This Saturday, the Premier League weekend’s headliner had a surprise ending, as Tottenham came from behind to beat Manchester City by 4-1.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men – who were in ninth place before the start of the match – stunned fans and critics alike by scoring a surprising four times against the league leaders, who had only given up two goals in their previous six Premier League matches.
For the Spurs, one of their four goals was particularly important: the third one, which was scored by Harry Kane. The English international had gone six Premier League matches without scoring, and was in dire need of a confidence boost up until his 61st minute goal.
“It was no easy chance but I think it was important for him to score to take off the pressure,” said Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino after the match.
Kane looked confident on and off the ball since the first whistle, moving all over the final third of the pitch, and getting several good shots on target during the first half. His influence was key for Tottenham, as he served to spearhead counterattacks, and helped play in teammates, especially when his side looked for valuable offensive set pieces.
Manchester City opened the scoring through a well-placed first-time shot by Kevin de Bruyne inside the box. During the first minutes of the match, Manuel Pellegrini’s side looked dangerous and extremely comfortable playing around Hugo Lloris’s area. De Bruyne’s goal seemed like a logical outcome.
However, as the first half advanced it became clear that Manchester City were not in their best form when it came to keeping the ball. The citizens keep missing David Silva, their main organizer of play.
Despite De Bruyne’s magnificent stats in terms of goal-production – he has scored three times and assisted once in three games – the German’s organizational skills are inferior to those of Silva, and his passing against Spurs was below par. In fact, he completed only 38 percent of his passes in the first half.
PASS MAP: Kevin De Bruyne completed just 38% of his passes in the first half. Under par distribution. pic.twitter.com/gWKnepLQ4h
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 26, 2015
That way, despite their initial superiority, Manchester City allowed Tottenham to slowly claw their way back into the game by earning a fair share in the dispute for possession. And, as Eric Dier equalized the scoreboard with a long-range shot right before the referee signaled for half time, the tables were turned.
Two aspects that were key for Tottenham’s comeback were set-pieces and counter-attacks. The second and third goals came from the former, while the last one came from a perfect example of the latter.
Eric Lamela played an enormous role in both of these types of actions. Playing wide on the right flank, the Argentine was the London side’s main outlet when it came to launching fast counter-attacks. He scored his team’s last goal after a swift attacking build-up, and assisted the second one with an exquisite corner kick that found Toby Alderweireld’s head.
A “big, big” victory
After the match, Pochettino declared himself extremely pleased with his team’s performance.
“Our performance was brilliant, we played against a big, big side and I’m very pleased, I congratulate my players. It’s a big happiness for the supporters after our defeat to Arsenal,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, in the rival camp, Pellegrini fended off suggestions that goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s mistake in the second goal, and Sergio Aguero’s modest performance had been a crucial factor in the team’s loss. However, he admitted that his side was not good enough.
“We need to play in the way in which we started the season. Especially in the second half we didn’t play well, we didn’t create chances, but it is the matter of a team and not one player,” the Chilean told the BBC.
Next weekend, Manchester City will face off at home against Newcastle United, while Tottenham will play Swansea City at Liberty Stadium.