Spurs were City`s main contender for fourth spot at the start of last season. As it turned out they didn`t have the squad to making a lasting push and City finished third. Last season`s affair was a drab nil-nil draw with a very defensive minded approach to the game and a man of the match performance by Joe Hart. How times have changed, City have Dzeko on fire, new signings in the likes of Aguero and Nasri and a new attacking mentality that has seen 44 shots in the first two games of the season and 10 goals scored in the last three games.
Mancini made three changes to the side that won at Bolton. Zabaleta came in for Richards, Clichy for Kolarov and Nasri for Milner. This has to be the most mouth-watering side Manchester City have ever fielded with an attacking four of Dzeko, Aguero, Silva and Nasri bolster by a defensive midfield of Toure and Barry. The stuff of dreams is made real by our owners and Roberto Mancini.
Attacking line up aside this is, no disrespect to Swansea or Bolton, our first real test. Spurs looked comfortable in the first half against United and were in not for individual errors and tired legs could have got a much better result than they did. History doesn`t bode well for City as Spurs have beaten City at home more than any other team.
City started the match kicking left to right and Spurs won the toss and kicked off and had hit a shot after only twenty seconds after Zabaleta was caught up pitch and out of position. Two minutes in and City hadn`t had a touch of the ball other than to put the ball out of play and Spurs second shot came twenty seconds later.
Good work by Dzeko found Nasri on the edge of the Spurs box on three minutes and although the shot was weak, the keeper only just managed to get a hand to the ball and push it away from goal.
Two minutes later and Dzeko`s first shot of the game went wide, but he was beginning to assert himself and the midfielders were finding him holding the ball up well to allow them to transition into attack.
On six minutes a lovely run from Nasri and play from Silva nearly led to a goal but the shot, which was on target struck a player and harmlessly deflected away. Only seconds later Modric was twisting and turning through the City midfield and ended his mazy run with a neat shot which went just wide.
This was end to end stuff and eight minutes in and Van De Vaart forced a neat save from Hart after making space for himself in the City box. The resultant corner was easily dealt with.
First yellow card went to Spurs after their right back brought down Aguero from behind in what was a cynical challenge. All this only ten minutes into what was fast becoming an entertaining game.
Dzeko second shot a sliced volley soon follow on twelve minutes after lovely interplay between Aguero and Silva.
Fourteen minutes in and City put together a lovely series of passes between Nasri, Aguero and Dzeko and City were starting to show glimpses of what they will be capable of when the new players settle in.
Silva burst into life on seventeen minutes after what must have been thirty unanswered passes between every player but the defenders. He took up the ball and ran along the eighteen yard line before unleashing a powerful shot well saved by the Spurs keeper.
Spurs were awarded a free kick and a yellow card was awarded to Barry for a needless late tackle on twenty two minutes. Van De Vaart struck a wicked shot which was going in at Hart`s near post before the England number one produced a fine save to push the ball round the post. Seconds later and Zabaleta was in the ref`s book for a poor tackle from behind on Bale.
Toure followed Zabaleta into the ref`s book on twenty five minutes for kicking the ball away as the game ebbed and flowed first with Spurs attacking and then City. Bale had a great chance to make it one nil to Spurs when he found himself free on the corner of the eight yard box with the ball at his feet. The usual calm player somehow contrived to hit the ball high and wide of the near post.
Next yellow card of the game came to Van de Vaart on thirty minutes catching Zabaleta extremely late so Spurs now had two yellow cards to City`s three.
One thing to notice was the fluidity of the City front four as they interchanged position with fluidity and ease. This was causing Spurs marking problems as players were unsure who to pick up. This uncertainty led to Barry, who had snuck up pitch, having a powerful shot from the edge of the box that went just over the bar.
Thirty three minutes in and City`s reborn striker Dzeko put the ball into the back of the net after lovely interchange between Nasri and Clichy which resulted in an inviting cross from Nasri which went over the keeper and landed on Dzeko`s right boot. One nil and the passing and movement which City were displaying was a thing to cherish for the fans and Dzeko had now scored in his last four games.
Aguero`s first shot came on thirty seven minutes and it was wide but his movement and feet were quick and he was looking sharp.
With seven minutes of the half to go City were having the lion`s share of possession, but against the run of play Bale put in a speculative cross into City`s box which was met by Crouch`s head. He produced a powerful header which grazed the outside of the post.
Two nil came on forty minutes. City broke with pace and just outside the Spurs box Silva played the ball wide to Nasri who once more put a beautiful cross into the box met by Dzeko`s head to produce a sublime cushioned header which wrong footed the keeper and dropped into the back of the net. City were looking the real deal now and the assured passing game and speed of movement were undoing Spurs.
One minute till half time and the towering Dzeko shot again this time from the edge of the box having been found by Silva. It brought a wonderful save out of the Spurs keeper. This was quickly followed by a rasping shot by Silva which went just wide. City were looking dangerous now and with each attack looked like they could score.
Half time and despite the endeavours of Spurs, this was a virtuoso performance by Manchester City as they began to show their true potential with wonderful passing, movement and attacking balance. Truly entertaining stuff.
One change at half time saw Rednapp replace Krancjear with Huddlestone to shore up their midfield which was struggling to cope with City`s fluid movement.
Spurs enjoyed the lion`s share of possession in the opening minutes of the second half but just as in the first, for all their endeavour, the final ball was poor, the attempted shot off target.
On fifty minutes Lennon turned Clichy and had a good two metre start to get to the by line. Clichy showed startling pace to not only catch up with the rapid Lennon but managed to put a fine blocking tackle in to put the ball out for a corner.
A minute later Huddlestone should have been booked for a vicious groin attack leaving his boot in Zabaleta`s crown jewels. The referee however was busy tying his shoe lace and thus didn`t issue what, consistency suggests, should have been a card.
Redknapp made his second change of the day replacing Lennon with Defoe in the search of goals. Lennon had been in Clichy`s pocket for the whole game and had in all honesty little impact in the time he had on the pitch.
Fifty four minutes in and after some wonderful build up play Aguero found Toure in the Spurs box. Toure charged to the by line and cut a hard low volley across the eight yard box. It intersected the Spurs defence and found the foot of Dzeko who stroked the ball past the despairing Spurs keeper. Dzeko was on fire with his first hat trick for City a perfect hat trick?.Right foot, Left foot, Header!
The game was over on the stroke of sixty minutes. A ball by Nasri on the inside left channel found Aguero one on one with Dawson. He stayed upright despite Dawson`s attempts at otherwise and struck a curling shot which beat the Spurs keeper and bulged the net. Four nil to City and this was becoming a statement of intent.
City were cruising now, stroking the ball round with aplomb and looking like a very good imitation of Barcelona.
The first substitution by Mancini came on sixty four minutes as Richards replaced the battered and bruised Zabaleta. This was quickly followed by Rednapp`s last substation as Modric was taken off to be replaced by a more defensive minded player. If City could hold on to the win which was looking increasingly likely, they would achieve only the second win at White Hart Lane in twenty years.
Sixty seven minutes in and Defoe unleashed a brilliant shot which Hart only just managed to palm over the bar. From the resultant corner an unmarked Kaboul headed past Hart who was unsighted by an offside Defoe stood just inches in front of him. Four one and poor marking by the City defence but the goal should not have been given.
Suddenly there was some life in Tottenham as Defoe unleashed another wicked shot which Hart did well to parry away from the oncoming Spurs players, for his defenders to clear. City were still the better team, but Spurs were showing glimpses of the team they were last season.
Spurs went down to ten men when Van de Vaart overstretched and instantly signalled to the bench that he could not continue. He was a forlorn figure as he walked down the tunnel. Mancini took this opportunity to change things round replacing the excellent Aguero with Savic.
Nasri and Silva exchanged passes on seventy nine minutes as Silva played the ball to Nasri on the edge of the box and ran on. Nasri played an exquisite chipped pass over the Spurs defence to find Silva. The shot went wide as Silva lost his balance stretching for the ball but another bit of magic by City.
Dzeko should have made it five one on eighty two minutes after Nasri found the by line on the City right and cut back a perfect cross to Dzeko. The ball was struck well enough but hit the keeper`s legs as he dived the wrong way. City had passed the threshold of twenty shots and over half of these on target. Fourteen goals in four games (including Milan) is a far cry from the goal shy team of last year and Mancini true to his word is playing attacking football?.United beware.
The possession stats for the last five minutes of the game were astonishing. City had eighty nine per cent to Spur`s eleven as they put on a show of total football with pass after pass after pass.
With twenty seconds of added time to go Dzeko played a one two with Barry. The ball from Barry was perfect and without breaking stride Dzeko unleashed a left footed shot from the edge of the box which had the pace and power to beat spur`s keeper hands down. Five one and the noisy neighbours were shouting from the rafters?.we`re here and you`d better watch out, we`re coming for you.
Joe Hart – 8
Didn’t put a foot wrong, great positioning and made to great saves. Not at fault for the goal.
Pablo Zabaleta – 8
Brought in to shepherd Bale on the left and was very effective. Kept Bale down to the minimum of crosses and took some hefty challenges from several Spurs players.
Vincent Kompany – 8
Apart from the goal had an outstanding Captain’s performance.
Joleon Lescott – 8
Didn’t put a foot wrong and looked excellent.
Gael Clichy – 8
Made Lennon look slow in one chase for the ball and had Lennon in his pocket from the first minute.
Yaya Toure – 8
Had an excellent game and set up Toure for the his third goal.
Gareth Barry – 8
Picked up the pieces in midfield and roved forward when play dictated. Booked early on but still put in some sterling tackles. Set up Dzeko’s fourth goal.
Samir Nasri – 9
Three assists in his first game and looks like he grew up with his team mates such was the instant understanding. Surely the final piece of Mancini’s jigsaw.
David Silva – 8.5
The third best player for once. Still ran the midfield and thrived on the movement and pace of his fellow attackers.
Sergio Aguero – 8
Scored a goal but wasn’t quite as involved as in previous games. Still made space for his colleagues and interchanged positions brilliantly.
Edin Dzeko – 10
His best performance in a City shirt and probably in his whole career. Topped off a perfect hat-trick with a fourth goal. Absolutely stunning game and this guy is going to put fear into all European defences. Benefited from some great crossing by Nasri.
Richards – 7.5
Came on for the injured Zabaleta and did the job he was asked. Gave more attacking outlet on the right hand side once Spurs were three down.
Savic – Too late to mark.
Came on to form a back three with Richards and Clichy pushing further forward.
Roberto Mancini – 10.
A masterclass in tactics and intelligent play. Changing the full backs to cope with Spur’s strength on the wings and setting out a fluid, pacy and simply fantastic team.
Harry Rednapp – 6.
Should keep his mouth shut really. The player that just moved for money tore his team to shreds. Although his likening City to Barcelona was spot on!