OPPONENTS Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Saturday 17th August 2019
PREVIEW Some people suggested that it was a good time for West Ham United London to play Manchester City last week before they got a hammering 5-0.  I reckon a good time to play Manchester City would have been about 1998 when they were rubbish and the only knowledge of Abu Dhabi was a punch-line to a Flintstones joke.

They have come a long way since then, with the UAE money propelling them to the Premier League title on more occasions than they had previously won it and other domestic cups, but the one they really want to win - the Champions League - has so far eluded the expensive squad and their highly successful, supposedly uber-cool manager Pep Guardiola.   Wherever he has been in charge, he has had lots of money to spend and at City, he arguably has the best squad available to him and thus, his team are installed as favourites to win this season's PL.

While Liverpool ran them close last season, it will be a major task for them and us (or anyone else) to get close, with Rodrigo added to their squad's defence.  However, are Spurs ready to start moving into the territory of signing big money players now that the training ground and stadium are in place ?  They still have to be paid for, but with a huge amount of match-day income from tickets and catering and the stadium naming rights still to be sold are we set to step up to challenge for expensive signings and pay top salaries.

Obviously, contracts and transfers have been much to the fore this week, with potentially five players leaving Spurs before the European window closes.  The biggest question mark is over Christian Eriksen, who made it clear he wanted a new challenge and that meant Spain, but lack of bids means he may be in limbo of staying with Spurs for another season and running his contract down, signing a new deal with the club or settling for a move abroad that wasn't the one he wanted.  For Daniel Levy, it is a balancing act between wanting to get some money back on the player or having him for another season, but getting no return on his investment.  The Dane made quite a difference when he came on against Villa, making me think he might be worth keeping.

I imagine he will return, as will the man omitted last week - Jan Vertonghen.  While Jan probably wanted to play against Villa, my first thought was that Poch was saving him for the City game.  I imagine that Sanchez's height might just have swung it playing up against the strapping Wesley, although it didn't pay off when they scored.  This season will see Mauricio mix and match, depending on the opponents and I think part of his summer moan was to have a squad that allowed him to do this.  That will be undermined if Rose, Alderweireld, Wanyama, Vertonghen or Eriksen disappear before September 2nd.

With Son suspended, Dele, Foyth and Sessegnon injured, it further limits his ability to put out the team he might want against City.  There is no way of stifling City, although Liverpool seem to have the sign over them.  They have pace up front, can play through the middle and have wide players who can stretch you across the pitch.  It allows them massive variety in the way they can play, but Spurs have the win over them at their place in the Champions League to hark back to.  Laporte didn't look great that night and Stones is vulnerable when trying to play out from the back.  Rodrigo got caught a few times on the ball last week, so perhaps a hard pressing game might force errors, although, if they play around that it is possible to break quickly.

With lo Celso only arriving late last week, I think he might start on the bench, with Eriksen starting, but the bulk of the side will remain the same.  Jan for Toby and Ben Davies back for Danny Rose, perhaps, but I would stick with Rose for this game, rather than throw Ben straight in after a while out. 

Having seen the ease in which the City side strolled through West Ham's team, I would like to think that this is a reflection on the Irons rather than City being able to do that every week, but our record up there hasn't been great over recent years (Champions League quarter final and Champions League qualifying win with Crouch scoring the winner apart).

If it is possible to bring anything back from Manchester, it would be great, but more realistically, I think we are looking at a loss if City play anything like their potential and we need to be sharper than the last time we played there, letting one in inside the first five minutes and also better than last week, when we made Villa look like title contenders for a large part of an hour.

PREDICTION Manchester City    3        Tottenham Hotspur    1
Spurs can welcome back Ben Davies after undergoing surgery in the summer and new signing Giovani Lo Celso looks set to make the match-day squad.  Ryan Sessegnon and Dele Alli are both ruled out with hamstring problems, while Heung-Min Son and Juan Foyth are both suspended, with Foyth also suffering an ankle tendon strain.

Fernandinho is fit to return for Manchester City, but Leroy Sane's knee ligament injury will sideline him for a few months.


Sky Sports Premier League - live coverage
Match of the Day BBC 1  (Highlights) Saturday 22.30; Sunday 09.00
Match of the Day 2  (Highlights)  Sunday 22.30
Sky Sports - Goals on Sunday  (Highlights)  Sunday 11.30; 20.30

For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152  (live coverage)
Commentary may be found on
>   BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW
TalkSport (DAB or 2nd89 MW)
Absolute Radio  (1215 AM/MW)

Internet :
The THFC Official website   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London -  Live commentaries listed down the page.
TalkSport (DAB or 1089 MW)

Premier League Kick off 17:30
Manchester City  2 (2)  
Tottenham Hotspur  2 (1)

Sterling 19m 14s
Aguero  34m 00s


Lamela 22m 37s
Moura 55m 50s

Crowd :   54,503 Weather :  Warm, sunny
Referee : Michael Oliver (Northumberland) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Stuart Burt ; Mr. Steve Bennett
Fourth Official :  Paul Tierney  
Video Assistant Referee :  Graham Scott VAR Assistant  :  Andy Halliday
Manchester City kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 8 minutes.
Sterling (foul on Walker-Peters)  26




Manchester City : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit

  2  Kyle WALKER
14  Aymeric LAPORTE
  Nicolas OTAMENDI
11  OleksandR ZINCHENKO

17  Kevin de BRUYNE  (c)
16  RODRIGO  (21  David SILVA)
  8  Ilkay GUNDOGAN

20  Bernardo SILVA  (26  Riyad MAHREZ  80)
10  Segio AGUERO    (  9  Gabriel JESUS  66)
  7  Raheem STERLING      

Unused subs: 
  Claudio BRAVO
27  Joao CANCELO
47  Phil FODEN

    1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
  3  Danny ROSE

28  Tanguy NDOMBELE
Harry WINKS  (27  Lucas MOURA  56  )

17  Moussa SISSOKO
11  Erik LAMELA    (18  Giovani LO CELSO  85)
Christian ERIKSEN  (29  Oliver SKIPP  90+1)

10  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 

Manager :  Pep Guardiola Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   Etihad Airways Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Puma Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

Controversy once again dominated the after-game discussions about the last minute disallowed goal by VAR for Manchester City that prevented them securing a 3-2 win, which their play might have deserved, but Tottenham conversion of two of their three chances brought a point back from the North-West.

Pochettino restored Eriksen to the side and kept Rose in and Vertonghen side-lined, although on the bench this time.  City were at more or less full strength, only missing Leroy Sane, who will miss the majority of the season with a cruciate ligament injury that put a stop to his move to Bayern Munich.

For the first five minutes, Spurs could hardly get near the ball and had trouble playing the ball to a navy blue shirt and when Walker got away on their right past Sanchez, he squared it for Sterling, but Walker-Peters blocked his shot. When the ball came back in after the corner was cleared, de  Bruyne scuffed a weak effort along the ground and straight at Hugo Lloris. A couple more corners were won when Spurs were blocking the ball, with the second to the near post, where Rodrigo went down under Lamelaís challenge, with Erikís arms all over him, but not really exerting enough effort to make it a nailed-on penalty. As it was, the VAR team didnít think it worth brining to the refereeís attention.

Spurs got into the City penalty area after 15 minutes, when they broke on City and Sissokoís right wing cross was a little too high for Lamela at the back stick and then Moussa ended a great run by Walker-Peters, who out-paced Sterling, but when the ball was played to Sissoko, he had gone offside.  From that free-kick, City moved forward on the right and de Bruyneís cross found Sterling coming in behind the Spurs defence to head the ball across Lloris to give City the lead in the 20th minute, Spurs should have been aware of the runs that the England winger makes, so, leaving him a free run was going to end up with the inevitable.

When Tottenham did put a few passes together, Ndombele played a straight ball from the edge of the centre circle in Cityís half to Lamela and he moved it forward a couple of strides and side-footed the ball low past Edersonís dive to his right to level the scores. It was a very good pass and a well taken chance that hadnít looked like happening in the previous 22 minutes, but the keeper's positioning to the left of the middle of his goal must be questioned.

With the game settling into a bit of a midfield battle, de Bruyne suddenly produced a low ball into the near past from the right and Aguero made his run timed to perfection to steer the ball deftly across Hugo and into the net for 2-1 on 34 minutes. It was a well made goal, but again, we needed to be closer to the man who scored, but also closer to the man who put the ball across.

De Bruyne was put into the same position he created the goal form and this time he pulled it back to the penalty area and Gundogan tried to turn it in first time but put his shot a foot wide of Hugoís left post. And the goalkeeper had to be sharp when Sterling played the ball back to Zinchenko, 25 yards out and although his shot didnít pack much punch, it almost squirmed out of Hugoís grasp. Trying to play the ball around de Bruyne, Hugo nearly lost the ball a few yards out from goal, but Davinson used his strength to hold them off and it was tricky to work the ball out of the danger area.  Bernardo Silva was trying to get around Rose, Sissoko and Sanchez with some drag-backs, but when the ball went high into the air, Rose was determined to make it his and Silva didnít go for the ball and was distressed that the free-kick went against him. It wasnít the first foul he had made and certainly not the first on Rose.

Half-time saw the teams depart for their team-talks, but we wondered how Pochettino might change the side to spark a bit more attacking play to push City back. Both teams remained the same as Spurs got the second half underway.

Pushing onto the Spurs back four and playing so high up, Spurs needed to find some runners from deep to get behind City. In contrast, City were able to pick passes out from their back four and de Bruyne moved into the space in front of him and Alderweireld had to block his shot. From the corner, the ball went to Zinchenko on the left and Lloris had to make a good stop to keep his effort out after it took a deflection off Harry Kaneís leg. City wanted a penalty from it, when Rodrigo ran into Sanchez.

Sterling and Aguero set up de Bruyne for a shot, but the City captain fired it wide from the edge of the box, then Sterling set up Aguero running off him to his left, but he blazed it too high. Bernardo Silva had a better chance when Ndombele tried to intercept and it went straight into the City manís run, but he put a low shot too close to Lloris to allow him to save. Lloris also had to be alert, when Sterling burst into the box and Hugo timed his rush out well to block the run.

Spurs finally got a bit of possession in the opposition half and it ended when Lamela lifted a ball into the box and Eriksen tried to chest it down, but it was cleared for a corner. Winks went off before it was taken and when the ball came in from Lamelaís right wing corner kick, substitute Lucas Moura beat Walker in the air to guide the ball past Ederson to pull Spurs back to 2-2. A fantastic substitution by Poch, who saw Lucas score 19 seconds after entering the game, but that was just waiting for the corner to be taken.

Walker-Peters got caught in possession by Sterling and although he didnít do anything with it, the ball came to Rodrigo and his shot was pushed over the bar by Lloris. Hugo wasnít quite as convincing when the ball came in, as his attempted punch didnít get the ball and Bernardo Silva turned the ball towards goal. With Danny Rose on the line, the ball dropped onto the bar and Hugo pounced on it before Otamendi could react. Rose was in action again from  the next corner, when a vicious ball into the six-yard box forced him to make a very good clearance. Danny was involved again when Aguero made out he had been pole-axed when Rose stood his ground in the box. It was an embarrassing piece of play-acting and followed de Bruyneís dive when Sanchez didnít touch him as he went to go past him.

Sanchez showed good determination to block substitute Jesusí shot after he ran into the box and when Sissoko was brushed off the ball, a cross from the left found Jesus, but as he tried to bring the ball down, just a few yards out, Toby flew in to make a great challenge and force the striker to put his effort wide. Ndombele was looking tired, as he did in the second half last week, but it was City who made a change, with David Silva coming on for Rodrigo. Before that, Moura got to the ball before Zinchenko after keeping the ball in well, but his ball across for Kane was cut out by Otamendi. City broke from our corner but Jesus got in the way of his cross-field pass aimed at Bernardo Silva.  When de Bruyneís cross flicked off Rose, Jesus beat Walker-Peters in the air and his header went narrowly wide of Hugoís right hand post. With ten minutes left, Tottenham seemed to drop deeper and City brought Mahrez on for Bernardo Silva. Spurs had a breakaway, when Sissoko and Moura linked well on the right, but Lamelaís pass that was intended for Kane was blocked and the chance was gone. Pochettino took Erik off and Giovani Lo Celso came on for his debut.

Ndombele nicked the ball off a couple of City players as they looked to get into the box and Pochettino brought on Oliver Skipp on the 90 minute mark, taking off Christian Eriksen to add some fresh legs to the side. When Lo Celso had come on, he slotted into the right of midfield, with Moura moving to the left. However, with Zinchenko suffering with a pulled hamstring, but having to continue with City having made all their subs. It would have seemed to make sense to play Moura against a struggling full back.

Anyway, another corner came in and a mis-directed header fell to Gabriel Jesus, who took a touch and curled the ball past defenders and keeper into the bottom corner of the net to hand City an injury time winner 91 37. But history repeated itself, with City fans being silenced when the screen showed that the goal was disallowed by VAR, which picked up that the ball had touched Laporteís arm and that earned Tottenham a point with two of their three shots on target producing goals. While City had the lionís share of possession and many more shots than Spurs, but only eight on target. Spurs defended well, but that was because City were using the space that they found and were pressing hard to make it difficult to play the way we wanted. Why lese would Kane have had so few touches and was fouled so often ?

We didnít park the bus but tried to frustrate City as much as possible. Not one of our best performances, but as happened last week, we did enough to get something from the match. It isnít possible to go for all out attack every game and with injuries and suspension preventing Pochettino from putting out his strongest side, it is a good point to take away from the Etihad.

Fortunate maybe, but you make your own and ride your luck, while City were very good on the day, restricting the way that Tottenham were able to operate, but there will be hard matches like this and to improve on our result of last season there shows that there is a grit and determination to get something from games that may be looking to go against you.  And at least we didn't ship 5 !!

Stanford Rivers

Match facts

Hugo Lloris makes his 300th Spurs appearance.

Danny Rose makes his 200th Spurs appearance.

How the players did
Hugo Lloris A couple of goals went past him and he had a dodgy moment when coming to punch the ball, but made a couple of good saves to prevent the margin being bigger before our equaliser.
Kyle Walker-Peters Solid game up against the threat of Sterling and with little assistance.  Stuck at it, made well-timed challenges and was willing to look for a pass out of defence.  Lost Sterling for the first goal though.
Toby Alderweireld Played a good game with City on the offensive.  Could have done better with Aguero's goal, but that would probably have resulted in a penalty !
Davinson Sanchez Played well and read some of City's passing to intercept.  Strong in the air and concentrated well when under pressure for much of the game.
Danny Rose Good performance again from Danny Rose.  Doesn't look like a player who wants to leave.
Harry Winks Did well to try and stem the tide of City's attack through the middle.  Showed his usual determination and the whole of the midfield needed to put in a lot of effort
Tanguy Ndombele Subdued game for the new signing, but he stuck at it and got his foot in when needed.  More to come from him, I'm sure, as a couple of runs showed and his pass set up Lamela's goal.
Moussa Sissoko Good, strong running and getting back behind the ball well.  Final ball could have hurt City more, but did well.
Erik Lamela Scored one; made one.  Not a bad day's work, although pundits seem to think he should have been penalised for being all over Rodrigo in the box when goal-less.  Put in a lot of effort.
Christian Eriksen A game in which we needed Christian to help us get forward saw a lethargic display, although his passing was generally good.  Not sure what is going on with his contract at the moment.
Harry Kane A game he will probably want to forget, being starved of service and having very little involvement in play, but still worked hard to pull defenders out of position.
Lucas Moura Made an immediate impact with his goal and worked hard to press City defenders on the ball.
Giovani Lo Celso Came on for his first Spurs outing, but hardly had a touch, so difficult to judge how he will fit in.
Oliver Skipp Busy coming on in added time, but made a good block and got a challenge onto Laporte, forcing him to handle and thus get the goal disallowed.

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What you thought
Benny The Ball Don't know what City fans are complaining about with their last minute goal being disallowed.  Most of them weren't even in the stadium then !
Steve Chandler City fans want it all don't they ?

Last season they wanted a handball against Llorente in the Champions League game up there and now their moaning has changed the laws, they want them changed back because it went against them.  Expect a big money move for Manchester City to buy VAR !

- -.



Other scores during this week :
Arsenal 2 Burnley 1 Saturday
Aston Villa 1 Bournemouth 2 Saturday
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 West Ham United London 1 Saturday
Norwich City 3 Newcastle United 1 Saturday
Everton 1 Watford 0 Saturday
Southampton 1 Liverpool 2 Saturday
Sheffield United 1 Crystal Palace 0 Sunday
Frank Lampard's Chelsea 1 Leicester City 1 Sunday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Manchester United 1 Monday


League Table  2019-20
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 2 2 0 0 6 2 6 +4
2 Woolwich Wanderers 2 2 0 0 3 1 6 +2
3 Manchester City 2 1 1 0 7 2 4 +5
4 Brighton & Hove Albion 2 1 1 0 4 1 4 +3
5 Manchester United 2 1 1 0 5 1 4 +4
6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 1 1 0 5 3 4 +2
7 Bournemouth 2 1 1 0 3 2 4 +1
8 Sheffield United 2 1 1 0 2 1 4 +1
9 Everton 2 1 1 0 1 0 4 +1
10 Burnley 2 1 0 1 4 2 3 +2
11 Norwich City 2 1 0 1 4 5 3 -1
12 Leicester City 2 0 2 0 1 1 2 0
13 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 0 2 0 1 1 2 0
14 Crystal Palace 2 0 1 1 0 1 1 -1
15 Frank Lampard's Chelsea 2 0 1 1 1 5 1 -4
16 West Ham United London 2 0 1 1 1 6 1 -5
17 Aston Villa 2 0 0 2 2 5 0 -3
18 Newcastle United 2 0 0 2 1 4 0 -3
19 Southampton 2 0 0 2 1 5 0 -4
20 Watford 2 0 0 2 0 4 0 -4

Position before match :  9th
Position after match :  5th
Position after the weekend :  6th


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