City saved by Hart

16Aug10

0-0 against a potential title challenger, if the media are to be believed, is not too bad but considering the way Spurs played then the result is a bit of a let down. The game showed two teams with totally different mindsets, Spurs willing to attack and exploiting the flanks while City played keep ball in the centre looking to exploit the middle with Tevez dropping so far back it was virtually a 4-6-0 for City.

Spurs can take a lot of positives from the game, Huddlestone and Modric were outnumbered in the centre of the pitch 3 v 2 but managed to control the game well and get the ball to the flanks where Spurs were the most dangerous especially on the left with Bale. The City setup had 3 central defensive midfielders for Modric and Huddlestone to compete against so had to stay in front of the City central trio as going through or around would leave the middle exposed. If anything this played into the hands of Spurs as City were not adventurous enough in the first half and the passing abilities of Huddlestone and Modric kept the game at a high tempo with play being switched extremely quickly from one side of the pitch to the other.

Due to the congestion in the centre it is hard to work out if their was an issue with the striking partnership of Crouch and Defoe, any ball through the centre was into a mass of players and Crouch was unable to hold up the ball while Defoe is not great playing with his back to goal. Defoe also had defensive responsibilities, dropping back onto De Jong to put more pressure on the ball when City were in possession.

While Spurs dominated the first half having 10 shots with 8 on target the second half City came back into the game, with Barry playing wider and Yaya Toure given more licence to get forward. Despite this change Spurs were still barely worried, with any aerial threat easily dealt with by King and Dawson and Tevez always 10-15 yards outside the box the attacking threats were minimal as the central two did not go to pick up Tevez and leave space. Tevez was so deep the midfield could drop back and close him down. Assou-Ekotto had a great game at left back defending well against diagonal runs into the box from Shaun Wright Phillips and later Adam Johnson as they made a run for the central area.

Modric was exceptional in the centre, completing 40 of his 46 passes and making 10 interceptions, twice as many as any other player on the pitch.

Modric 40 of 46 passes complete

Modric 10 interceptions

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