"Close to perfect" - How the media reacted to Spurs' impressive victory over Man City

Tottenham pulled off the most impressive performance of their season so far by beating pace-setters Manchester City 2-0 at White Hart Lane.

An Aleksandar Kolarov own goal and a Dele Alli strike put Spurs two up, before Eric Lamela missed a penalty.

The home side continue their unbeaten start to the season, while Pep Guardiola’s City face the task of responding to their first defeat after the International break.

Here’s how the media saw the 2-0 win for Spurs:

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Michael Cox analysed the game for the Guardian, and said that the way Spurs played in the first half won them the game:

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“They started at blistering speed, storming into midfield tackles with tremendous tenacity and closing down higher up the pitch to trouble the Manchester City goalkeeper, Claudio Bravo, when attempting to play out from the back.”

But it was their formation that caused the real interest for Michael:

“Mauricio Pochettino’s shape was unusual – Christian Eriksen was in essence playing as a conventional midfielder, although he sometimes alternated positions with the right sided Moussa Sissoko.”

Michael wrote that panicked play with the ball often left Spurs rushing chances and making the wrong decisions:

“Their decision-making without possession was more impressive than the decision-making with possession.”

Fellow Guardian writer Barney Ronay wrote that Son Heung-Min played a major role in the destruction of City:

“Son Heung-min left the pitch just before full-time at White Hart Lane to a huge, concerted ovation. By that stage Tottenham Hotspur’s stand-in No9 was so utterly spent, so drenched in goodwill from a cooing, gurgling home crowd that, as Andre Marriner shooed him off, Son mistook the referee’s gesture for one of congratulation and tried to shake his hand.”

The South Korean is in the form of his life, and his assist to set up Dele Alli for Tottenham’s second goal was an incredible piece of improvisation.

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Sky Sports’ Thierry Henry also hailed the performance of Pochettino’s men, saying it was what he wanted to see from the start:

“If you ask Man City the right question then they’re going to be in trouble. They are vulnerable. They were the first team to do that in the Premier League this season. Man City didn’t have any answers.

You have to give Tottenham a lot of credit because they were brilliant.”

The result puts Spurs into second place with many people, including the BBC’S Phil McNulty labelling them as title contenders:

“If Liverpool are being touted as potential title winners after their fourth successive Premier League win at Swansea City on Saturday, then it is positively insulting to Tottenham not to elevate them to the same bracket after this pulsating performance.”

Ian Ladyman, writing for the Daily Mail, was more critical of Man City, suggesting this is what can happen when a game plan of refusing to play long-ball goes wrong:

“One day it may work. Indeed, as we saw at Swansea, it has worked at times already. When City get it right under Guardiola maybe everybody else in England will just have to stop trying. But until that day we are likely to have occasional afternoons like this — afternoons when energetic, well-drilled, ambitious and brave opposition like Tottenham turn up and drive a bus right through the middle of Guardiola’s sparkling new canvas.”

Pochettino’s team were sparkling from the last – with players such as Wanyama, Alli and Son putting in the performances of their lives.

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Does this mean therefore, that Pochettino could be the nemesis of Guardiola, and not Mourinho as everybody thought? Darren Lewis, writing for the Daily Mirror, certainly thinks so:

“The Spurs boss isn’t as abrasive, as combustible or as controversial as the Special One. But he is turning out to be a real thorn in the side of Manchester City’s Chosen One.

Pochettino gained his first victory in management when his Espanyol side beat Guardiola’s Barcelona in 2009. Espanyol have not beaten Barcelona since. Here Guardiola’s City team were humbled as Spurs’ pressing and their cutting edge in front of goal proved the difference.”

A performance that perhaps we saw coming after Celtic pushed City all the way, but nevertheless this Spurs side proved that they are ready to compete for the highest honours this season. Ian Ladyman at the Daily Mail, summed it up nicely:

“Here, though, Tottenham contributed the complete performance that Celtic could not. They were as robust across the back as they were rapier sharp up front and the result was a victory as close to perfect as Mauricio Pochettino has found.”

Just like that, the title race has exploded into life.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Stephen Willerton

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