City 3 – 2 Spurs – 17th August 2019…
Obviously it happened again. That VAR thing in the last minute of a game against the best team in the country. For the most part as a spectator it’s not great but for my team when it has gone for you, those moments are amazing. In the long run it might work itself out, but City should have had a penalty when Lamela wrestled Rodri to the ground. It’s all just very new, not 100% logical at the minute and not everyone knows 100% what happens and why.
Overall VAR will be spoken about many more times before City win the title again. Without even more of a delay, for the second week running is my Spurs article. Chiefly on the tactics used and the impact on the match. The first one is still available here Spurs 3 – 1 Villa
Notably we started in a 4-2-3-1 to try and match city as well as we could. Vertonghen still not in the first 11. Touted as a drop in his training intensity as the reason he was not being in the team. Now it would be difficult to pick our “Best” defender but it’s very close between our Belgian duo. You would want your “best 11” on the pitch in a match like this. Further forward we find Winks and Ndombele, who were given the deeper roles. Both were disciplined enough to stick to the deeper roles, occasionally choosing to push forward. When I say disciplined, it was probably more City dominating and continuing to move forward at will.
Next up, the strangest attacking trio I have seen for a few years at Spurs. First, we had Lamela playing Number 10, the most natural of this three in their assigned role. If Sissoko honed his technical skills in combination with all his natural attributes. He could excel in the wide right position Poch placed him in. Lastly, we had Eriksen in a defensive wide left position. Of course, Eriksen has played this position before but enjoys the interchanging free role with the likes of Son, Alli etc. Makes his role very different with this position and other teammates.
While this formation was in place to do a job, we left Kane quite isolated up top. Due to this we struggled to gain much of a foothold in the match or offer up much threat in the final third.
Stats for the first half were as follows
City vs Spurs
- Shots 13 – 1
- Passes 308 – 298
- Clearances 5 – 12
- Blocks 7 – 13
- Saves 0 – 3
As you can see, the key stats are in Pep’s favour here. We just could not get going. City were far more dominant, incisive and we were giving them far more space than we should have.
In order to try and get back in the match we switched formations. We moved to a 4-3-2-1 at the start of the second half. With the intention that the change should have allowed us to push higher up the pitch and press closer to their goal.
While Winks was moved to be the deepest lying midfielder, he still found himself overrun time after time. In order for him to best instil himself on the game he needs time to look up and pick a pass. Due to City being City he just did not get the time.
The two of Sissoko and Ndombele, that I have spoken about before should be Powerful and Energetic. But against City this did not matter. The midfield wizards they had were just too smart for our dynamic duo.
Important as their width was in the first half, we re-positioned Lamela on the right. Trying to press Zinchenko back and stem the fullbacks attacking forays. We did the same with Eriksen on the other side, both comfortable coming inside when needed. However, this did not stop City coming forward with wave after wave of possession and probing passes.
The 11 minutes after half time yielded the following stats.
City vs Spurs
- Shots 6 – 1
- Passes 79 – 67
- Clearances 2 – 4
- Blocks 0 – 2
- Saves 0 – 3
As you can see, the City pressure just did not let up. We needed a change and for the second week running Poch changed our formation with a substitute. Surprisingly he had an instant impact on the game.
With attention to my Spurs Pre-Season preview, where I wrote briefly about Poch. I wrote about how he would fluidly change formations during the game but was more reluctant with his substitutions. Important to realise that we do not know if this is a change in Poch as a person and as a manager. Or simply just a symptom of actually having options on our bench and within our squad. Whatever it is, it has worked so far in this very small sample size of two premier league games.
By the time our attacking change is made, a Lamela corner comes in to the box. Just like last week against Villa, Winks was sacrificed with Lucas coming on this time not Eriksen. Immediately a game changing impact as Lucas scores with his head. Absolute scenes.
In view of the pattern of the first 57 minutes, we sought to push City further back. Additionally, we needed to give them something else to think about. We switched to an attacking formation of 4-2-2-2. While Winks was not on the pitch, Ndombele and Sissoko stayed in their previous midfield two. As did Lamela and Eriksen in their now floating wide positions. In order to come inside to try and influence our play and disrupt City’s rhythm more than previously. Furthermore, we now had Kane accompanied by the fresh off the bench Lucas up top. In hope to occupy the City defenders and make them think about defending. Something we had failed to do until now.
Now did this work?
City vs Spurs
- Shots 11 – 1
- Passes 230 – 141
- Clearances 3 – 7
- Blocks 5 – 11
- Saves 0 – 2
Significantly we were more direct, made them come and challenge our players for the ball. While we kept the ball for longer spells and forced them to make mistakes that they had not been making.
Rose/KWP – 5.5m/5m
As a result of City’s dominance on Saturday both Rose and KWP spent more time in their own half. KWP seemed a little more progressive over the 90 minutes. This could have been because he was not up against KDB. Who kept cutting inside and outside. Rose just did not know what to do to try and get the better of him. As a result of Eriksen being the wide left, probably meant Rose could not stray too far forward. Whereas on the right Sissoko has that recovery pace to get back if KWP got caught higher up.
They would both be my first-choice fullbacks for now. KWP has done well, and done anything wrong to warrant giving the shirt back to the returning Aurier. Rose is the Dynamic LB we need until Sessegnon can play there.
Ndombele – 6m
As a result of the press from City, Ndombele found himself near his own box more than he would have liked. He still managed 87% accurate passes and supplied the ball for Lamela’s goal. He completed 4 out of his 4 dribbles. Love to see this in the congested central area. He contested and won all 10 of his ground duels. This was a good showing of both sides of his game. The combatative nature along with the creative.
Again, he had two central midfield partners but showed what he can do and impressed in a very hard game. Two attacking returns in two games is not to be sniffed at. Worth keeping an eye on from a Footballing and FPL point of view.
Eriksen – 8.9m
Not quite the impact he had vs Villa in GW1. Eriksen was below his usual high standards, in his wide left position for most of the game. Not his natural position, in a match where he cannot use his best attributes to influence the game. City forced him back as you can see in the heatmap. Forced to track back and help out rose. He did win both of his tackles and get 76% accurate passes. Unfortunately the passes were not in the areas he could hurt City. Hopefully his head is in the right place and he stays with us. Will be as consistent as previous seasons if he stays in my opinion.
Lamela – 6m
Lamela when on form is technical, probing and has the high intensity needed to keep City on the back front from his position near their box. During Saturday he buzzed about the pitch as he does, more over on the right side. Managed to score a goal where Ederson will get more criticism than Lamela will get credit for it. Lamela hit his shot early into the space where Ederson should have been and it went in. His corner beat the first man and enabled Lucas to equalise.
His all action performance also included, 75% accurate passes, 2 out of 2 dribbles and the Argentine won 2 out of his 2 tackles. Great to see after his injury and personal problems. Two games in and Lamela has shown he could be a good squad option for the long season ahead.
Sissoko – 5m
Next up we have Moussa. 90 minutes of patrolling that right hand side. He had a task to do and stuck to it. Helping out KWP and Lamela on that side who were dealing with Zinchenko and Sterling. “Played” in the midfield two but mostly recognised the danger of threat down that side. Boasting 82% pass accuracy with mainly simple non transitional balls and completing his 2 dribbles. Great squad asset but will not hit the heights of last year due to the quality we have and his technical limitations.
Kane – 11m
Who has a heatmap like this? Your number 1 Striker, that’s who. Poor performance from Kane. Had one shot off target and won none of his aerial duels. Only had 25 touches in the 90 minutes. The game really did pass him by. He dropped deep to try and influence the play and to help out our under-pressure midfield. Hopefully Newcastle provides an easier test in GW3.
Although not a great spectacle from a Spurs perspective, ultimately it finished 2-2. A point at City is a tough point to gain, however you actually do it. VAR again was the talking point. Instead of the breathless performance, especially in the first half, from one KDB. On another day it could have been 5 goals to city before we kicked off for the second half.
City look scary and I would be worried for any team not at full capacity playing them. Sterling looks so direct and his goals are still coming. KDB looks like he did in 17/18, a magical technician who dominates teams. Full backs are flying down each wing and Rodri has added a little something different. He still knows how Pep wants him to play with niggly fouls but his passing is much better than what they have previously had in a defensive midfielder.
One big test passed for Spurs, without losing. Troubled Newcastle are up next and I fully expect goals from our side. KWP still a good option for RB, Ndombele maybe a steal for 6m and Captain Kane here we go again.
Thank you for reading. Feel free to reach out with any feedback or observations. All my pieces are available to read at fplnetwork.com