OPPONENTS Manchester City
COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Wednesday 29th January 2014
VENUE White Hart Lane






Manchester City's goal-scoring road show rolls up at White Hart Lane and while a few weeks ago, we might have been envious of their prolific net-hitting, under Tim Sherwood, Tottenham have become more free-scoring too, so what lies in wait.  A drab 0-0 draw ???

I'd take that !!

Negredo, Aguero, Dzeko, Jovetic.  And that's only their forwards !!  Goals from midfield through Yaya Toure, Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri and David Silva, there is danger from all over their team.  Don't even think about their height from set-pieces.

Manuel Pellegrini has proved those who had not heard of him before he tipped up at the Ethiad wrong, by taking a side that stuttered last season, into a well-oiled machine and one that doesn't seem to want to stop.  Their performance against us at their place was very good, but we were not fully functioning and hopefully, this Wednesday, Spurs will be more solid in their shape, more concentrated on not making mistakes and will be able to get forward to test the City defence, which has looked shaky, especially away from home.

With Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy given an easy time in the previous meeting, I hope that the confidence Christian Eriksen and Aaron Lennon have picked up in the last few weeks will trouble City enough to keep them from attacking the whole game.  With Adebayor being pitted against his old club, who still pay some of his wages (an odd situation and not one without questions that should be asked by someone), he will be keen to show that he can still perform to the high standards he has been of late.  His two goals against Swansea were very different and were both well executed.  You feel that if we can get the service to him he will put the ball in the net.

But to do that, we need to work hard off the ball to leave City with little space to play.  They proved earlier in the season that if you sit off them they will punish you.  The way Tottenham hunted down the Swansea players on the ball showed that they can produce an energetic performance to force mistakes.  Having done that, we were then quick enough to break forward and should have had more than the three goals that we got at the Liberty Stadium.

With some players maybe fit to return - Sandro, Vertonghen, Holtby and Lamela - Sherwood might have some decisions to make about the team to take to the field.  A nice position to be in when you are facing a lot of people's tip for the title.

A draw might be the best we can hope for.  Not true, I suppose.  A 6-0 home win is probably the best we could hope for, but realistically, City are a wealthy club, who have spent their money very well and have picked a manager to get the best from those players.  They are a team I have looked forward to seeing, even though I might not like the end result.  And remember they beat us 1-5 at home a couple of seasons back ... before they were playing like they are now !!

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    1         Manchester City    3
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Tottenham Hotspur  1 (0)                                                              Manchester City  5 (1)
Premier League
Wednesday 29th January 2014                                                                                              Kick off 19:45
White Hart Lane
Capoue 59 Aguero 15
Toure (p) 51
Dzeko 53
Jovetic 78
Kompany 89
Naughton (foul on Navas)  64


Rose (foul on Dzeko) 50  

Toure (foul on Dembele)  33
Aguero (dissent)  40
Demichelis (foul on Adebayor)  40
Zabaleta (foul on Adebayor) 76


Crowd :   36,071 Weather :  Wet throughout
Referee :  Andre Marriner (West Midlands) Assistant Referees :  Mr. S. Ledger, Mr. S. Perry
Fourth Official :  Jon Moss -
THFC kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 4 mins.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Manchester City : kit
25  Hugo LLORIS

  2  Kyle WALKER
20  Michael DAWSON (c)
  3  Danny ROSE     

16  Mousa DEMBELE  (15  Etienne CAPOUE 46  )
42  Nabil BENTALEB

  7  Aaron LENNON
23  Christian ERIKSEN  (14  Lewis HOLTBY 83)
22  Gylfi SIGURDSSON  (16  Kyle NAUGHTON     )

10  Emmanuel ADEBAYOR

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL

18  Jermain DEFOE
21  Nacer CHADLI
  9  Roberto SOLDADO

   1  Joe HART

  5  Pablo ZABALETA     
26  Marco DIMECHELIS     
  4  Vincent KOMPANY 
22  Gael CLICHY

15  Jesus NAVAS
42  Yaya TOURE         (33  Mario NASTASIC 64)
21  David SILVA  (33  Alexsandr KOLAROV 80)

10  Edin DZEKO 
Sergio AGUERO         (35  Stefan JOVETIC 46  )

Unused subs: 
  6  Joleon LESCOTT
17  Jack RODWELL
  9  Alvaro NEGREDO

Manager :  Tim Sherwood Manager :  Manuel Pellegrini
Sponsor :   Hewlett Packard Shirt sponsor :  Etihad Airways
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

In itself, a loss to Manchester City was not too much of a shock.  The performance of the referee and linesman (I absolve Mr. Perry from this farago that the other two officials purported in the name of competency) was all the more of a shock.  Sitting about 70m away from Danny Rose's tackle on Edin Dzeko, you could tell from the path the ball took after he made the challenge that he got something on it.  Both men in black were much closer and the closest - the referee - was giving a corner, until the linesman crossed his chest with his flag and got his decision wrong, which led to Rose being sent off and Spurs being condemned to forty minutes running around after light blue shirts even more than they had in the preceding 50 minutes.  To say that to keep it to five was a real result.

Not that many Spurs fans felt that way, as they harangued the team for not showing pride.  Well, the visitors could easily have been four up by half time and that was against eleven men.  With a defender off and tiring legs, it is not surprising that Manchester City got two late goals, but there was a lot to be said for our opening fifteen minutes.  At least we held out for fifteen minutes this time, rather than the 15 seconds at the Etihad.  But sometimes, it was more by luck than judgement, as Sergio Aguero drifted onto Fernandinho's pass to smack the ball across Lloris from the right and smack it against the post and out, with just four minutes gone. 

In reality, City wasted so many chances when they were attacking Spurs in the first half, with apparent ease.  Dzeko went around Kyle Walker and fired over from a tight angle, when a ball across the box would have given Aguero a very presentable opportunity.  Walker had a torrid time on our right, with little protection offered to him by Aaron Lennon, who was also finding it difficult to get in the game, but Walker stuck at his task and firmed things up on that flank as the half went on.  The City players quick passing in small triangles opened up space in behind the Spurs defence and their movement was hard for the Tottenham players to track.

In the 15th minute, just such a run from Aguero produced the opening goal. Having knocked the ball around, Fernandinho threaded a pass between Rose and Dawson on the edge of our box, leaving Aguero's well timed run to take him into the right side of the box and as Lloris came out, he screwed the ball to the keeper's right with just enough pace to stop Vlad Chiriches being able to stop it before it slowly went low into the net.  We felt that it was the start of things to come.

Tottenham nearly got on the score-sheet by accident, when Emmanuel Adebayor's shot was blocked for a corner by Vincent Kompany, with the resulting ball swung in by Christian Eriksen, which missed everyone at the near post and hit Adebayor.  Unfortunately, Spurs enjoyed none of the luck that was to fall City's way later in the game and the ball slowly bobbled straight to Joe Hart.  Hugo Lloris had to be a bit sharper a couple of minutes later, when Clichy got clear on their left wing and his cross went into the six yard box and was met by Aguero's head.  The French keeper was quickly down to it to parry the ball low to his left and the ball was then hacked clear.  City then had a Dimechelis header knocked off the line by Danny Rose when he rose to direct Silva's corner at goal, then when the ball came back in, Aguero turned quickly, with his low centre of gravity and his shot whistled a foot over the bar.

Tottenham were really up against it, but in the 26th minute, the game changed and City started to lose their composure, allowing Spurs to get back into the game without really playing that well.  It seemed to stem from a fine tackle by Rose (which wasn't to be the last one in the match) on Zabaleta, with the Argentinian diving, hoping to get a free-kick.  When he didn't, he railed at the lineman and referee and then, when Silva fouled  Bentaleb, Zabaleta was in the referee's face, with Marriner doing nothing about the intimidation that I thought was supposed to be outlawed in the game.  Despite City then moving forward after the free-kick came to nothing, having a couple of blocked shots and a couple of corners, when Spurs broke away, Yaya Toure chopped Mousa Dembele down in midfield, taking him high on the shin and causing him to be replaced at half-time.  Toure got a yellow card, but Dembele was a passenger for most of the remainder of the half.

Spurs pushed forward, as City got ragged and a free-kick on the left was played in fiercely by Eriksen and Michael Dawson ran in at the far post to fire in off the underside of the bar to put Spurs level.  Or they would have done if the linesman Ledger made his first big mistake by waving his flag to disallow the goal for offside.  While these decisions are hard to make for linemen, the TV footage clearly showed he was on and Spurs were robbed of an equaliser.  I am not saying that this would have meant that Tottenham would have gone on to win the game, but coming at a time when City were failing to control the game, it could have had an effect on their mental attitude.

As it turned out, in the last ten minutes, there were only really two moments of football to note.  Dembele shot wide, with the ball skipping off the wet turf, while Dimechelis headed over when free at a corner.  The Italian also picked up a yellow card for a foul on Adebayor, while Aguero got the same for mouthing off at the ref.  He seemed to want to be involved in everything, including trying to get Dawson sent off when he lay on the ground for ages after losing a header, which the Spurs captain had won without having to jump.  The Argentine forward claimed he had been elbowed in the head, which the referee wasn't having and the striker had to go off just before half time, after he lay on the floor for quite a while again.  Perhaps he had to go off as he was suffering with arthritis, spending so much time on the wet grass, but apparently, it was for a pulled hamstring.

At the break, Paul Miller and the bluff Tony Galvin relived the 1981 FA Cup final, revealing Ossie Ardiles didn't play well because he couldn't have his usual cigarette at the back of the coach going to the first game, as the BBC TV cameras were on board !!   They both expressed the hope that Spurs would be back in the game in the second half.  It proved to be a vain hope, as within five minutes, the game had been handed to City on a plate. 

Once more, I am not dreaming that Spurs would have gone on to win, but any chance of the match being a contest was ended by Ledger, awarding a penalty against Rose in the 50th minute, which  had to result in a red card, as Dzeko was about to shoot at goal from eight yards out.  As it was, Toure converted the spot-kick, Dzeko got a third a couple of minutes later, firing home after Silva hit the post and the ball dropped straight to the Bosnian striker and Spurs were up against it.

Etienne Capoue had replaced Dembele at the break, with the French midfielder having been out of favour, but he did well in breaking up City attacks and trying to get forward.  It was a surprise when Lennon won a corner on the Spurs right wing and from it, Eriksen's ball caused confusion in the six yard box.  Initially, Capoue and Dawson went for the ball, but ended up with their backs to it, Etienne reacting quickest to see the ball loose and smack it into the goal from close range to pull a goal back in the 59th minute.  That was despite Fernandinho's attempt to keep the ball out with a handball on the line.  Maybe, if the goal had not been awarded and the City midfielder sent off it might have made it more of an even contest ?

But Spurs kept trying to play the ball forward, although Pellegrini brought on Nastasic at centre-half for Toure, pushing Dimichelis into midfield.  That stemmed the tide and City played a lot of possession football without really going anywhere.  Dzeko had a couple of chances, but he was trying to break the net and instead nearly broke the advertising hoardings on the upper tier of the Park Lane.  When he did get one on target, it was straight at Lloris, but the fourth goal wasn't too far off and when Walker let substitute Jovetic cut inside, he hit a shot that came through some legs and skipped over Lloris' left arm.

There was still ten minutes left and Walker's tired defending was typical of the rest of the team, who were wilting after playing short-handed for the majority of the second half.  The fifth goal was unlucky for Spurs, but again, a result of tired minds not reacting quickly enough in our own box when Dzeko hooked a shot at goal from a corner blocked and the ball popped up to be turned in by Kompany from five yards out.

What was always going to be hard became almost impossible and so, like the Liverpool home match, a sending off skewed the final result in terms of the winning margin if not the end result.  How we can judge Sherwood's progress with the team is hard to say.  It is against the top teams that you have to measure yourself and the win over Manchester United, good team that they are, is now not looking so great when many others go there and come away with three points.  We only have Everton Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool to play of the top six, so we must try and get results from these games to try and establish a name for ourselves.

It is hard to say who played well and who didn't in the circumstances.  Chiriches battled away, Capoue did OK and might have been usefully employed as a defensive midfielder from the start, as neither Dembele nor Bentaleb fulfilled that role tonight.  Adebayor was isolated and once found himself surrounded by five light blue shirts.  They were determined not to let his hot goal-scoring streak continue.

Another big home defeat which has battered our goal difference, but one the side will need to write off very quickly before travelling to Hull on Saturday.

Tony de Wit


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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Aston Villa 4 West Bromwich Albion 3 Wednesday
Chelsea 0 West Ham United 0 Wednesday
Crystal Palace 1 Hull City 0 Tuesday
Liverpool 4 Everton 0 Tuesday
Manchester United 2 Cardiff City 0 Tuesday
Newcastle United 0 Norwich City 0 Tuesday
Southampton 2 Arsenal 2 Tuesday
Sunderland 1 Stoke City 0 Wednesday
Swansea City 2 Fulham 0 -Tuesday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 23 17 2 4 68 26 53 +42
2 Arsenal 23 16 4 3 45 21 52 +24
3 Chelsea 23 15 5 3 43 20 50 +23
4 Liverpool 23 14 4 5 57 28 46 +29
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 23 13 4 6 30 31 43 -1
6 Everton 23 11 9 3 35 24 42 +11
7 Manchester United 23 12 4 7 38 27 40 +11
8 Newcastle United 23 11 4 8 32 28 37 +4
9 Southampton 23 8 8 7 31 26 32 +3
10 Aston Villa 23 7 6 10 26 32 27 -6
11 Swansea City 23 6 6 11 29 33 24 -4
12 Norwich City 23 6 6 11 18 35 24 -17
13 Hull City 23 6 5 12 22 29 23 -5
14 Crystal Palace 23 7 2 14 15 33 23 -16
15 West Bromwich Albion 23 4 10 9 27 33 22 -6
16 Stoke City 23 5 6 12 21 34 22 -13
17 Sunderland 23 5 6 12 22 36 21 -14
18 West Ham United 23 4 7 12 22 33 19 -11
19 Fulham 23 6 1 16 22 50 19 -28
20 Cardiff City 23 4 6 13 17 40 18 -23


Position before match :  5th
Position after match :    5th

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