Tottenham 1-5 Manchester City: Dzeko scores four but City impressive across the pitch
Manchester City produced an excellent performance to maintain their 100% start to the season.
Harry Redknapp was forced to use Niko Kranjcar and Luka Modric in the centre of midfield, whilst Peter Crouch got a start upfront.
Roberto Mancini gave Samir Nasri his debut in place of James Milner, whilst Nigel de Jong missed out through injury.
City were better in every department throughout this game.
City dominate first half
The first half started slowly, almost as if the game had kicked off too early for the players and supporters. It was also scrappy, with some needless bookings on either side. When it eventually settled down, City took command.
Whilst the sides were broadly playing the same system, the key was the use of wide players. Spurs’ are classic wingers who remained near the touchlines and wanted to take on full-backs, whilst Samir Nasri and David Silva came inside, picked up possession and contributed to flowing passing moves.
It can be a problem playing two wide players who like to come inside, because it makes the play narrow and predictable, and decreases the active playing zone meaning the opposition are less stretched (with the caveat that the full-backs get space to dart forward and provide width). Here, however, it worked quite well because Spurs had no true holding player – in fact, they had nothing like a holding player. Tom Huddlestone was only fit enough for the bench, and whilst Luka Modric and Kranjcar did a decent job in possession, they left too much space behind them. With Silva and Nasri both able to move into that position (which produced a good chance for Silva after seven minutes) and Aguero dropping deep, Tottenham were always likely to struggle in that zone.
The key was that Nasri didn’t both continually come inside. Nasri, in particular, kept width down the left and played in a different way to in his Arsenal days – in the sense that he got to a position near the byline, and then crossed the ball – albeit after checking onto his right foot. The first two goals, for Dzeko, both came from Nasri assists. He also enjoyed his relationship with Gael Clichy, who he knows from both Arsenal and France.
Redknapp tried to get some control of the midfield zone with the introduction of Huddlestone, who did a decent job in front of the back four. Still, City were the better side and Dzeko poked home another cross for his hattrick, whilst Aguero scored a great goal after another Nasri assist.
Tottenham’s problem was that City were finding too many gaps – and yet the more Tottenham tried to get back in the game, the more gaps they were going to leave. Being forced to replace Modric with Jake Livermore was maybe a blessing in disguise, but it meant there was less attacking threat. Jermain Defoe came on upfront but was forced to fend for himself.
In truth, the game was over by the time of Dzeko’s 55th minute goal, and the second half was a non-event as contest. Dzeko, however, was superb – clearly in form, now confident in the Premier League, and ready to lead City’s title charge. He was always a danger – he attempted ten shots in total.
An excellent performance from City, who utilised their three creative players well. The main man to benefit was Dzeko, who can now be sure of decent service in various ways – balls slid through the defence, crosses hung up, cut-backs from wide. City have a lot of attacking weapons.
Tottenham capitulated – they made it too easy for City between the lines and couldn’t get their creative players into the game.