OPPONENTS Manchester City at Wembley 
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Monday 29th October 2018
PREVIEW The money behind the club should not cloud the progress that Manchester City have made in domestic competitions.  Yes, it gives them the depth to field good quality sides in all competitions, but while Spurs struggle in the Champions League, City are also finding it a different ball game, despite the financial advantages they have behind them.

With Pep Guardiola in charge and his players claiming he brings out the best in them, it is hard to see much further than them for the winners of the Premier League this year, bar a massive implosion at their club.  You don't need to be reminded of the squad of players available to them, such is it's quality that many younger players are going through the out door to get some playing time and experience rather than wait to try and oust the big money signings that are coming through the in door.

With a midfield that creates so many chances, it is not surprising that Sergio Aguero is always near the top of the leading scorers, but there are some weaknesses in their side - albeit not many.  But to be able to capitalise on the, you need the right sort of players and I am not sure we have them, unless we catch them on an off night.  Stones is still not the polished defender everyone hoped he would be and Kompany is getting to the fag end of his career, so there may be something to be gained around those two, although this depends on Guardiola's selection, as I imagine he will seek to put out a strong side, with an easier prospect on Thursday of Fulham at home and playing a lesser side in that tie.

The midfield and front line are string and we must stop handing the opposition an early goal start if we want to get anything form a game.  Tight for 15 minutes, then try and establish a foothold in the game with some attacks, but not so that we leave ourselves open at the back.  The midfield will need to track the fluid movement in the City ranks and then be ready to support Kane, if we can get a move going forward.  In form Erik Lamela could be key, as he has shown in the past that City don't enjoy playing against him and Eriksen the same.

It is hard to see how to play against City on any given day.  Wolves got a draw against them, as did Liverpool, both playing different ways.  The only side to beat them so far is Lyon, who played them off the park in the Champions League.  I don't think Pochettino will go all out attack nor all out defence, but he will need to get the pressing game right to hurry City without making it simple for them to play around that style of game.

Guardiola has been concentrating on the state of the Wembley pitch after three NFL games in the last three weeks, so perhaps he is preparing excuses early, as he is a big admirer of Pochettino.  However, Messi didn't have too much trouble ripping up apart when Barcelona visited after the Joshua fight at the national stadium.  Win and we could go above City, but unless this is the game where we really start to play as we can, it is unlikely and a City win, unfortunately, would seem to be the most likely outcome.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    1         Manchester City    3
RESULTS HISTORY Click here for results, match reports and facts on meetings with Manchester City
Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen are still unavailable for selection due to injury, but Dele Alli should be able to return to the squad, but Mauricio Pochettino will have to decide if he starts or is a substitute.
Danilo, Fabian Delph and Kyle Walker could return from injury, but Ilkay Gundogan is still sidelined with a hamstring injury.

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Premier League Kick off 20:00
Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0) Manchester City  1 (1)




Mahrez  05m 31s

Moura (simulation)  45 
Davies (foul on B. Silva)  94


Laporte (foul on Sissoko)  53
Fernandinho (foul on Moura 61)


Crowd :   56,854 Weather :  Chilly
Referee :  Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Stuart Burt; Mr. Matthew Wilkes
Fourth Official :  Andre Marriner  
Spurs kicked off and played towards the East Stand end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 9 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Manchester City : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  2  Kieran TRIPPIER
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
33  Ben DAVIES      

15  Eric DIER  (  8  Harry WINKS  67)
19  Mousa DEMBELE  (20  DELE Alli  75)

17  Moussa SISSOKO
11  Erik LAMELA
7  Lucas MOURA       (23  Christian ERIKSEN  81)

10  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
24  Serge AURIER
  7  Heung-Min SON


  2  Kyle WALKER
14  Aymeric LAPORTE      
22  Bernard MENDY

20  Bernardo SILVA
21  David SILVA  (  4  Vincent KOMPANY  89)
26  Riyad MAHREZ    (33  Gabriel JESUS 90+2)

10  Sergio AGUERO  (17  Kevin de BRUYNE  71)
  7  Raheem STERLING

Unused subs: 
49  Arijanet MURIC
30  Nicolas OTAMENDI
19  Leroy SANE
47  Ben FODEN


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

Recently, match reports have read about how Spurs are not playing that well, but have been achieving results.  Tonight, it was a good performance, but without the points, it may have deserved. 

City scored early on a  dodgy pitch and the memories of Barcelona's recent visit to the Lane sprang to mind, but while the visitors could have won by a more handsome score-line, they failed to take their opportunities, much as Barca did and they also exhibited the ugly side of their game, which involved putting in bad fouls, surrounding the referee and wasting time; another aspect of Barca's performance at Wembley.  Neither side really need to do that, as they are capable of out-footballing opponents, but perhaps they doubt their own ability to do that. oh ... and the common link between these two sides ... Pep Guardiola.  Feted for his contribution to the beautiful game, his application of the dark arts (which continued in his press conference after the game about the Wembley pitch) should not go unacknowledged.

It was out of keeping with the well observed minute's silence for the fallen in World War I and for the Leicester City chairman, who lost his life with four others in Saturday's helicopter crash at the King Power stadium.

Spurs were once more architects of their own downfall, with a soft early goal conceded and some near suicidal football on a pitch roughed up by three NFL games in recent weeks.  It was a long kick out by Ederson that Trippier went up for with Sterling and it glanced off his head, allowing the winger to retrieve it.  He then got past Kieran too easily, allowing him to pick out a ball across the box to Mahrez, who ran in about 10 yards out to side-foot past Lloris, who was left without a chance to save.  Five and a half minutes in and 0-1 behind, it seemed like it would be a question of how many City would score. 

Aguero went down the left side of the box and hit a shot into the side netting, before Harry Kane had Tottenham's first shot on goal with a drive from 25 yards out that swerved all over the place and left Ederson confounded as to where it was going.  Luckily for him it dipped just over the bar.  When City play, their football is quick and incisive, with some one-touch passing, Sterling got through on the left and into the box, but his shot on goal was blocked by Toby Alderweireld, with the ball going out for a corner.  There were jeers for a highly wayward shot by Kyle Walker, who got a mixed reception on his return, with many fans shouting "Judas" whenever he came near.  The former Spurs defender was also the butt of the crowd when he sent a 40 yard pass straight into the crowd.

After about 20 minutes, Spurs were starting to press more effectively and hassle City players on the ball, with Friend giving a lot of soft free-kicks, while Lamela was regularly being wrestled to the ground without winning one.   Moussa Sissoko was continuing his good form and raced away after taking the ball off a City man, but as he looked to pull the ball back from the right, Mendy intercepted.  Ben Davies was playing well too and his well-timed tackle just inside the box won the ball from Sterling, which could not be said as Aguero committed a "tactical" foul (I hate that term) to stop Trippier getting away from him. 

While Hugo received a lot of criticism for getting sent off in midweek, he produced a good stop down at his near post as Mahrez came in form their right.  Spurs were finding it easier to attack through the City midfield now and Lamela looked as if he might be through, but the sheer weight of numbers blocked him off, although his through pass put Kane in on goal just after the half hour.  However, his heavy touch took the ball too far ahead of him and allowed Ederson to race out to block, with both players injured in the incident.

After David Silva had been kept out by Lloris' save, Sanchez did well to out-muscle Sterling, with the England winger not getting a free-kick for once, but as he played the ball out to Sissoko, he passed it back to nobody in particular and it went out for a corner.  We really didn't need to gift City any more opportunities, but the Spurs players ensured David Silva couldn't get a shot on goal as the ball was headed out.  With Dembele being strong in the defensive midfield position, it allowed Trippier to get forward and he got possession, as Mendy tried to be too clever and then fell over, but when he laid it off to Lucas, the Brazilian was fouled.  That was cleared easily and in the next attack, Dier almost picked a ball through the back four to put Kane away.  Ironically, it was the winger who was the first booked in the match when he broke away and was upended, only for the referee to show him the yellow card for diving.

After the early goal, Spurs settled and while City failed to take the chances they made, Spurs could have got back into the game.  It was good to see Steve Perryman as the half-time guest - another Spurs man who has had his health problems over recent years.  In the crowd, the discussion was about whether Spurs would be able to get back into the game in the second half or whether City would turn it up a notch. 

Tottenham almost let in another early goal after a restart when Mousa Dembele was robbed of the ball just outside our box, but Mahrez's cross drifted beyond his team-mates and although Spurs went forward in response, City were given another chance by Dier's foul on Aguero that handed them a free-kick in a dangerous position.  David Silva's free-kick hit the wall twice before the ball was shepherded to safety by Davinson Sanchez.  Kane looked as though he might break free, as he latched onto Lucas' ball through the middle, but an offside flag pulled him back and as Spurs began to force errors from the purple shirted opposition, Laporte was booked for a crude barge on Moussa Sissoko as he turned away from the French international.  Unfortunately, as with most of our dead ball situations tonight, nothing came from it. 

City should have gone 2-0 ahead in the 55th minute, when Bernardo Silva got away from the Spurs defence, played the ball inside for David and he chose to play it further left to Sterling instead of having a shot.  A combination of player son the line managed to keep the ball out, as Sterling replayed his missed chances of last season's game here.  A minute later, the ball came out from a free-kick to Walker, who shanked his shot well wide again to more hoots of derision from the Spurs contingent.  He was again the subject of the Tottenham fans laughing at him when he took the ball off Lucas and raced over half the length of the pitch to the dead ball line, but ran out of grass before he could effect his square pass to Aguero, who was unmarked in the middle.  I'm not quite sure why he didn't go for goal, but pleased that he chose not to.

When Spurs looked as though they were going to break away, City cynically prevented their progress and it feels that a yellow card isn't enough for a foul like that, but that was all the ref could give Fernandinho when he hauled down Lucas, who had done him for pace.  It was slightly against the run of play when Aguero was sent in on goal and he decided to shoot from just inside the box, but didn't put it wide enough of Hugo, who saved diving down to his right, although he had a bit more difficulty a minute later, as he had to fist out Aguero's powerful drive from just outside the area.  Eric Dier made way for Winks and his running with the ball caused City problems in midfield.  Tottenham were getting crosses into the box, but mainly they were finding City heads or Ederson's hands.  

Dele replaced the tiring Dembele and Spurs looked to go hard for an equaliser.  With eleven minutes remaining on the clock, Spurs had there best chance of salvaging a point.  Good closing and tackling won the ball in midfield, Lucas taking the ball on down the left.  Dele moved into the box and pulled it back across the penalty area, where Erik Lamela came in onto it.  Slightly behind him and hitting a rough bit of the pitch, Erik skied his shot a yard over the bar, with the goal invitingly in front of him.  Eriksen came on for Moura in a last push, with the last ten minutes mostly played in the City half, but not near enough the goal to grab a leveller; the game ending with a Spurs corner headed out by City.

A much improved performance by Spurs ended in a narrow defeat, so there is not that much between the sides on today's showing.  The pitch wasn't really an issue, as it was the same for both sides and perhaps it hindered Spurs more with Lamela's opportunity affected by a bad bounce.  The one thing that perhaps this game showed up is that we are too nice.  Ben Davies was booked for a challenge form behind late in the game and he also let Walker know he was there when he tried to shield the ball off and the Welshman bundled him over.  Perhaps we need to exert a bit more of the "physical" side of our game that Guardiola kept banging on about after the match.

It is not just about having a winning mentality, but being aggressive in a channelled manner to bully the opposition and to let them know that you are not afraid to mix it.

The City players' reaction at the end showed how much the win meant and they obviously regard Spurs as dangerous challengers, but despite an improved performance, we created few goal-scoring openings and in the second half failed to make Ederson work, without a save to make.  The next game is a write-off, as two games in three days is a schedule that requires Pochettino to prioritise competitions and when the authorities moan about teams devaluing cup competitions, perhaps they need to look at themselves for their programming of matches so tightly in amongst other tournaments. 

A valiant effort, but one in vain, but there were positives and these must be taken into Saturday's game away at Wolves, where the opposition will be looking ot get back on winning ways.  I must say I didn't expect too much from the game before kick-off, but the way we played, I was a little disappointed that we didn't get something from the match.

James Hutchinson

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


League Table  2018-19
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 10 8 2 0 27 3 26 +24
2 Liverpool 10 8 2 0 20 4 26 +16
3 Chelsea 10 7 3 0 24 7 24 +17
4 Arsenal 10 7 1 2 24 13 22 +11
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 10 7 0 3 16 8 21 +8
6 Bournemouth 10 6 2 2 19 12 20 +7
7 Watford 10 6 1 3 16 12 19 +4
8 Manchester United 10 5 2 3 17 17 17 0
9 Everton 10 4 3 3 16 14 15 +2
10 Wolverhampton Wanderers 10 4 3 3 9 9 15 0
11 Brighton & Hove Albion 10 4 2 5 10 13 14 -2
12 Leicester City 10 4 1 5 16 16 13 0
13 West Ham United London 10 2 2 6 9 15 8 -6
14 Crystal Palace 10 2 2 6 7 13 8 -6
15 Burnley 10 2 2 6 10 21 8 -11
16 Southampton 10 1 4 5 6 14 7 -8
17 Cardiff City 10 1 2 7 9 23 5 -14
18 Fulham 10 1 2 7 11 28 5 -17
19 Newcastle United 10 0 3 7 6 14 3 -8
20 Huddersfield Town 10 0 3 7 4 21 3 -17


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


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