Premier League

Tottenham 0-1 Manchester City: 5 things we learned

 • by Mark Thompson
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A Riyad Mahrez goal gave Manchester City their eighth win of the season and put them top of the league on a patchy Wembley pitch.

City struck early, after just six minutes, with Raheem Sterling providing some great play to tee up the Algerian, but after that it was an open game.

Tottenham weren’t able to break through, however, and Mauricio Pochettino’s team stay fifth in the league – only one point behind Arsenal in fourth, but only one ahead of Bournemouth in sixth.

Here are five things that we learned from the match at Wembley.

Will to press but fear of pace makes for a fun match

The midfield opened up in a way that it rarely does in matches Manchester City play in, with the control that they bring.

However, both teams tried to press their opponent’s defenders while being wary of the space they might leave in behind their own. The combination meant that the midfield was often a runner’s paradise.

And when one midfield becomes open, the other tends to follow as they stream forward and leave space behind them for a counter-attack.

City lack a striker’s intinct?

It was a good thing that they were already leading, because City squandered two good chances in the second-half.

The most notable one was David Silva receiving a square ball on the edge of the six-yard box. He couldn’t quite get it under his spell with his first touch, but instead of taking a shot from point-blank range with his second he decided to lay it backwards to Raheem Sterling.

Maybe City are so used to scoring they’ve got bored of it.

The second was on a counter-attack with Kyle Walker streaming forwards, Sergio Agüero in support to his left. However, the two clearly aren’t used to attacking together, as the Argentine’s movement smothered Walker’s options instead of opening them up.

The value of defensively-sound full-backs

Attacking full-backs are beloved by modern managers who want a player to keep some width but their attacking midfielders to play closer to goal in more dangerous positions.

However, there’s a danger that they may become like ball-playing goalkeepers – desirable for modern footballing reasons but vulnerable defensively in a way that you really don’t want your team to be vulnerable.

It wasn’t just Kieran Trippier for Manchester City’s opening goal; Benjamin Mendy and Ben Davies had dodgy moments throughout the match which led to good chances. Even Kyle Walker, probably the best right-back in the league, didn’t have a particularly comfortable match.

Title race – on?

City have steamrollered a lot of teams in the early part of the season, but for the most part they were the weaker sides in the league.

A 0-0 draw at Anfield and a 1-0 win at Wembley are good results, but neither convinces you that City will walk the league like they did last season.

The top of the Premier League table

The top of the table is still very tight, with the top three separated by only three points, and both Chelsea and Liverpool may take solace in the fact that Pep Guardiola’s side didn’t look to be controlling the midfield as well as they might be expected to.

Still, despite looking very open at times, City only conceded one shot on target while taking six of their own, and have only conceded three goals in the league all season. The title race might be on, but City will still be the favourites.

Looks aren’t everything

There are severe cases of male pattern baldness that offer thicker coverage than what was on offer in areas of the Wembley pitch.

That said, the pitch played surprisingly well. Erik Lamela may blame it for his miss, but the ball didn’t bobble a whole lot more than it might have done on a normal pitch that had been played on for 80 minutes.

The NFL markings take some getting used to though.