OPPONENTS Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Saturday 20th April 2019
PREVIEW Writing this on Good Friday, Spurs had a good Wednesday and will they have a good Saturday ?  Well, realistically, it is unlikely to happen, as City will adopt an aggressive approach to get revenge for their exit from the Champions League at our hands (quite literally, if you listen to them).  Not only will they want to win the game, but we will see the side of their game that Pep will have brought from Barcelona, which is in stark contrast to heir taki-taka football.

Their manager will not make the mistake of leaving Sane, de Bruyne and Ferdnandinho on the bench and out will go Laporte too, as he was rubbish in both legs against us, probably being replaced by Stones.  Having had a lot of joy on the flanks, expect plenty of service to the wide men to try and carve out openings with balls into the box.

Spurs must try and match the intensity of their play from Wednesday, but that may be difficult both in terms of replicating the energy shown after the emotion of getting past City, but also in terms of personnel, as new injuries were picked up to add to those already being suffered.  It will take a Herculean effort, but we need the points, as do City, who are chasing what is left of their quadruple.

While I would love it, absolutely love it if we could repeat the performance of Wednesday, but with a positive result.  Howevr, I fear the reality will be somewhat different ...

PREDICTION Manchester City    2        Tottenham Hotspur    1
Premier League Kick off 12:30
Manchester City  1 (1)  
Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)

Foden 4m 16s



Crowd :   54,489 Weather :  Warm, sunny
Referee :  Michael Oliver (Northumberland) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Stuart Burt; Mr. Simon Bennett
Fourth Official :  Chris Kavanagh  
Manchester City kicked off and played towards the South Stand in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 7 minutes.
Sterling (handbags with Vertonghen)  90+3


Wanyama (foul on Fernandinho)  86
Vertonghen  (handbags with Sterling)  90+3


Manchester City : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit

  2  Kyle WALKER
14  Aymeric LAPORTE
5  John STONES
35  Oleksander ZINCHENKO

17  Kevin de BRUYNE  (25  FERNANDINHO  38)
  8  Ilkay GUNDOGAN
47  Ben FODEN    (21  David SILVA  85)
20  Bernardo SILVA

  7  Raheem STERLING     

10  Sergio AGUERO  ( 19  Leroy SANE 66)

Unused subs: 
49  Arijanet MURIC
30  Nicolas OTAMENDI
26  Riyad MAHREZ
33  Gabriel JESUS

  22  Paulo GAZZANIGA

21  Juan FOYTH
Toby ALDERWEIRELD  (18  Fernando LLORENTE  78)
  5  Jan VERTONGHEN (c)     
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
33  Ben DAVIES

20  DELE Alli  (  3  Danny ROSE  69)
15  Eric DIER  (12  Victor WANYAMA  61     )

27  Lucas MOURA
23  Christian ERIKSEN

  7  Heung-Min SON

Unused subs: 
13  Michel VORM
16  Kyle WALKER
  Vincent JANSSEN
  Oliver SKIPP


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

For the second time in three days, Tottenham lost to Manchester City at the Etihad, but whereas in Wednesday's game, City were outstanding and Spurs clinical, this game showed that the sides were not able to replicate those characteristics, with Tottenham losing to the game's only goal.

The effort and emotion of the Champiosn League game must have taken its toll on the players, Spurs made five changes, while City made only In came Dier, Foyth, Davies, Sanchez, Gazzaniga for Sissoko, Lloris, Rose, Alderweireld and Trippier.  City started Foden for only the second time, with Stones in for Kompany, Zinchenko for Mendy.  The sun shone down and the flags were out again to try and gee the home crowd up for this game that was a must win for their title hopes.   For Spurs, it was a must win to keep their noses clear of the pack chasing them for a Champions League placing for next season.

While City had a lot of possession for the first two minutes, Stones presented the ball to Moura in midfield and Eriksen had soon put the ball into Son’s path down the left. He shimmied past Stoned and rasped a shot at Ederson’s near post that the keeper had to beat out. Spurs held out for at least a little longer than on Wednesday, but when Bernardo Silva floated a ball to the far post from the right, Aguero headed back across goal for Foden to dive in and head home from a yard out. Aguero was totally unmarked and nobody had picked up Foden’s run, so it was a poor goal to let in. 4m 16s City were being allowed to fly in and get away with it, while every Spurs challenge brought a whistle from Oliver. Aguero’s exercised excessive force on Moura, but only got a talking to and Foden brought Lucas down from behind and didn’t even get that. To say Oliver was being lenient was an understatement.

By the time it got to 12 minutes, it was still 1-0. Boring !

A great move down Tottenham’s right saw a first time pass by Son to Moura, who played Eriksen into the box. With Laporte looking to pull him back, he did enough (illegally) to put him off, with the shot that Christian got in, saved by Ederson for a corner. Spurs opened up the City defence once again, when Dele and Moura won the ball in their own half, then Eriksen sent a brilliant pass behind Laporte and Son ran in on goal, but the ball held up on the grass and the defender got back to block his shot with a very good piece of defending. Tottenham had created a couple of decent chances and there was a hint that they could benefit from the loose City back four.

Bernardo Silva threw a hissy fit when Jan tackled him excellently, then beat four players as he took  the ball out of defence. Silva carried on his whingeing for a good    five minutes !  Foden struck a shot from the 18 yard line that Gazzaniga took in his midriff. Around the 20-25 minute mark, Spurs were giving the ball away cheaply and in trying to play the ball out from the back, were sloppy, as Paulo gave away a corner with a poor pass. Also, Spurs were losing the ball too easily in the tackle, allowing City to build pressure on the Spurs goal. It was strange, as City were winning and at the Spurs end for much of the time, but their fervent support of Wednesday was missing, as all you could hear was Spurs fans singing “Super Jan Vertonghen” ! Silva’s mood wasn’t improved when Dele did the most outrageous nutmeg on him !

Sterling looked to come inside onto his right foot when he got in the box, but Juan Foyth made a fantastic tackle to block him. Spurs gave the ball away in their defensive third and Foden crossed,  Spurs cleared and Silva drove a daisy-cutter in on goal, but it was straight at Gazzaniga before De Bruyne blazed an effort well wide. Paulo fumbled a Zinchenko cross, low at his near post, wide for a  corner just before de Bruyne went off injured and it looked like a bad one, so Guardiola  brought on  Fernandinho in his place. Spurs did have one attack five minutes before the break, when they won  the ball in midfield and Son’s pass was a little behind  Dele, slowing the move down, but they kept it going and Foyth put a good ball into the goalmouth, but Ederson beat Moura to it. Aguero nut-megged Sanchez on the edge of the box, although Foyth prevented him getting any further, but the ball ran to Walker, who impetuously drilled a shot over the bar. It was an unusually hot day and the effort both teams were putting in, with City playing the rump of their side from Wednesday, you wondered if they would wilt in the heat. Sonny wasn’t, as Dele won the ball down in our own corner and the ball was played up to the Korean on the halfway line, He brilliantly turned three players in one movement and raced away, but in trying to get the ball onto his left foot, he allowed Ederson to close him down and save to his right.

At the start of the second half, Lucas had a chance to run at the home defence, but took a heavy  touch that allowed the run to be blocked. City almost scored three minutes in, as Walker ran up the right, but was blocked off and it fell for Aguero. His shot was blocked and the home support pleaded for handball by Alderweireld, but again, it dropped for City and Foden crashed a shot a long way wide. Ageuro was soon on the floor again, as Jan made a clean tackle and Ageuro was left limping.

Foden was soon on the floor as he flung himself to the floor looking for a penalty. It was shameful and Oliver let it go without comment. The Etihad roof was nearly lifted off when City were awarded a free kick against Davies.  The ref gave a soft free-kick to City for a good piece of defending by Foyth on Sterling, who went down shouting for a foul as soon as it happened. It took nearly an hour before I realised that Gundogan was playing as the City midfield trundled through the match. Spurs should have had a penalty, but, of course, Oliver didn’t see it when Dele chested the ball down and Walker knocked it away with his left hand. The corner brought another one and from that Dier got there too early for a free header that went high behind the goal. Walker then stamped on Dele’s foot but won a free-kick when  Dele tackled back at him. With this sort of decision going their way, I would stick some money on them doing the treble. From the free- kick, Fernandinho drifted in unmarked to head it over the bar, when he should have done better.

Once more, Tottenham voices rang out with “When The Spurs Go Marching In” echoing around the ground, before the City fans stirred themselves into action. With the knock he took and the opportunity to add some pace to their attack, Pep brought on Sane for Aguero with 25 minutes left. Foyth dwelt on the ball too long and Sane took it Wanyama had replaced Dier on the hour and he won the ball off Silva in the box and played the ball out, with Eriksen playing a fine pass to Son, but it was a little too high and he got his head to it, but Laporte got the ball as it dropped. Poch rested Dele, with Danny Rose coming on, Alderweireld’s 70th minute long pass picked out Son, who tried to bring it inside and Laporte stopped it with his arm. Guess what the decision was ? A minute later, Sane went down the left, pulled the ball ack low to Sterling and from a couple of yards out, Gazzaniga’s right foot kept the ball out twelve inches from the goal-line.

It was another long pass straight through the middle of the City defence, from a free-kick for a foul  on Davies by Fernandinho (surprise, surprise), that saw Moura win the ball in the air and as City defenders stood off, he got the second ball and only Ederson’s advance blocked his shot. It came off Stones first and unlike Rose’s touch on Wednesday, they had the luck to keep it out.  The chances seemed to give Tottenham a little more confidence, passing the ball better and realising that the long pass put fear into the City defence’s mind, not   knowing who should defend it first.  With thirteen minutes remaining, Pochettino threw on Fernando Llorente for Alderweireld. Silva again play-acted looking for a booking for Rose, who took the ball out for a throw-in and the City midfielder rolled around like a man in his death throes. It had rattled City and Spurs were pressing higher up and City gave the ball away that created a shot for Eriksen that was blocked and then Moura followed-up, firing over the bar.

Sterling’s frustration also showed when he ran into Sanchez, strongly pushing him with both hands  in the Spurs defender’s chest, but Oliver settled for a talking to again.   Foyth was doing a fine job on stopping his opponent cutting inside, seeing off Sterling, then Sane, before Sterling switched back to  his side and having the ball taken from him with great positioning. David Silva came on for Foden as Guardiola threw his final card on the table. Ironically (or not, as it was quite expected and the ref  /hadn’t given a foul for Spurs when Sterling pulled down Foyth in the build up to the ball running free  in midfield), Spurs had the first player in the book, with Wanyama getting a yellow four a foul on Fernandinho. Consistency isn’t something that features in Oliver’s vocabulary.  Danny Rise had a little run forward to 25 yards out, but he dragged his shot wide. No City player moved out to him, as they were looking petrified every time Spurs went forward. Sterling was standing in front of the ball at a free-kick with nothing done, as City tried to prevent Tottenham going forward as four added minutes went up. The City forward then got involved with Vertonghen, pulling him down off the pitch as Spurs won a throw. So, what did Oliver do ? Book both Sterling and Jan. Bottled it again.

City were losing it, as Fernandinho barged over Rose with no intent on getting the ball. Sterling then wanted a free-kick for Jan pulling him back, followed byGundogan diving to get a free-kick when nobody was near him. This time it was City kicking the ball anywhere as they panicked with time running down.  Spurs showed that they are able to live with sides like City, who played like a team top of the table in the first half and a bunch of Sunday league players at the end. With VAR in play here, Tottenham would have easily had a point or more. It was an awful performance by the referee, who shirked taking proper action to protect players and then booked others for less than he had allowed to go unpunished.

Our performance showed that City are not invincible, even with half our first-choice players missing.   They were shaky at the back, providing chances that Ederson was mainly responsible for keeping out. It was a defeat, but not one that should damage the team’s confidence. With games coming  thick and fast, the thought that we should have had a stonewall penalty and more than nothing coming out of the game. City were less than convincing and the fact that they are vying with Liverpool for the title, just shows what a few refereeing decisions can do for you.

It leaves us needing to win all our remaining games to end up in the top four, so with any luck the misfortune we experienced here will even itself out over the course of the season.  Next season's introduction of VAR into the Premier League might sort some of these issues out, but knowing our luck, it will probably resolve decisions against us !

Gary Sampson

Match facts


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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Bournemouth 0 Fulham 1 Saturday
Huddersfield Town 1 Watford 2 Saturday
Southampton 3 Newcastle United 1 Saturday
West Ham United London 2 Leicester City 2 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Saturday
Everton 4 Manchester United 0 Sunday
Cardiff City 0 Liverpool 2 Sunday
Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 3 Sunday
Chelsea 2 Burnley 2 Monday


League Table  2018-19
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 35 27 7 1 79 20 88 +59
2 Manchester City 34 28 2 4 87 22 87 +65
3 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 34 22 1 11 64 35 67 +29
4 Chelsea 35 20 7 8 59 38 67 +21
5 Arsenal 34 20 6 8 68 43 66 +25
6 Manchester United 34 19 7 8 63 48 64 +15
7 Everton 35 14 7 14 50 44 49 +6
8 Watford 34 14 7 13 49 49 49 0
9 Leicester City 35 14 6 15 50 46 48 +1
10 Wolverhampton Wanderers 34 13 9 12 41 42 48 -1
11 West Ham United London 35 12 8 15 44 54 43 -10
12 Crystal Palace 35 12 6 17 43 48 42 -5
13 Newcastle United 35 11 8 16 35 44 42 -9
14 Bournemouth 35 12 5 18 49 62 41 -13
15 Burnley 34 11 6 17 42 60 39 -18
16 Southampton 34 9 9 15 40 57 36 -17
17 Brighton & Hove Albion 34 9 7 18 32 53 34 -21
18 Cardiff City 34 8 4 22 30 65 31 -35
19 Fulham 35 6 5 23 33 76 23 -43
20 Huddersfield Town 35 3 5 27 20 69 14 -49


Position before match :  3rd
Position after match :  3rd
Position after the weekend :  3rd


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