• Karel L.

Disastrous afternoon at the Etihad for Manchester City

An unrecognizable Manchester City was unable to beat Tottenham in a very difficult match and lost 3 very important points ahead of the end of the season.

The analysis

After the incredible midweek win against Sporting, one would expect Pep to opt for a more alternative lineup, but the reality was completely different.

The only surprise, to say the least, was the fact that Bernardo appeared on the left flank, because, although it is not an unfamiliar position for the Portuguese, the truth is that he has not been seen very well when playing on that side.

Tottenham, for their part, made it clear from the start that they were going to look for a more fast-paced game, as upfront they had Kane, Son, and Klusevski, not to mention their two full-backs, who seemed to have the indication to go up and help whenever possible.

Now, going into the analysis of the match, I have to say that the early goal of the rival team was the result of a slight lack of concentration in the defensive zone, because in three touches they managed not only to attract the attention of our two central defenders but also to leave Son completely alone, who at speed is almost unstoppable.

And these are the real risks of the style with which we have played lately because we are used to form a kind of triangle on the pitch where the only ones left behind are the center backs while the full-backs move forward to play at the level of the midfielders and thus accumulate more men up front, but of course, against opponents who want to play on the counterattack you know, you can always be in danger especially if Walker or Cancelo are very advanced.

Despite that, City didn't get discouraged and that's something that I think we have to recognize to the team, years ago when we were down on the scoreboard it was synonymous that we couldn't come back, today we didn't make it either, but we tried our best and that's very important.

Another thing I want to highlight is how Guardiola understood the game in such a way that, a few minutes after conceding the goal, he changed his tactics and moved Gundogan back a little so that he could help Rodri in the recovery and nullify Klusevsky, something that actually worked.

In addition, in defense, he also changed so that Walker was more responsible for covering Son's possible runs, which gave us much more security in that area.

Since we are talking about good things, I must also say that, as I have already mentioned on several occasions, City is starting to work more on certain types of plays and that is noticeable, every corner kick and every free kick shows more preparation, it is no longer just sending the ball into the box looking for someone to miraculously finish it off.

Now, to be honest, I didn't think we were playing a bad game, but I insist, being so offensive and playing with this system has its risks, especially against opponents with talented players.

However, I must also mention the negative points, and it's been a long time since I've seen so many missed passes in the end zone as today, in fact, in the last minutes of the game we seemed more desperate than attacking with an idea, sending crosses into the box that was full of defenders.

Having said that, I would like to clarify that I don't think that the fact that we didn't score was our fault, I mean, how do you compete against a team that plays with literally 10 players in their box and only sends long balls?

I understand that this kind of games can generate a lot of frustration in everyone, but the reality is that it was not the worst game of this season, sometimes things don't work out and this was one of those days where luck was not on our side.

Besides this, I understand that it can be even more annoying because of the way the rival played, but let's understand that everyone does what they can with what they have, and they only have enough to do that.

Key moments

The match was marked by 3 important moments.

- 31' Gundogan's goal: This was a key moment because it helped us to manage our emotions better, scoring the equalizer before half-time helped us to clear our minds and thanks to this City almost scored more goals, it also gave us peace of mind in the defensive zone, as there was no longer so much pressure and gave us the opportunity to advance the lines.

- 90 + 1' Mahrez's goal: This was fundamental because for a moment it made us dream that an equalizer was possible, besides, the Algerian's shot deserves to be highlighted.

90 + 4' Kane's goal: This was the key moment of the match, because due to multiple lapses of concentration only 3 minutes after scoring and very close to the end, they won us a match that, to tell the truth, was more complicated than it should have been.

Players of the Match

Now, in defeats, it may seem very difficult to name players of the match, but I'm pretty clear on who my favorites were today.

First I have to start with Gundogan, as the German seems to have a special gift when it comes to playing against Tottenham.

Add to this, the guy is incredibly intelligent, he supports in the recovery, he supports in attack and to top it off he also scores goals, no doubt he has become a world-class player.

In second place is Kevin, who managed the tempo of the game very well, plus he was also a key player in recovery and defense.

It wasn't a great day in attack today, but that doesn't mean De Bruyne didn't have a great game.

Finally, there is Cancelo, and yes, I know he was average in the defensive area, but to tell the truth, he was the best defender.

In addition to this, he also did a lot of attacking and deserved a goal, but as we all know, this sport is almost never about deserving.

As an extra point, I would like to add the contributions of Sterling and Mahrez, both are dynamic, fast, and very talented players, today only one of them managed to score, but Raheem collaborated and tried his best and that is why he also deserves recognition.

Post-match reactions

· Pep spoke about Harry Kane “Never was an option [for us]. Forget, it’s the past... He showed his quality. All UK knows it.” [via @Dan_KP]

· He also emphasized how important each game will be

“I am not superstitious. I said a few weeks ago we need to win many games. Every game will be a big, big battle. We knew it and it will be good to understand how difficult it is. Since October we didn’t lose one game in the Premier League.” [via @ManCity]

· Finally, he said that the team did not play a bad game. “We knew after three defeats they would be back. The was practically no space. After that they could keep the ball and with Kane it gave time to Son who could run. In general we were there all the time. We were there but we couldn't win.” [via @ManCity]

Who's next?

Manchester City will face Everton on Saturday, February 26.