JB’s second lessons learned workshop of the week…
Reality has bitten for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City this week and having avidly followed his press conferences to date, tonight I am suggesting that he has been hinting gently that a defeat was coming. He isn’t daft. Twelve games into three campaigns thus far with the early season gold dust settled, we have a much clearer indication of where we are at.
Before focusing fully upon City, I repeat what I typed recently in that Spurs in my opinion were the best side we played last season and the rich promise they demonstrated then is developing steadily into the real deal on today’s evidence. Mauricio Pochettino, far from a mug himself, deployed his team in close to identical fashion to Guardiola. Two high back lines resulting in a glut of offsides. The biggest difference being that Pochettino’s men were the more committed, the more composed in defence, the more physically imposing, were that bit more direct and carried two supercharged fullbacks that City just do not have.
The proof lies clearly within the match statistics.
Spurs conceded twice as many fouls as the Blues as they out-harried their opponents all over the park. This combative approach tellingly reduced City to only 425 passes in the game whereas previously under Pep we registered totals close to 700, home or away. City still out-passed their opponents by some distance but when possession told and they broke through, they found a robust defence that was in no mood to offer up the type of kamikaze gifts that City have either played an opening weeks dalliance with or offered up on a plate as our defenders continue to grapple with Pep’s system. I am certain that this composure will come with time and familiarity, but let’s face it, we can honestly say that top of the league in October, we have just about got away with it and would have taken this position in the most incredibly competitive top flight for decades before the first whistle sounded. This international break breather comes nicely timed for us, not least in the medical department.
This is developing into a potential humdinger of a season. Today’s result will provide a filip to not only Spurs but similarly armed clear and present title contenders Liverpool and Arsenal. It is these three sides that I believe will provide a season long direct threat to Pep’s men. From what we have seen so far with the benefit of the reminder we have just witnessed, priceless wins home and especially away at top six sides is where the Premier League title will be won.
The final word today. City still look like a team crying out for leadership and solid captaincy. The most composed City player, especially in defence today was John Stones. Pep could do worse than have him lead the side out against Everton and stick with him.
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