Opinion: Why Tottenham Hotspur are Manchester City’s kryptonite

Harry Kane
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur have seemingly become Manchester City’s kryptonite after doing the double over them this season in yet another Premier League thriller.

Tottenham – who currently sit in eighth in the league – did what some would say is the unthinkable, taking all three points away from the Etihad Stadium in a late and dramatic win.

With Conte securing a significant win, this could be a turning point in this year’s Premier League campaign as Tottenham continue to fight for that all-important fourth spot along with contenders Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham.

However, this begs the question: why Tottenham are Manchester City’s kryptonite?

Spurs’ counter-attacking style

A big reason why Spurs seem to do well against City is due to their elusive, counter-attacking style of play.

In Saturday’s game, Dejan Kulusevski – who made his Premier League debut – fired Spurs ahead in the fourth minute, after City were caught pushed high up the pitch.

It started when Ben Davies picked out Harry Kane, who dropped into the midfield area unmarked, and yet again showcased his brilliant passing ability by picking out Son Heung-Min.

Son made a darting run in behind City’s defensive line and latched onto the ball, driving towards Ederson and City’s goal.

Ederson felt compelled to come out to stop the shot, but Son was supported by Kulusevski and eventually laid it off to the Swede, who coolly slotted the ball home to score his first Premier League goal.

The counter-attacking style is the type that Spurs seem to thrive off, especially when playing against City.

Spurs’ league form versus City is remarkably impressive, winning four out of their last five meetings between the two sides home and away (11v11.com)

Spurs’ tight-knit defence versus City

Although Tottenham are definitely not known for their particularly commanding defence, they seem to become a different beast against Man City.

Saturday showed that Spurs can produce strong defensive performances when it matters most, especially in the most difficult game of the season against last season’s Premier League champions.

When in possession, City are the best team in the world. And against Spurs, City are expected to have the majority of the ball, so it is all about finding that cutting edge.

On a number of occasions against Spurs, City have failed to find weaknesses to exploit, even with all the combined talent and big money purchases they have in all areas of the pitch.

Tottenham’s defensive back three of Cristian Romero, Eric Dier and Ben Davies showcased a strong performance, as they headed a host of crosses away and blocked shots, leaving City manager Pep Guardiola scratching his head in disbelief.

Premier League and Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher was impressed with Romero’s performance tweeting after the game: “Cristian Romero is a player!”

This is not the first time Spurs have managed to defend well against City, as I remember last season former Spurs manager Jose Mourinho presented defender Sergio Reguilon with a large leg of Spanish jamon Iberico ham, after his heroic defensive efforts.

Fast forward to modern times and the defensive line Conte is trying to solidify will be a priority in the coming months if he hopes to maintain a top four challenge.

City’s setup

City’s setup may also be a reason for their downfall against Spurs, as it could be said that their system plays into Tottenham’s hands.

When City have the ball, they seem to pin teams back as they look for that cutting final pass or shot. The opposition are left to fend for their lives, as City skilfully maintain the ball through midfielders Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gündogan and Rodri.

However, if City take their eye off the ball, they leave themselves to be exploited as most of their team is so high up in the opposition’s third of the pitch. This was exactly what happened time and time again on Saturday.

However, after Spurs took the lead, City fired back in the 33rd minute when Gündogan tucked the ball away after Lloris dropped a ball he would expect to catch. This was a sign that no matter how brilliant you can play, City always have that ability to score at any time.

In the second half, Spurs kept themselves in the game, even with City continuing to dominate possession.

Kane eventually started and finished a move which saw Son pick out his strike partner’s late run into the box unmarked, with Harry cushioning the ball into the top right corner as Spurs regained the lead.

This showed that City are their own worst enemy, as they play so high up the pitch, leaving a counterattack as the most obvious way to exploit them.

The link-up play between Kane and Son is a frightening prospect for any defence in the Premier League, and that goal tied the record number of goal combinations from any PL pair with 36, along with Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard (Premier League).

This record will surely be broken this season, as the pair continue to show the world-class ability they undoubtedly both possess.

Despite the Kane and Son show, City felt they had grabbed a point in stoppage time when Mahrez converted from the spot after Romero was punished for an accidental handball.

But the tie was not done there, as Kane – who was targeted heavily in the summer by City – showed why football is the greatest sport on Earth.

In one final attack, Spurs worked the ball out to the right and Kulusevski’s was met by a powerful Kane header in the dying embers to make it 3-2.

This sent the Spurs fans into a thrill of wild discombobulation, which they deserved after seeing their side play so well across the near 100 minutes.

The game provided a memorable performance that would send them back home with a smile on their faces, and perhaps a lot of them with croaky voices.

With Spurs doing the league double over City, the successful counter-attacking football on show both times has created a blueprint on how to beat them.

This late win comes exactly a month after Spurs astonishingly came from behind to beat Leicester 3-2 away at the King Power Stadium in added time.

Spurs may well be turning unfashionably late wins into the norm from now on.

Have something to tell us about this article?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.