

PREDICTION : -  Manchester City  1   Tottenham Hotspur   1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


MANCHESTER CITY :  Micah Richards (knee); Nedum Onuoha (hamstring); Martin Petrov (suspended); Dietmar Hamann (suspended); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Gareth Bale (foot); Ricardo Rocha (groin); Younes Kaboul (knee); Ledley King (calf); - (-); 


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click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




Manchester City   2   Tottenham Hotspur    1      (Half-time score : 0-1)

Premier League
Venue : -  City of Manchester Stadium
Sunday 16th March 2008
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   40,118
Referee :  Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)
Weather :  -  Mild, damp
Teams : - 
Manchester City :


Dunne (c)

Elano (Caicedo 75)

Benjani (Sun Jihai 88)
Castillo (Vassell 71)

Unused subs: 

Tottenham Hotspur :



Lennon  (Huddlestone 46)
Malbranque  (O'Hara 67)

Keane (c)  (Bent 67)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Manchester City

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Manchester City

Ireland 59
Onouha 72

Tottenham Hotspur

Keane 32

Cards : -  
Manchester City



Tottenham Hotspur 



Match Report : -  
There was a vigour about Tottenham's early play that saw them dominate the first half of this game, but a second half comeback by Manchester City saw them take the points 2-1.

With long periods of possession and territorial dominance, Spurs should really have done more than gone into the break 1-0 ahead.  However, their insistence in overturning possession and not finishing off opponents meant that in the second half, City took the initiative after some Spurs subs to take some of the few chances they created.

In comparison, Tottenham's build up play was much more impressive, but the end product was lacking.  Berbatov had one of those games where he likes to flick the ball on to nobody in particular and the general standard of crossing was very poor.  When Huddlestone came on for Lennon at the break, it allowed the City defence to move forward a bit knowing that the lack of blistering pace would now mean they would not have to leave sufficient space for the back four to sit off the Tottenham forwards and the withdrawal of Keane made it even easier, with Dunne having the ability to deal with the more direct Bent.

With Spurs troubling City with their calm possession game right from the start, it was annoying that there was so few tests provided for Hart in the home goal.  A third minute chance saw Keane beat Onouha on the right side of the box, tight to the dead-ball line, then try to bend it in with the outside of his right foot from an extremely tight angle, while Lennon was in the middle in perhaps a better position.  The Irish striker was almost onto a long ball through from Dawson, but it just ran through for Hart to collect before Keane could reach it.

A series of free-kicks were wasted and Jenas blasted way over the bar when set up after some good passing, but one dead ball did cause problems when Hart came, but got nowhere near the ball and it eventually dropped to Malbranque, who didn't control his shot and it went too high.  25 minutes in, Spurs had an escape when Dawson fell in the way of Johnson's shot as he cut into the box and shouts for a handball went up, but Clattenburg waved them away, giving Spurs a decision for once (don't worry it wasn't to last).  As the ball bounced out but still in the area, Elano drove it back in and missing Benjani's head by inches, Dawson had got back up to block the shot on the line with his body once more.

It worked in Tottenham's advantage, as five minutes later they took the lead.  Malbranque lobbed a pass out to Chimbonda on the left wing, but it looked as though he hadn't put enough weight on the ball.  The full back stretched out a leg and got to it before Corluka could and this left him a free run down the left, but as we all know, he doesn't have a left foot.  However, as Dunne came across to face him, Keane made an incisive run beyond the defender and Chimbonda was able to pass the ball with his right into the striker's path and Keane ran onto it without breaking stride to fire a left foot shot past Hart to hit the inside of the net on the far side of the goal.

It was a well worked goal and nothing more than Tottenham deserved at this stage.

City almost hit back straight away, with Johnson playing the ball beyond Woodgate and Castillo out-paced him, but could not compose himself with his finish and lashed it wide.  Robinson had to be alert a couple of minutes later when Elano hit a low shot from the right side of the area and the keeper blocked it at his near post with a good save.  From a corner, Dunne got the last touch and put his header wide and Lennon had a run at goal and a shot wide from 20 yards, then just before the break, Johnson almost released Castillo again, but Chimbonda made a good saving tackle.

Turning around at 1-0 ahead, Tottenham's approach in this away game was to be interesting.  Maybe Huddlestone's presence rather than Lennon's pace was what Ramos thought might thwart any City backlash.  This might be an eternal dilemma with Lennon.  While his end product is not always great, his sheer presence makes it difficult for defences to relax and that means they are less able to push forward.

Within the first ten minutes of the half, we saw a change with City pushing men up wide and getting chances, which the defence had to hurriedly block.  It was also forcing unnecessary errors and a corner given away without any need was followed by another, then City scored.  Benjani got away down the Tottenham right and crossed, but Castillo completely muffed his shot, but it bounced up in the air, was nodded on by Johnson and Ireland was standing in the six yard box to get enough of a touch on it to turn it into the goal.  The fact that he was off-side when Elano made his header by-passed both the referee and the assistant in that half.

So an hour gone and all square.  Acouple of Spurs corners ended with Huddlestone having a shot charged down and then there were substitutions for both sides.  Malbranque, who was having a bit of a mare and Keane, who was not happy at coming off, were replaced by O'Hara and Bent.  Vassell came on for the ineffective, but lucky, Castillo.

With a break down the Spurs left flank, Vassell won a corner and from it, Dawson and Chimbonda failed to win the ball, leaving Onouha the simple task of nodding the ball powerfully past Robinson in the 72nd minute.  It wasn't as though he had to take a run at it, as the marking was so bad.

It was almost 3-1 when Dawson blocked a Vassell cross and it popped up invitingly off Benjani for Johnson, but he tried to take it on his right foot and the volley went wide.  Spurs broke at the other end and Bent's header dropped in Huddlestone's stride to shoot, but Hart was behind it.  Berbatov woke up to hit a volley at goal, which had Hart scrabbling across goal for an easy save, but he managed to fumble it out for a corner.  The set-piece was cleared, but a free-kick for one in a series of fouls on Hutton by Caicedo was whipped in by Jamie O'Hara.  The ball landed among a group of players and shot in past Hart low at the post, but the linesman had raised his flag early for an off-side against Berbatov, even though he was beyond the far post and not interfering.

Two wild efforts rounded off the match, with O'Hara blazing a cleared corner off for a throw-in on the far side and Caicedo, not knowing what to do when he didn't have to foul anyone, got the ball in the box and took a swing at it, missing the goal by about 15 yards.

It was yet another disappointing away day.  Will this change before the end of the season ?  I hope so, as it will not bode well for next season if it doesn't and we still have to reach the magic 40-point mark.  Manchester City were only marginally better than West Ham, so how we intend to win at Wigan and Blackburn remains to be seen.  Although West Ham managed to beat Rovers !!





Reaction : -



I hope that Ramos sorts the team out after this showing.

Too many players are playing for their summer holiday and while it is not likely, there is still a mathematical possibility that we could go down.  We need to make sure we get to 40 points and then we can perhaps relax a bit.  We saw last week how weak West Ham were and we are still below them.  Let's jump over the Irons.

I am not sure what Ramos is up to with his substitutions against City either.  Couldn't quite see how they would change the game in our favour.

There needs to be a quick improvement and I can see us getting gubbed by Chelsea, who will be up for it, if our players don't put in the effort.


For Wyart Lane's view of the City match, on the Times Online Fanzine Fanzone, click here.




Other scores this weekend :
Arsenal 1 Middlesbrough 1 Saturday
Derby County 0 Manchester United 1 Saturday
Liverpool 2 Reading 1 Saturday
Portsmouth 2 Aston Villa 0 Saturday
Sunderland 0 Chelsea 1 Saturday
West Ham United 2 Blackburn Rovers 1 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 1 Bolton Wanderers 0 Sunday
Fulham 1 Everton 0 Sunday
Birmingham City 1 Newcastle United 1 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 29 21 4 4 59 15 67 +45
2 Arsenal 30 19 10 1 58 22 67 +36
3 Chelsea 29 19 7 3 49 18 64 +31
4 Liverpool 30 16 11 3 55 21 59 +34
5 Everton 30 17 5 8 47 25 56 +22
6 Aston Villa 30 13 10 7 52 39 49 +13
7 Manchester City 30 13 9 8 36 34 48 +2
8 Portsmouth 30 14 8 8 44 31 47 +13
9 Blackburn Rovers 30 12 10 8 39 37 47 +2
10 West Ham United 30 13 7 11 33 35 43 -3
11 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 29 9 8 12 54 47 35 +7
12 Wigan Athletic 30 8 7 15 26 40 31 -14
13 Middlesbrough 30 7 10 13 27 44 31 -17
14 Newcastle United 30 7 8 15 31 57 29 -26
15 Reading 30 8 4 18 35 57 28 -22
16 Birmingham City 30 6 9 15 34 46 27 -12
17 Sunderland 30 7 6 17 26 48 27 -22
18 Bolton Wanderers 29 6 7 16 28 43 25 -15
19 Fulham 30 4 11 15 27 49 23 -22
20 Derby County 30 1 7 22 14 64 10 -50


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