LONDON, Jan 22: Pep Guardiola can often be seen scratching his head and he will have been doing plenty of that after seeing his Manchester City side throw away what had seemed an unassailable 2-0 lead.
One of the Catalan’s most common refrains this season has been exasperation at the problems his team have had at both end of the pitch – lots of chances created but too many squandered, the frustration compounded by the success opponents have often had maximizing relatively few openings.
This game followed a similar theme. Everton scored four goals against City from as many shots on target last Sunday. Chelsea three from four. Spurs scored from both of their shots on target here. City’s dominance until Spurs unexpectedly forced their way back was reflected in a few key statistics.
Harry Kane and Dele Alli managed just 11 touches each in the first half, when Spurs had a solitary touch in City’s penalty area compared to 28 by City in Tottenham’s box. City cannot continue being so wasteful, although a lively cameo from debutant Gabriel Jesus offers some promise.
Spurs show their mettle
There was a left-footed foreign goalkeeper guilty of some very suspect handling at the Etihad Stadium here – and it was not Claudio Bravo. Tottenham’s impressive defensive record this season owes much to the excellence and consistency of their goalkeeper, but if Hugo Lloris was a little unfortunate with City’s first goal, heading the ball against Leroy Sane whose handball was not spotted, he will not want to see a repeat of the second. Raheem Sterling’s cross should have been comfortably smothered by the Frenchman but it squirmed out of his grasp long enough for Kevin De Bruyne to claim his first league goal for four months.
It was a most uncharacteristic error but there will have been few more relieved people than Lloris when Heung-min Son claimed a precious equaliser. If Spurs seemed to suffer from stage fright to begin with and were horribly rattled by City’s pressing, did their fightback point to a real mettle in this side, who carved a draw despite not playing well? Given the manner of the goals they conceded, Mauricio Pochettino’s team could easily have sulked but they dug deep, were clinical and got their reward.
Stones may feel Otamendi deserves greater scrutiny
John Stones had something of a stinker against his old club Everton last weekend but he must wonder how he gets overlooked for Nicolas Otamendi. There was the curious sight of the Argentina defender raising his arm in the build-up to Tottenham’s equaliser when he would have been much better off focusing his attention on getting tight to Harry Kane, who was afforded the time and space in which to flick the ball into the path of Son to score.
Twice in the first half, Otamendi kicked the ball into touch when attempting a simple pass into Pablo Zabaleta’s feet, only to play balls behind the right back, and by the closing stages he was up to his old tricks, needlessly diving in at the feet of Son.
Almost every time the ball came in his direction, you could sense a sharp intake of breath among City supporters. And then there are the theatrics. Sure, Alli was wrong to shove Otamendi in the chest and deservedly booked but the manner in which the defender crashed to the ground had echoes of his nauseating tumble the previous weekend against Everton. Are City seriously going to win much with him patrolling central defence?
Man of the match
David Silva: De Bruyne was excellent but Silva was omnipresent and so often the man who made City tick going forward. He must be an absolute pest to play against. Small and slight he may be but try getting the ball off him. It sticks like glue to that wand of a left foot and, working in tandem with De Bruyne, he called Spurs all manner of problems, recycling the ball intelligently, always finding pockets and space and pressing and probing with that understated menace of his.
What City need to work on this week
It has been a familiar gripe of Guardiola all season and, with the scoreline goalless at half-time despite his side’s complete dominance, the City manager must have wondered if he would again come to rue a plethora of missed chances. So it would prove.
What Spurs need to work on this week
As unsettling as City’s intense pressing must have been, Tottenham were often their own worst enemies, particularly in the opening period, and Pochettino will be eager to see his defence regain some composure. Eric Dier, Kevin Wimmer and Kyle Walker all conceded possession cheaply, needlessly inviting trouble and it was no surprise to see the head coach withdraw Wimmer and switch to four at the back at half-time. THE TELEGRAPH