There was a vigour about Tottenham's early play that saw them dominate
the first half of this game, but a second half comeback by Manchester
City saw them take the points 2-1.
With long periods of possession and territorial dominance, Spurs should
really have done more than gone into the break 1-0 ahead. However,
their insistence in overturning possession and not finishing off
opponents meant that in the second half, City took the initiative after
some Spurs subs to take some of the few chances they created.
In comparison, Tottenham's build up play
was much more impressive, but the end product was lacking.
Berbatov had one of those games where he likes to flick the ball on to
nobody in particular and the general standard of crossing was very poor.
When Huddlestone came on for Lennon at the break, it allowed the City
defence to move forward a bit knowing that the lack of blistering pace
would now mean they would not have to leave sufficient space for the
back four to sit off the Tottenham forwards and the withdrawal of Keane
made it even easier, with Dunne having the ability to deal with the more
With Spurs troubling City with their calm
possession game right from the start, it was annoying that there was so
few tests provided for Hart in the home goal. A third minute
chance saw Keane beat Onouha on the right side of the box, tight to the
dead-ball line, then try to bend it in with the outside of his right
foot from an extremely tight angle, while Lennon was in the middle in
perhaps a better position. The Irish striker was almost onto a
long ball through from Dawson, but it just ran through for Hart to
collect before Keane could reach it.
A series of free-kicks were wasted and
Jenas blasted way over the bar when set up after some good passing, but
one dead ball did cause problems when Hart came, but got nowhere near
the ball and it eventually dropped to Malbranque, who didn't control his
shot and it went too high. 25 minutes in, Spurs had an escape when
Dawson fell in the way of Johnson's shot as he cut into the box and
shouts for a handball went up, but Clattenburg waved them away, giving
Spurs a decision for once (don't worry it wasn't to last). As the
ball bounced out but still in the area, Elano drove it back in and
missing Benjani's head by inches, Dawson had got back up to block the
shot on the line with his body once more.
It worked in Tottenham's advantage, as
five minutes later they took the lead. Malbranque lobbed a pass
out to Chimbonda on the left wing, but it looked as though he hadn't put
enough weight on the ball. The full back stretched out a leg and
got to it before Corluka could and this left him a free run down the
left, but as we all know, he doesn't have a left foot. However, as
Dunne came across to face him, Keane made an incisive run beyond the
defender and Chimbonda was able to pass the ball with his right into the
striker's path and Keane ran onto it without breaking stride to fire a
left foot shot past Hart to hit the inside of the net on the far side of
It was a well worked goal and nothing
more than Tottenham deserved at this stage.
City almost hit back straight away, with
Johnson playing the ball beyond Woodgate and Castillo out-paced him, but
could not compose himself with his finish and lashed it wide.
Robinson had to be alert a couple of minutes later when Elano hit a low
shot from the right side of the area and the keeper blocked it at his
near post with a good save. From a corner, Dunne got the last
touch and put his header wide and Lennon had a run at goal and a shot
wide from 20 yards, then just before the break, Johnson almost released
Castillo again, but Chimbonda made a good saving tackle.
Turning around at 1-0 ahead, Tottenham's
approach in this away game was to be interesting. Maybe
Huddlestone's presence rather than Lennon's pace was what Ramos thought
might thwart any City backlash. This might be an eternal dilemma
with Lennon. While his end product is not always great, his sheer
presence makes it difficult for defences to relax and that means they
are less able to push forward.
Within the first ten minutes of the half,
we saw a change with City pushing men up wide and getting chances, which
the defence had to hurriedly block. It was also forcing
unnecessary errors and a corner given away without any need was followed
by another, then City scored. Benjani got away down the Tottenham
right and crossed, but Castillo completely muffed his shot, but it
bounced up in the air, was nodded on by Johnson and Ireland was standing
in the six yard box to get enough of a touch on it to turn it into the
goal. The fact that he was off-side when Elano made his header
by-passed both the referee and the assistant in that half.
So an hour gone and all square.
Acouple of Spurs corners ended with Huddlestone having a shot charged
down and then there were substitutions for both sides. Malbranque,
who was having a bit of a mare and Keane, who was not happy at coming
off, were replaced by O'Hara and Bent. Vassell came on for the
ineffective, but lucky, Castillo.
With a break down the Spurs left flank,
Vassell won a corner and from it, Dawson and Chimbonda failed to win the
ball, leaving Onouha the simple task of nodding the ball powerfully past
Robinson in the 72nd minute. It wasn't as though he had to take a
run at it, as the marking was so bad.
It was almost 3-1 when Dawson blocked a
Vassell cross and it popped up invitingly off Benjani for Johnson, but
he tried to take it on his right foot and the volley went wide.
Spurs broke at the other end and Bent's header dropped in Huddlestone's
stride to shoot, but Hart was behind it. Berbatov woke up to hit a
volley at goal, which had Hart scrabbling across goal for an easy save,
but he managed to fumble it out for a corner. The set-piece was
cleared, but a free-kick for one in a series of fouls on Hutton by
Caicedo was whipped in by Jamie O'Hara. The ball landed among a
group of players and shot in past Hart low at the post, but the linesman
had raised his flag early for an off-side against Berbatov, even though
he was beyond the far post and not interfering.
Two wild efforts rounded off the match,
with O'Hara blazing a cleared corner off for a throw-in on the far side
and Caicedo, not knowing what to do when he didn't have to foul anyone,
got the ball in the box and took a swing at it, missing the goal by
about 15 yards.
It was yet another disappointing away
day. Will this change before the end of the season ? I hope so, as it will not bode well for next season if it doesn't and we still
have to reach the magic 40-point mark. Manchester City were only
marginally better than West Ham, so how we intend to win at Wigan and
Blackburn remains to be seen. Although West Ham managed to beat