Manchester City succumbed to their first loss of the season after falling to an exceptional Tottenham outfit 2-0 at White Hart Lane.
The hosts started the better of the two teams, putting the Sky Blue players under constant pressure early on. Their tactics paid off when Danny Rose whipped in a delightful cross from the left-wing that evaded everyone in the box except Aleksandar Kolarov, who was unfortunate to turn in into his own net. Mauricio Pochettino’s men doubled their lead 10 minutes before half-time when Dele Alli wrapped-up a quick counter-attack with a cool finish.
Despite an improved response after the break, the Citizens could not find a way past Hugo Lloris and dropped points for the first time under Pep Guardiola.
City’s weak defending finally made to pay
Manchester City conceded more than a single goal for the first time in the league this season, although they have now conceded two or more in each of their last two games over all competitions.
The defence struggled under any real pressure that Tottenham applied, leaving Guardiola to ponder any changes that need to be made at the back over the international break. Kolarov had a shocker for more reasons other than the fact that he registered an own goal, while Pablo Zabaleta also failed to maintain the pace of the game and was run ragged by Erik Lamela on the right-hand side.
Pochettino spot on with game plan
Mauricio Pochettino won the tactical battle against Pep Guardiola after his team’s convincing win. City were punished by Celtic in midweek after a slow start and suffered similar consequences against Tottenham. The hosts came out guns blazing and closed every opposition player down – including Claudio Bravo – with intent and vigour. The North London club were also rock solid at the back, denying the likes of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and David Silva any sight of goal and have now registered more clean sheets than any other teams in the league this season (4).
The Sky Blues could not cope with the pressure and conceded both goals as a result. Despite that, Guardiola’s team continued to play out from the back and endured a few more nervy moments as well. While the possession football strategy might work against weaker teams, Guardiola will have learned that he will occasionally have to alter his approach to cope against energetic and pressing sides like Tottenham.
Top of the table effect
Following wins in each of their opening six games City were finally beaten, with Spurs being the first to claim their scalp. Tottenham moved within only a point off league leaders City and to make matters more interesting at the top of the table. Pochettino’s team have now won four on the trot – as has Liverpool, who are a point behind Tottenham in third.
Manchester City started last season in similar fashion, winning their opening five games in-a-row but stumbling afterward. Tottenham’s win will also be beneficial to teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, Everton and Arsenal, as they look to climb the table themselves.