Tottenham Club Focus – Spurs can take positives from close loss

Manchester City claimed the three points in this top of the table clash. A dent to the Lilywhites title aspirations and a boost to City’s? With 16 games still to go, this result itself may turn out to mean little. When City beat Tottenham in August, there may not have been many then, who would have expected the return fixture to be a first versus third clash. The August defeat led to manager Harry Redknapp, bringing in some astute signings and embarking on a run of form that saw only one loss between the two City fixtures. Spurs fans may hope this loss acts as a similar catalyst.

Tottenham made two changes to the Wolves match. Ledley King came in for Michael Dawson and Jermain Defoe for the ineligible Emmanuel Adebayor. In the first half both sides showed considerable respect in a cagey stalemate. Manchester City may have just shaded the half, but Tottenham appeared relatively comfortable, keeping the ball well in nullifying their opponents but without creating much themselves. Defoe looked to be playing a similar role to Adebayor, but being a different kind of striker, the tactic did not appear to work. Nor did Gareth Bale’s free role, designed as a tactical change if the Welshman was unable to get space on the wing. This appears to have become Plan A. The problem may be that this denies Spurs width, Benoit Assou-Ekotto a natural outlet going forward and lack of cover when defending. This may also work better if Bale can burst through midfield at pace, not necessarily in a slow, possession based cautious approach as in the first 45 here.

In the second half the tempo increased and the game became more open. In the 56th minute an incisive pass from David Silva created space for Samir Nasri to rifle home. Three minutes later poor marking from a corner allowed Edin Dzeko to flick on for Joleon Lescott to bundle the ball into the net. Lesser teams may have crumbled, instead Spurs hit back immediately. A clearance misjudged by Stefan Savic allowed Defoe through, who calmly rounded Hart to score. Five minutes later Spurs were level. Aaron Lennon teased the City defence on the left before slipping the ball inside for Bale to score with a first time shot over Joe Hart. From then Spurs appeared to take the game to a nervous looking City. In the 91st minute, another error from Savic led to a pass to Bale who bursting down the wing, placed a measured pass into the centre. Defoe running in was agonizingly short of guiding the ball into the net. Almost immediately, City went to the other end where King, who had arguably been majestic until then brought down Mario Balotelli in the area, the Italian scoring the resulting penalty to win the match.

Spurs may feel City could have had two sent off that may have changed the game; Lescott for an elbow on Kaboul and Balotelli for a stamp on Scott Parker. However, Spurs should take positives. For much of the game they were untroubled by City, showed character to level from two goals down and could have gone on to win the game when putting the Blues defence under periods of pressure. Spurs may have lost but showed they may belong in the top three.

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