Tottenham Hotspur have seemingly become Manchester City’s kryptonite after completing the double this season in another Premier League thriller.
Tottenham – who currently sit eighth in the league – did what some would say was the unthinkable, pulling all three points away from the Etihad Stadium in a late and dramatic win.
With Conte picking up a meaningful win, it could be a turning point in this year’s Premier League campaign as Tottenham continue to fight for that all-important fourth spot alongside contenders Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham.
However, this begs the question: why is Tottenham Manchester City’s kryptonite?
Spurs’ counter-attacking style
A big reason Spurs seem to be doing 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 in the fourth minute, after City were caught pushed high up the pitch.
It started when Ben Davies picked Harry Kane, who fell in the midfield area unmarked, and once again showed his brilliant passing ability by picking Son Heung-Min.
Son made a lightning run behind City’s defensive line and latched onto the ball, heading towards Ederson and City’s goal.
Ederson felt compelled to come out to save the shot, but Son was backed up by Kulusevski and eventually sent it back to the Swede, who coolly slid the ball home to score his first Premier League goal.
The counter-attacking style is the type that Spurs seem to thrive on, particularly when playing against City.
Spurs’ league form against City is remarkably impressive, winning four of their last five home and away meetings between the two sides (11v11.com)
Spurs tight defense against City
Although Tottenham are definitely not known for their particularly imposing 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 toughest 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 should have the majority of the ball, so it’s all about finding that advantage.
On several occasions against Spurs, City failed to find weaknesses to exploit, even with all the combined talent and big buys they have in all areas of the pitch.
All three Tottenham defensive backs, Cristian Romero, Eric Dier and Ben Davies, put on a solid performance, as they led a host of crosses 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 match: “Cristian Romero is a player!”
Football, damn it!
Harry Kane with one of the best performances I’ve seen this season and Cristian Romero is a player! #MCITOT
—Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) February 19, 2022
It’s 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 big leg from the Spaniard . iberian ham ham, after his heroic defensive efforts.
Fast forward to modern times and the defensive line that Conte is trying to solidify will be a priority in the coming months if he hopes to maintain a top-four challenge.
City’s set-up may also be a reason for their downfall against Spurs, as it could be said that their system is playing into Tottenham’s hands.
When City have the ball, they seem to push teams back as they look for that final pass or shot. The opposition must fend for their lives, as City skillfully hold the ball through midfielders Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gündogan and Rodri.
However, if City take their eyes off the ball, they allow themselves to be exploited as most of their team are so high up in the opposition third. This is exactly what happened time and time again on Saturday.
However, after Spurs took the lead, City fought back in the 33rd minute when Gündogan hid the ball after Lloris dropped a ball he expected to catch. It was a sign that no matter how hard you can play, City still have that ability to score anytime.
In the second half, Spurs held on in the game, although City continued to dominate possession.
Kane eventually started and completed a move that saw Son pick his strike partner’s late run into the unmarked box, Harry cushioning the ball into the top right corner as Spurs regained the lead.
It showed that City are their worst enemy, as they play so high up the pitch, leaving a counter-attack as the most obvious way to exploit them.
The link-up game between Kane and Son is a frightening prospect for any defense in the Premier League, and that goal equaled the record number of goal combinations of any PL pair with 36, along with Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard (premier league).
That record will surely be broken this season as the pair continue to show off the world-class ability they no doubt possess.
Despite Kane and Son’s show, City felt they grabbed a point in stoppage time when Mahrez converted from the spot after Romero was penalized for an accidental handball.
But the tie has not been made there, as Kane – who has been heavily targeted this summer by City – has shown why football is the greatest sport on Earth.
In a final attack, Spurs worked the ball to the right and Kulusevski’s was met with a powerful header from Kane in the dying embers to make it 3-2.
It sent Spurs fans into a wild shiver of confusion, which they deserved after watching their team play so well for nearly 100 minutes.
The game provided a memorable performance that would send them home with smiles on their faces, and perhaps many of them with raspy voices.
With Spurs taking the league double against City, the successful counter-attacking football each time created a blueprint for how to beat them.
The late win comes exactly a month after Spurs surprisingly came from behind to beat Leicester 3-2 away at the King Power Stadium in injury time.
Spurs may well turn old-fashioned late wins into the norm from now on.
Do you have something to tell us about this article?