OPPONENTS Manchester City
COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Sunday 22nd January 2012
VENUE Eastlands






Spurs approach the match at Eastlands in good heart despite dropping two points to Wolves last week, but City will also be confident, having home advantage and that is what might eventually count in their favour.  Not that Tottenham have been bad away from home, but with the backing of a large support and being unbeaten at home, City will think they are favourites.

Which may suit Spurs, with the ability to hit on the break at great pace, attack is City's great weapon, but then, it is Tottenham's too, although the defence has been tight this season even though the back four has changed regularly.  City's keeper Joe Hart is highly regarded, but he has his faults and does not always get his angles right, but is quick off his line and is a good shot-stopper.  In front of him, City will miss the commanding presence of Vincent Kompany, who was controversially sent off against Manchester United in the FA Cup, but he has been a leader in the middle of the back four and without him there may be a weakness, but Spurs will also be missing Emmanuel Adebayor and that might affect our own ambitions.  Joleon Lescott has been spouting off about how he doesn't regard Spurs as serious contenders, but he needs to look at his own game sometimes, as he is often hesitant and that allows opponents to steal a march on him.  He can also be too impetuous in the tackle sometimes, committing himself and allowing players to go by him.  He is good in the air though and while Spurs are not, he could pose problems from set-pieces.

The full backs like to get forward, with Micah Richards returning to the team, with some pundits saying he is playing his best football and looks set for the England Euro 2012 squad.  It will be an interesting comparison with Kyle Walker diagonally across the pitch to him and looking to book a trip to Poland and Ukraine too.  Aleksander Kolarov has been in and out the side, but is pretty quick and has an explosive shot from dead ball situations, but his defensive abilities are sometimes questionable, with players running at him and getting him on the turn resulting in him fouling them - inside or outside the box.  Lennon might have some joy up against him, especially if he can double up with Walker on that flank.

Without the two Toures in the side, there are defensive options, but they are limited to ex-Gooner Clichy, the out of favour Wayne Bridge and Nedum Onuoha or the workmanlike Pablo Zabaleta.  Central defender Stefan Savic could play, but was a bit exposed in the Liverpool League Cup semi, so might not be risked in what City see as a crunch game.

Even as City start to clear the decks a bit with Onuoha and Tevez in talks about leaving, there is still more than enough quality throughout the squad and up front they have it in spades.  Having spend mega-money they can choose from Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and mad Mario Ballotelli.  There are goals in each of them, although Ballotelli is the most unpredictable of the three, but on his day, even he can terrorise defences with his skill on the ball and his ability to finish with a range of goals.  Aguero has a low centre of gravity and is strong, so difficult to knock off the ball, but also has the quality to know when to set up others who are better placed rather than taking on a chance himself, while Dzeko's primary asset is his height, but he is very good with his feet and can run well with the ball.  The Spurs back four will need to be aware of the forwards' movement and that is something that applies even more to the midfield.

City are blessed with a large number of midfielders and while Yaya Toure is missing and that will leave them exposed a little without him protecting the back four, there are enough to choose from to pose an offensive threat.  Another former Gooner Samir Nasri has not been a regular and has not been pulling up trees as expected, but will be up for a game against us, as he usually scores from a dodgy penalty, while alongside him, Gareth Barry will sit in front of the back four and try to break up anything Spurs put together.  It will be another interesting pair up, with Scott Parker playing a similar role for Tottenham.

With Roberto Mancini's  style principally honed in Italian football, he will be looking to get something from the match, so I expect Nigel de Jong to be in the midfield to shake up our four there and maybe even be detailed to track van der Vaart.  The Dutchman in the City side is a destroyer and he will be putting in tackles and laying the ball off to more creative team-mates.  James Milner does a similar job, but I have never seen the value of his contributions, other than he is a willing worker who runs up and down the line.  Not to be sniffed at, but City possess better players than him and with the likes of Adam Johnson and David  Silva, they have match-winners on their day.  Silva has had a very good season and his play on and off the ball has been extremely good.  He moves the ball at pace and his movement is excellent in finding a yard here or there and especially in the area.  If Spurs had signed him three years ago when we were after him, I wonder where we might be now ?  Johnson is not really getting a consistent run in the City side, but he has pace and very good dribbling skills and was another one Tottenham tracked for a while.  He, like Silva, not only creates, but can finish and that means that Brad Friedel might be in for a busy day and I hope that doesn't mean picking the ball out of the back of the net.

Sadly, I think this is a game that will just be beyond Spurs.  Not by much, but City are a formidable force, as we saw at the Lane in the early stages of the season.  While this will not be a repeat of that result, I think there is still a (financial gap) that separates the two sides and with Spurs potentially missing Ledley King as well as Adebayor, the side will be disrupted more than City's absences will hit them.

PREDICTION Manchester City    2      Tottenham Hotspur   1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.
City have lost Yaya Toure and his brother Kolo to the African Cup of Nations, while captain Vincent Kompany is suspended.  There are no injury problems with Mario Balotelli and Micah Richards expected to play after suffering hamstring injuries recently.
Spurs are without loan striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who cannot play against his own club; Tom Huddlestone (ankle) and Sandro and William Gallas (both calf).  Harry Redknapp hopes Ledley King might be able to play despite having been out for two weeks.  .

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Manchester City  3 (0)     
Premier League
Sunday 22nd January 2012                              
Venue :  Eastlands Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur  2 (0)

Kick off 13:30
Nasri 56
Lescott 59
Balotelli (p) 90+
Defoe 60
Bale 65
Clichy (blocking a throw-in) 10
Balotelli (foul) 79


Parker (foul) 52


Crowd :   47,422 Weather :  Dry at start and rained during the game
Referee :  Howard Webb (West Yorkshire) Assistant Referees :  Mr. P. Kirkup; Mr. M. Mullarkey
Fourth Official :  A. Taylor Match Delegate : John Duncan
Professional Game Match Observer : Uriah Rennie
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Lockett end in the first half.
Manchester City : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
25  Hart

  2  Richards (c)
  6  Lescott 
15  Savic
22  Clichy     

  7  Milner
18  Barry
21  Silva
19  Nasri 

16  Aguero
10  Dzeko (45  Balotelli 65       )

Unused subs: 
30  Pantilimon
  5  Zabaleta
13  Kolorov
24  Onouha
11  de Jong
24  Johnson

  24  Friedel

28  Walker
  4  Kaboul
26  King (c)
32  Assou-Ekotto

  7  Lennon (40  Pienaar 88)
  8  Parker     
14  Modric
  3  Bale 

11  van der Vaart (29  Livermore 67)

18  Defoe 

Unused subs: 
19  Bassong
20  Dawson
21  Kranjcar
  9  Pavlyuchenko

Manager :  Roberto Mancini Manager :   Harry Redknapp
Sponsor :   Etihad airways Shirt sponsor :  Aurasma
Kit Supplier :  Umbro Kit Supplier :   Puma
Match report

Ledley King has barely put a foot wrong this season and unfortunately for Spurs, when he did in this match, it cost us a penalty and a losing one at that in the final minute of a thrilling match that ended 3-2 to City.

For a moment it looked as though Spurs might be on the end of another big defeat when City took a surprising 2-0 lead fifteen minutes into the second half, but hitting back immediately and then pulling level, they shocked City into some unsavoury tactics and were on top until the final attack of the game.

Both sides have come a long way since the 5-1 win for City at WHL at the start of the season.  Now, it was Tottenham who were on the better run and despite dropping home points to Wolves, City's unconvincing 1-0 win over Wigan set the game up for a cracking showdown.  Ledley King turned out for Spurs - Always a good thing, while City stuck with Stefan Savic in the middle of defence despite some shaky performances.  Without Adebayor, who couldn't play against his own club, Spurs went with Jermain Defoe on his own up top, with Rafa van der Vaart just behind him.  Resisting the strong-arm pairing of de Jong and Barry in midfield, Mancini chose Nasri and Silva alongside Barry and Milner, who were the workhorses.

Spurs kicked off and were the better side for much of the first half, keeping possession, mostly in City's half, but without crating much threat on the home goal.  The only times they found themselves under pressure was when they gave the ball away cheaply.  With Bale and Lennon keeping close to the by-line and Parker, VDV and Modric moving the ball around infield, Spurs were pushing the light blue shirts back towards their own goal.  When Clichy ran the ball out near the halfway line, Kyle Walker tried to take a quick throw-in that would have seen Aaron Lennon away and his marker stranded further up the field, but the Frenchman jumped to handle the ball to stop it getting there and got a yellow card, even though he seemed to be claiming he was off the pitch, as if that was any defence !  But Spurs did not play on this and with Lennon and Walker on that side, they could have attacked him more, with the yellow card hanging over his head.

City carved out a couple of half chances, with Sergio Aguero's first shot being blocked by Ledley and his second being blocked by Dzeko as they both went for the same ball at the near post.  After 25 minutes, Aguero turned provider for David Silva, who pulled a shot across the goal and wide of the far post from the left and then five minutes later, when Spurs had been sloppy on the ball, Richards played it into the box, where Aguero hit a low shot that Brad Friedel kept out with his legs.  Unfortunately, all Tottenham's efforts were off target or blocked, with Parker, van der Vaart and Kaboul all failing to trouble Hart in the City goal, but both sides were suffering from getting a killer pass away in the last third of the pitch.

It had been Spurs fans who could be heard for most of the first half and City supporters were quiet until they got ahead eleven minutes after the break.  VDV had shot way over, Bale got the ball caught under his feet after some good work on the left ended with Luka Modric's ball into the Welshman and then Scott Parker got booked for a foul on Aguero after chasing him down the touchline for about 30 yards.  but the goal when it came was well-fashioned.  Silva received the ball just left of centre and 40 yards out, then, spotting a run by Samir Nasri inside Kyle Walker, he played the ball down the middle of the pitch and the ex-Arsenal midfielder hammered the ball first time past Friedel from outside the box.  It was not totally against the run of play, but City had not threatened anything like this until the 56th minute.

But then three minutes later they were 2-0 and the score-line definitely did not reflect the play.  Spurs conceded a corner that was flicked on at the near post and when Joleon Lescott came into head the ball, it hit Parker, then Lescott fell on it and the ball trickled over the line, with his body preventing anyone being able to stop it.  2-0 and an hour gone.

Well, not quite an hour, as from the kick off, Kaboul launched a long ball forward that Stefan Savic misjudged and got underneath with his header, leaving it going behind him, where Jermain Defoe reacted with a striker's instinct and took the ball on.  Chesting it into the area, as Joe Hart rushed out, the little striker by-passed him and from a tight angle on the right side of the box, he slid his shot into the net to make it 2-1 and Spurs were back in the game.  It was exactly the sort of chance that he was in the side to score from and he showed his natural finishing ability.

Spurs now had their tails up and so it was no surprise when they equalised five minutes later.  And it was a fine goal too.  Working the ball on the left side of the City midfield, Benny fed Aaron Lennon, who cut inside and pulled the ball square into the path of Bale, who was just left of the D and he hit the ball first time with his instep with pace enough to beat Hart as it curled away from his hand to his left.  In terms of spirit, it was a remarkable comeback and with City leading 2-0, you might have thought that they would shut up shop, but they were forced to back-pedal by the passing an attacking of the Spurs team.

With four goals in ten minutes, it was very hectic and the action didn't stop there, as with the equalising goal, City brought on the controversial Italian striker Mario Balotelli and there was plenty of controversy around him before the game ended.  Spurs made their own change, with Jake Livermore coming on for Rafael van der Vaart, as Harry Looked to stiffen the midfield and push Lennon further forward.  But Livermore joined in the attacks in his first involvements, while picking up the pace of the game.  The ball was moving towards the end that housed the Spurs fans more often now and Modric fired wide from a good position outside the box, then Bale's whipped in cross from the left was headed out, just over his own bar, by Clichy.  From the corner, the ball was knocked back into the D and as Kaboul went for it, Lescott cleared the ball and then cleared Younes out with his forearm.  Surely a sending off had Howard Webb seen it, but like Wenger Magoo, he never sees anything.  Lennon jinked into the box, but couldn't get any force behind his shot.

Going in late on Benny, Balotelli got a yellow card and then five minutes later, Scott Parker blocked an effort by the Italian, who looked like he was tripping over the Spurs midfielder before raking his heel across Parker's head as he lay on the floor.  Webb was a matter of feet away, but did he give a foul or a card ?  Did he hell.  Ineptitude reigns, as if he didn't see it, why didn't his assistant ... or was he too busy looking for offsides ?  It was a sick thing to do and frankly, I find the restraint the Spurs players exerted admirable in the circumstances.  Did Harry wave an imaginary red card ?  Didn't see that happen.

After treatment, Scotty was able to carry on, but there was only seven minutes to go and Lennon came off for Pienaar to take his place.  Spurs kept plugging away and when a move broke up in midfield by Bale, who knocked it to Livermore, who played the Welshman through and he raced away to the left, pulling a square pass across the box, taking out Hart and leaving Defoe the chance to score the winner.  Having just suffered a bout of cramp just before, JD might have  been struggling a little to keep up with Bale, stretching for the cross, he could only manage to divert the ball just the wrong side of the post.  It was a heart-breaking miss as players visibly slump.

With five minutes injury time, a long hoof forward by Clichy bounced outside the box, landed on the edge and as Balotelli  took it down, Ledley King wrapped his legs around the forward's and he went down to convince Webb to point to the spot ... yes, he actually saw that one !!  Balotelli got up and coolly sent the ball past Friedel and it was virtually the last kick as the final whistle went.

It was a feisty performance by Spurs when  0-2 down, but one stretch at one end was punished by a stretch at the other and the game turned on those tow moments.

I fully expect Mancini to slam his players for their foul tactics, such a stickler for the laws that he is and I fully expect Webb to say he did see Balotelli's raking of Parker and then no further action can be taken.  When will the FA stop this buffoon taking charge of our games and when will we ever get a referee who is a homer, as everywhere we travel, it appears the ref takes the home team's side.

Having said that, it showed not only that we are capable of living with City and on another day beating them, but also that they are not as strong a team as they appear to be.  Their defence creaks and the approach of some of their players is nothing more than cynical which will cost them free-kicks, penalties and cautions or sending offs.

Spurs have to keep going and see where the season takes us.  How you respond to defeats and setbacks is the making of a team and although the next game will be the trip to Watford in the FA Cup, the home match against Wigan Athletic in nine days will be a tester for what happens for the next few months.

Burton Bradstock



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What you thought
Jack Waller I agree with your previewer about Milner and I fail to see how he was given the Man of the Match award.  I know it usually goes to a home player and one on the winning side, but what did he do all game ?

City were lucky and you need that if you are going to win the title, while Spurs still seem to be suffering from the Manchester Ref Syndrome, where nothing is seen in our favour when we visit the Rainy City.

Thought we did well today but do lack a killer touch in the final third.  Defoe took his first well and his missed effort was after he had gone down with cramp, but the long legs of Crouch or Ade might have been able to steer it in.  Even Pav might have got on the end of that one !

Thought City were insipid in most of their play, with Friedel not having a lot to do, except from set-pieces.  We might have well been playing Stoke.

If we can go on another good run, I can see City dropping points and we might be able to sneak nearer the top.  Let's give it a go !!

Adam Steppings That was a hard defeat to accept made harder by the Manchester loving Mr. Webb, but soften by the fact that clubs below us Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle only managed one point between them this weekend.

It's still possible to catch City up we need to take great pride in today's performance ... a game we could have won.

Owen Linard I see that the FA have charged Balotelli with violent conduct.

Well whoopee Do !

Good for them but a bit late for us given the effect it would have had on the game if the officials on duty had taken appropriate action at the time.

Should THFC ask the FA for a rematch ( with Ballo suspended, and City having to play the last 20 minutes with ten men) ? 

Justice would be to give us their 3 points.

Wyart Lane Nice idea Owen, but if that was the case we would have had those three points at United when Mendes' goal was not allowed and Mark Clattenberk would be just a stain on the memory as he got hounded out of the game for poor eyesight .

I am surprised that the FA are doing anything knowing how ineffectual they can be.  Perhaps they are just trying to butter Harry up so he takes the England manager's job ?  (Cynical, moi ?)




Other scores during this week :
Bolton Wanderers 3 Liverpool 1 Saturday
Everton 1 Blackburn Rovers 1 Saturday
Fulham 5 Newcastle United 2 Saturday
Norwich City 0 Chelsea 0 Saturday
Queens Park Rangers 3 Wigan Athletic 1 Saturday
Stoke City 1 West Bromwich Albion 2 Saturday
Sunderland 2 Swansea City 0 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Aston Villa 3 Saturday
Arsenal 1 Manchester United 2 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 22 17 3 2 60 18 54 +42
2 Manchester United 22 16 3 3 54 21 51 +33
3 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 22 14 4 4 41 24 46 +17
4 Chelsea 22 12 5 5 40 26 41 +15
5 Arsenal 22 11 3 8 39 33 36 +6
6 Newcastle United 22 10 6 6 32 30 36 +2
7 Liverpool 22 9 8 5 25 21 35 +4
8 Stoke City 22 8 6 8 23 33 30 -10
9 Norwich City 22 7 8 7 32 36 29 -4
10 Sunderland 22 7 6 9 29 24 27 +5
11 Aston Villa 22 6 9 7 26 29 27 -3
12 Fulham 22 6 8 8 28 31 26 -3
13 Swansea City 22 6 8 8 25 29 26 -4
14 Everton 22 7 5 10 22 26 26 -4
15 West Bromwich Albion 22 7 4 11 22 31 25 -9
16 Queens Park Rangers 22 5 5 12 22 37 20 -15
17 Bolton Wanderers 21 6 1 15 28 47 19 -19
18 Wolverhampton Wanderers 22 4 6 11 25 40 18 -15
19 Blackburn Rovers 22 4 6 12 33 45 18 -12
20 Wigan Athletic 22 3 6 13 19 45 15 -26


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


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