Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 0 Manchester City
It went better than we could possibly have dreamed. Quick off the blocks and into an early lead; it’s the stuff of dreams to be two-up before half-time and the luxury of a missed penalty.
There was an energy, a verve about the performance which was a delight to see. Every week, the questions which were left unanswered last season, get an answer now. How can we cope without Harry Kane? Quite nicely, if you don’t mind.
Much was made beforehand of Poch’s past with Guardiola, about how the first match was a draw and the next or one soon after, was a win at the Camp Nou; Saturday makes the present far more interesting. Tottenham took Manchester City to task, unwilling to let them settle into the destructive rhythms that they love to play.
It helped that City were eager to press the self-destruct button with Aleksandar Kolarov leading the way. A sliced clearance cannoned into the net via the crossbar. Every little helps and the opening goal meant City had to press forward, leaving more space at the back.
Dele Alli and Son Heung-min were outstanding in pressing and Victor Wanyama did well to stay on the pitch following his yellow card. The Kenyan concentrated on his game, working hard to keep the ball re-circulating when the opportunities present themselves.
Alli scored the second, continuing his run and taking the shot first time, having carved his way through the City midfield. Crucial to the victory was the pressing which the whole team carried out to the letter. And when City worked their way through the defence, Hugo Lloris was there to stop their progress.
It was an interesting decision to start with Son rather than Vincent Janssen. The Dutch international is a more traditional centre forward but as it happened Son’s mobility was the cause of City’s problems, creating space for others to exploit.
The scoreline might have been more emphatic. Lamela and Son squabbled briefly about who would take the penalty kick awarded when Fernandinho curtailed Dele Alli’s run in the area. There were fewer arguments with the decision from the players than between the two Tottenham players moments later.
Son’s intervention was a contributing factor to the spot kick being missed but it was a poor attempt. If Lamela was distracted, he should have passed the ball to someone else. In the end, it didn’t matter; the result was decisive enough and instead of being lauded as invincible, City are mere mortals. A good side but mortal nonetheless.
The international break has come at just the wrong time. Whilst the games when they return from their various national team matches are relatively straightforward but, certainly for West Bromwich Albion, there is precious little time for training in the first week at least.
But that’s a thought for another week or so’s time. Right now, it’s the time to reflect in a bit of mid-season glory and wonder about what might be.