Manchester City crashed to their second defeat in as many games in the league with Spurs beating them 4-1 at White Hart Lane last night. The win means Spurs are now unbeaten in six games and have won three in a row in the league after a stuttering start that saw them win none of their first four games. We look at three things we learned from the game that propelled Spurs within three points of Manchester City.
1 – David Silva is the key for City
Manchester City have a great group of players and is the most expensively assembled team in the history of the Premier League. It is hence, astonishing how the side looks a level below when David Silva is not playing.
The Spanish maestro had been City’s best player last season, despite the side struggling in general. He was also central to everything City did in their opening 5 games. He went off injured in the warm-up against West Ham and the Citizens have lost both game since.
Silva had been playing more of a central role this season with City signing Sterling for the left-flank and also Kevin de Bruyne who can play out wide. The Spaniard has been linking up well with Aguero, whose movement compliments the ability of Silva to see and make incredible passes that split the defence.
In his absence, that level of passing that penetrates the opposition defence is missing. City look that bit less threatening, with none of Yaya Toure, Raheem Sterling, Jesus Navas, Kevin de Bruyne having the same level of creativity.
If City are to do well this season, Silva will have a major role to play in it.
2 – Patience pays off for Spurs
Spurs had finished 5th last season. And given the quality at their disposal, it was an acceptable position. However, the White Hart Lane side has the aspiration to get in the top 4 of the Premier League. Which is why, when they had won none of their opening 4 Premier League games, alarm bells were ringing.
However, manager Mauricio Pochettino was never put under the kind of pressure that his Anfield counterpart Brendan Rodgers is under over the last season and now, allowing the Argentine to not worry about one more problem when he was focussing on getting his newly acquired players in sync with his tactics and philosophies.
Spurs have now gone six games unbeaten, and have won their last three games. They are now four adrift of Manchester United on top of the table and three behind City and from a poor start, it is now a very good start.
Things change mighty quickly in football.
3 – City’s set piece defending needs to improve
City had gone five games without conceding a goal, before Kompany got injured against West Ham and they shipped two. The floodgates now seemed to have opened up with the Citizens conceding four last night, two of which came from poor defending at set-piece.
And although two of Spurs goals should have never stood if the linesman had spotted players in offside position, the other two scored by Kane and Alderweireld from set pieces that propelled Spurs in a 3-1 lead could have been avoided with better and more decisive defending.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini was not too pleased with the defending in those two instances and had come out in the aftermath of the game and made his thoughts clear.
If City are to do well in the league, they have to defend better at set pieces, as most of the bottom 10 sides will look to exploit this weakness of theirs. And if they have to become champions again, it is these games they cannot afford to lose even more than against the top sides.