Top of the table and a victory over the man who has beaten him more than any other manager, Jose Mourinho could not have wished to toast his Tottenham Hotspur anniversary with any greater sense of satisfaction.
Spurs were 14th when Mourinho walked through the door last November, but, in 12 months, he has got them dreaming of winning a first League title since 1961 and ending a trophy drought that stretches back over 12 years.
Rarely over the past decade has ‘Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur’ rung around the stadium with any sort of conviction and yet, with this statement success thanks to goals from Heung-min Son and Giovani Lo Celso, Mourinho might just be bringing some meaning back to the old Spurs song.
These may still be early days in this season’s title race, but Tottenham have to be rated as genuine contenders which is more than might be said for Manchester City, who are already eight points behind Mourinho’s men.
“I prefer to be top than second, third or fourth,” said Mourinho. “But it’s not an obsession for me. I just want to win the next game, I don’t care about the table or the opponent.
“The 14th position for Tottenham when I arrived was fake because they had so many problems and everything was going wrong, but I am happy with the evolution. Of course, this position can also be fake as if we lose two games we become mid-table.”
Pep Guardiola signed a two-year contract extension ahead of this game and the Spaniard has his work cut out to somehow get City back into the title picture, with his first priority to rediscover his team’s goalscoring touch.
“Tottenham are top of the league, so they have to be more contenders than anyone else,” said Guardiola. “We are eight points down with one game behind, so we have to start winning games. If not, it will not be possible for us. We know it. We are struggling to score goals right now. Ten goals in eight games is not good enough.”
The statistics will make this victory look like some sort of smash and grab, but it was so much more than that as Mourinho got his gameplan spot on, although he admitted the stunning 35-second impact of substitute Lo Celso was “lucky”.
He has lost 10 times to teams managed by Guardiola, more than against any other manager, but the scales appear to be tipping back in Mourinho’s favour given this was a second successive victory for him against the Spaniard, following Tottenham’s 2-0 home win in February.
It had been classic Mourinho in the build up to the game, centering his attention on Raheem Sterling’s England withdrawal and claiming that everybody knew the forward would face Spurs.
But by the time Sterling did indeed make an appearance as a substitute, the game was effectively over and Tottenham’s players had more than proved that they could cope with the demands of playing for their countries and returning to top form with their club.
Despite having been away with South Korea, Son quickly showed he was as sharp as ever by giving Mourinho’s team the lead in just the fifth minute.
Tanguy Ndombele caught out City’s centre-backs with a ball over the top of the defence that Son latched on to and dispatched through the legs of goalkeeper Ederson.
It was terrible defending by City’s £121million central pair, with Aymeric Laporte missing Son’s run in behind him and Ruben Dias failing to cover.
Two of Tottenham’s England internationals, Harry Kane and Eric Dier, both started for the home team, along with Steven Bergwijn, who pulled out of international duty with Holland.
Kane thought he had doubled his side’s lead in the 13th minute, but was correctly ruled offside. Son should really have shot after being picked out by Bergwijn, rather than squaring to the Spurs striker.
Gabriel Jesus started as City’s lone striker and he had almost wriggled his way through in the ninth minute, but Toby Alderweireld, who was superb before being forced off near the end, made a vital block.
Mourinho described Alderweireld’s injury as being “bad” and his absence will be a blow with Premier League games against Chelsea and Arsenal to come.
City had the ball in the net in the 27th minute, when Jesus laid the ball back for Laporte, who stroked a shot past Hugo Lloris. But replays showed the ball had hit the arm of Jesus before he set up his team-mate and, following a VAR check and consulting his monitor, referee Mike Dean ruled the effort out.
Some of the City staff behind the visiting dug-out could be heard shouting ‘it’s the Mike Dean show’ and the incident was accidentally replayed on the big screens which resulted in complaints from the visiting players, who were still angry when the whistle went for half-time.
Mourinho was out early for the second half and his sides had lost only two of the previous 146 Premier League games they had been winning at half-time. That figure now stands at 147.
Kevin De Bruyne went close to an equaliser six minutes after the restart, after Serge Aurier had gifted possession back to City, but the Belgian’s low shot curled just the wrong side of the post.
Tottenham were defending with as many as 10 players in and around their own area when City attacked, as they continued to successfully smother De Bruyne and Co.
Mourinho will no doubt face accusations from his critics that he ‘parked the bus’, a phrase he first used to describe a Jacques Santini Spurs side when he was in charge of Chelsea, but this was just extremely canny management which was underlined with 25 minutes remaining when Tottenham’s lead became two.
Sterling and Sergio Aguero had been warming up down the touchline, but it was Mourinho who made the first change with Lo Celso replacing Ndombele and the Argentine made a stunning impact.
The substitute had been on the pitch for just 35 seconds, when Alderweireld played a long ball to Kane who ran into the City half before releasing a wonderful pass for Lo Celso to take a touch before finishing past Ederson.
Mourinho jumped to his feet to celebrate what had become a masterclass from the Portuguese and Guardiola had no response.
Brilliant from Spurs. A counter-attack gameplan executed to perfection, solid, organised, committed, and tenacious. Man City are missing something in the middle of the pitch and up front and I think the solution might be in the transfer market… next summer.
90 mins – Spurs 2 Man City 0
City still cannot find a way to score. It’s not that they’re predictable but that it’s so difficult to create anything against a team set up like Spurs are. I think they’re missing a really top level striker and some aggressive players in midfield. Hojbjerg would be great for Man City, for example.
Lloris has just made a great save from close range as Dias heads a free-kick cross straight at the goalie.
88 mins – Spurs 2 Man City 0
Kane still has the energy to race away from Rodrigo up the left wing, Dias comes across to take him on instead and fouls the striker. Spurs take their time over the free-kick. What a performance from Kane tonight.
87 mins – Spurs 2 Man City 0
Really not looking forward to Guardiola’s post-match interview. The reporter who has to ask him questions on live TV is going to have a tough time. This is Guardiola’s worst ever start to a league season…
84 mins – Spurs 2 Man City 0
De Bruyne lifts a free-kick into the area, Sterling is the target and unsurprisingly he does not win the aerial battle at the far post. City look like they’re running out of ideas here. Spurs have every avenue roadblocked.
81 mins – Spurs 2 Man City 0
Alderweireld has gone down with a groin injury and can’t play on. That’s another player fallen victim to the fatigue of playing a million games every week.
Joe Rodon about to come on for him. He’s a big lad! Alderweireld taking his time to leave the pitch here.
78 mins – Spurs 2 Man City 0
Jesus goes on a little dribble and space opens for a shot but again it’s blocked by a Spurs defender. There’s just no way past them!
Spurs have 10 men behind the ball as City try to work a chance.
76 mins – Spurs 2 Man City 0
Kane is playing like one of the very best centre forwards in the world in this game. The centre-backs don’t know what position he’s playing, he moves everywhere and anywhere he deems appropriate, doesn’t stop running, always a threat on the counter. City could do with a player like him!
73 mins – Spurs 2 Man City 0
Aurier falls for a start-stop from Bernardo and gives away a free-kick near the area. Mahrez and Bernardo are the players to make way for Sterling and Foden. Foden will give City some much needed creative drive here, he makes things happens.
Mourinho responds by taking Bergwijn off and bringing on Moura.
71 mins – Spurs 2 Man City 0
Sterling and Foden look ready to come on and are exactly the sorts of players City need on the pitch just now. I’d imagine Mahrez and Bernardo will be replaced here, they’ve not offered anywhere near enough. Mahrez hasn’t really been in the game.
69 mins – Spurs 2 Man City 0
This is such a Mourinho performance. Spurs have been excellent and the game has gone exactly how the manager must have predicted it would.
LO CELSO SCORES WITH HIS
FIRST SECOND TOUCH!
Spurs 2 Man City 0
Wow. A quick, direct Spurs attack, a turn from Kane and a perfect through-ball to Lo Celso. The substitute takes a touch and then fires the shot past Ederson, who again might be out of position here. So not
65 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
Ndombele off, Lo Celso on. He’s been superb today and looks disappointed to be substituted.
64 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
And after all this patient waiting, defending, defending some more, clearing… an opportunity to get Son in behind springs from nowhere! Kane threads him in, Ederson is miles off his line and easily rounded, Son’s touch is heavy… and he can’t get a shot away. So close to a second for Son.
62 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
City keep going at Spurs, stop a counter, De Bruyne drives at goal and Dier stands up to block his shot. City getting closer and closer, Spurs could maybe do with some sort of way to halt the momentum.
And here comes the relief – Laporte’s gone down holding his face in the area. It seems like he’s taken a knock to the head from Alderweireld’s boot while falling to ground.
59 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
There’s not much to really tell you other than that it’s still being played at a really high tempo, both teams aggressive, City with all the possession but almost no penetration, and Spurs sitting deep waiting to counter.
56 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
De Bruyne with a rare misjudged cross after bursting into the area to pounce on a loose ball. City just need to keep their heads cool here and wait for their chance.
53 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
Mahrez tries to bend one in from range but Lloris is never troubled by it. All of City’s shots are coming from distance.
51 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
Spurs win a free-kick and again somehow manage to find a way to get men over as Reguilon overlaps and Bergwijn joins the attack late. Ndombele has been superb so far this evening.
Another attack for Spurs, Ndombele tries to create something, Kane wants to shoot from range but doesn’t get the chance to and eventually City win possession back after a poor bit of control from Dier.
48 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
City have started sharply and upped the tempo of their passing. A passing move ends as Mahrez lifts a cross over Torres’ head but Spurs look a little bit slower already. I wonder if they’ve been told to just lower the energy a little bit to conserve it for the entire half.
A good point from Jamie Redknapp at half time, who says that Spurs will get increasingly tired as the game goes on if they keep defending in the way they are. This match might change in the final 15 minutes.
A tight game
See, it’s only one little mistake that’s separated the teams here. Spurs would be playing in exactly the same way if the score was 0-0 – like Guardiola said before the the game, Man City are a phenomenal team who a couple of seasons ago looked untouchable. It’s a bit of a team in transition at the moment but they are incredibly hard to play against and opening up or trying a high press is an easy way to guarantee you get pumped by a few goals. Leicester were excellent against City playing in this way, a system that Mourinho has basically perfected over time. If his players can put in another strong performance in the second half they have a huge chance to take the three points.
Spurs have played that perfectly. They’ve controlled the game out of possession, City are terrified of the counter-attack and Spurs’ aggression and directness has been the difference. They’re winning the battle – and the match – at the moment.
45 mins+1 – Spurs 1 Man City 0
De Bruyne tries to make things happen on his own again and boots a shot from 25 yards which deflects behind. The corner is fired in and Lloris catches, before launching a long pass towards Bergwijn. Throw-in to Spurs near the Man City box.
44 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
Here’s an ominous little stat/fact for you:
- Jose Mourinho sides have lost just one of their last 68 PL games when scoring the first goal (W57 D10).
City are still looking for a way in but wherever they go they’re outnumbered. Spurs patient and making the right decisions.
42 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
What a touch by Cancelo. He completely bingos Son with a little spin on the spot, threading a pass into a crowded area towards Torres. He’s swarmed out of it and City cannot get a shot on target.
39 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
Spurs in their deep defensive block, City not looking full of ideas. The tempo is a little slower than it needs to be to break this down.
36 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
Laporte is following Kane all over the place and giving him little digs when he gets a chance. Kane seems to know about it and wins his side a free-kick near the halfway line to relieve some pressure.
33 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
This is a proper battle, it’s a great watch. Both teams are really going at each other and being super physical but it’s all being done with a clever head. As in, nobody is trying to hurt the other, they’re just trying to out muscle, out work, out run their opponent.
Meanwhile, Riyad Mahrez’s first touch would be the most swiped thing on Tinder were it a human entity. How on earth does he kill a ball like that so easily?
30 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
Rodrigo is going ‘NO WAY! NO WAY!’ to the referee about the decision and it’s a strange world where not only are the referees now doubted but the video evidence is disputed too.
Mike Dean heads over to the monitor to review his own decision. It’s a tight one. I can’t quite tell. It looks as though the ball comes off his right shoulder before hitting his knee, before hitting his chest.
The referee has a look… and says NO GOAL!
Laporte scores! But wait – Spurs think the ball came off Jesus’ hand before he teed up his teammate for the finish. VAR is checking it now.
27 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
Great awareness from Hojbjerg there to pick out Wijnaldum in a quick Spurs attack. He overlaps left and just as it looks like the midfielder will drill a cross to the strikers at the far post, he tucks it back for Wijnaldum. Rodrigo gets back in time to steal the ball and stop him from shooting inside the area.
City go up the other end, Bernardo can’t find space to shoot, Spurs defend the box by clearing anything that comes their way and City keep the move going. Still going… they could be in here!
24 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
City controlling the possession still, doing all their work with the ball. According to my little Opta tool they’ve had 70 per cent of it so far, while this average position map does a pretty good job of visualising the game. Spurs sat recoiled like a spring, City getting plenty of touches but wary of that Spurs counter.
21 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
- Spurs (11) have scored the most first-half goals in the PL this season, more than Man City (10) have netted in total.
Torres is magic by the way. His first touch is outstanding and that makes such a difference, allowing him to control a hard pass and dribble past a defender with one touch of the ball on the wing, taking City up the pitch to win a corner. Practise your first touch, kids.
18 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
De Bruyne goes nuts at the assistant referee. “Look at where the f***** line is!” he yells as a defender stands awfully close to their attempt at a short corner. The ball is fired low into the area and dealt with by Spurs.
16 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
Rodri gets his head to a free-kick from De Bruyne but shoots straight at Lloris. If that had gone either side the goalkeeper was in trouble.
Spurs defending in a 4-4-2 high up the pitch, with Ndombele alongisde Kane. They’re winning the midfield battle at the moment, which is a proper battle at the moment with plenty of tackles.
GOOOOOAAAA – offside
This is brilliant from Spurs. It’s absolutely top drawer. A passing move from defence to attack pulls City all over the place, players out of position, caught out by quick little one-touch passes, and Son sets up Kane for a ping pong Pro Evo 5 style finish into an empty net but just as the celebration music starts in the stadium, the goal is ruled out for offside.
13 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
Spurs break quickly down the left with Bergwijn but Rodri does well to control the play and wins possession back. The ball goes up the other end as Torres runs in behind but Sissoko follows him and sees it out for a goal kick.
10 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
City are in control of possession early on, Spurs sitting behind the ball. The passing is quick, thumped, purposeful and it’s causing problems! A ball into Jesus, who touches it round the corner, goes past two tackles, ducks into the area and then goes down before he can shoot, the ball rolls to De Bruyne who absolutely powers it towards goal but ends up hitting Jesus, who is on the floor! VAR briefly checks for a penalty (never) and play continues.
7 mins – Spurs 1 Man City 0
That was so easy for Spurs to score. Such a classic Mourinho team goal: wait, wait, clinically finish a chance from a silly mistake by the opponent. Ederson has made a few errors this season and last by the way, though that one won’t show up on Opta data as it was a poor decision/positional error.
SON HAS SCORED!
Spurs 1 Man City 0
A free-kick is passed to Ndombele, he turns and takes out two midfielders in doing so before lifting a beautiful pass over the high defensive line. Ederson comes out way early and Son can easily shoot underneath him to give Spurs the lead.
5 mins – Spurs 0 Man City 0
Really nice play by Man City early on, lots of movement and some sharp passing… but Spurs look ready to hit them on the break and Walker has had to do a bit of defending early on. I think Guardiola might have just shouted “well done Kylie!” to the defender, which seems like an unnecessary nickname. It’s longer than his actual name, for a start.
3 mins – Spurs 0 Man City 0
Torres goes on an early run from the left wing, bursting past a defender to get a hit on goal from about 30 yards which Lloris catches easily.
City’s shape is a 3-2-something at the moment, with Cancelo tucking into midfield alongside Rodri as they build up from the back.
The players are out
Manchester City and Spurs are doing a minute’s applause in memory of Ray Clemence.
Pep Guardiola joins into the Sterling debate
“I decide for players. Trained one day the last week, but it is a special physicality, and he’s not perfect perfect.
“He came back and is important, we were time without a strikers and it’s important for us to have both. All clubs need their important players and as a striker, Sergio is amazing.
“Team is perfect, so good. It’s the same team that score more than 100 the last two seasons, they’re so good.”
I thought the last bit (team is perfect) was going to be Guardiola doing his difficult best in the interview, but he’s genuinely just trying to be positive. Perhaps we need to view him through less pessimistic eyes at times. I am aware there is an antonym to pessimistic, by the way.
Jose Mourinho up to tricks
“Progress is a process. We know it is going to be a very difficult match for us.
“We are not as ready as Sterling because he was resting the whole week but we are fine. Bale was international team, played 90 plus 75, which for him at this moment is quite a lot. Bergwijn was with us training, recovering.”
Man City really, really need a win today to prevent themselves drifting too far out from shore. This is what the table looks like:
A lot of pressure on Guardiola at the moment, even though he’s just signed a new two-year deal at the club. I’m a little surprised Mourinho hasn’t played that card in the buildup to this match. If he has I’ve missed it.
Jamie Carragher on Jose Mourinho
Jamie Carragher’s column this week is on Jose Mourinho and how Spurs could push for the title but won’t end up winning it and you can read his words by clicking the link below:
Here are the teams! Both are playing 4-3-3, though City will look more like a 3-1-4-1 in possession as Walker tucks in and Cancelo gets wide left. Jesus starts up front which means Torres will go wide left, which also means that Sterling genuinely did have to miss the England squad because he’s not fit enough to start.
Spurs have a dynamic midfield three protecting the back four, with Reguilon and Aurier pushing high up the pitch. It’s quite an attacking setup from Mourinho, which is surprising!
The Big Game
What a match we have for ourselves here this evening! I’ve (quietly and secretly) said that Tottenham could genuinely push for the title. It’s Mourinho’s second season in charge, they have elite players like Son and Kane, aggression in Hojbjerg, Alderweireld and Sissoko, pace in wide areas, a bit of cunning… everything is in place for a solid Mourinho team.
Manchester City are a confusing, wonderful animal. They are brilliant to watch but too easily fall into patterns that the opposition can block, and when they play without intensity and heat aren’t quite the all-destroying beast of their last title winning season. Without a fit striker they aren’t the same for sure, so it’ll be interesting to see if Gabriel Jesus is available for today’s match.
Mourinho vs Guardiola has always been a fascinating tactical battle and the same will be on show today, hopefully. If Spurs sneak a win – which is entirely possible – they would move eight points clear of City in the table, which even at this early stage in the league is an advantage. 2020 has been a weird year.
One thing hasn’t changed though, and that is the professional dislike between the two former Barcelona colleagues in charge of the teams tonight.
“He has to go to the doctors of the national team and Manchester City,” said Guardiola about Mourinho querying why Sterling was pulled out of the England squad. “Except maybe Mourinho is a doctor, I don’t know.
“Listen, I’m not going to answer anything about José. I said the doctor because he accused us of something we have done that is not true. You have to speak to the doctors about these other things, don’t ask me. I’m almost 50, I’m old enough to understand…”
It’s hot. Guardiola’s heated. Mourinho is almost certainly playing it cool. WHO WILL EMERGE VICTORIOUS? As long as the answer is ‘our eyes’ after a fascinating goal-fest then we’ll all be happy.
Kick off is 5:30pm and you can read live updates right here in our live blog with me, JJ Bull. I’ll do some live analysis with diagrams and Opta data to support.
Source: The Telegraph Travels