What Went Wrong Against City And Hull? – Tactical & Statistical Analysis

Manchester City walked around Tottenham Hotspur at times when the sides met last week. But despite their superiority, it’s difficult not to pick out Danny Rose’s dismissal as the key moment in City’s victory, the moment when Spurs were effectively forced to give in. The north Londoners found no such excuse after dropping points against Hull City a few days later.

But who has more to answer for: Tim Sherwood or the players? Tactics or individualal performances?

Hull's Shane Long, centre, scores against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League at the KC Stadium

Manuel Pellegrini’s side neared perfection in the opening half hour last Wednesday, with David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko linking up brilliantly with sublime vision and, eventually, deadly execution.

Aguero sprinted onto the end of a Silva through-ball to slot home the opener on 15 minutes. Although he won’t be, Tim Sherwood should be ruing a rather naive team selection. A holding midfielder wouldn’t have gone amiss against the Citizens’ pacey attack.

Michael Dawson performed admirably at times, but evidently lacks the pace to deal with the likes of Aguero et al. Etienne Capoue, who later arrived as a substitute (and scored), would have been ideal sitting in front of the centre-back pairing.

Skipper Dawson was Tottenham’s top tackler, and intercepted more than any other player last Wednesday.

Instead, Sherwood stuck with Nabil Bentaleb. The 19-year-old has settled into Spurs’ midfield surprisingly quickly for a recent debutant. However, Bentaleb was a little out of his depth against one of the best teams in the country, if not Europe.

Sherwood has emphasised the importance of the central midfield duo, whomever it may be, filling in for each other. For example, if Bentaleb were to move into an advanced position with the ball, Moussa Dembele would have to slot in to the more defensive position of the two.

But with City pressing high up the pitch, it was almost impossible for Bentaleb or Dembele to get forward at all. It would have been ideal to have a player like Capoue or Sandro holding the midfield, giving Dembele justification to roam. Potentially, this could forced Yaya Toure and the superb Fernandinho to sit a little deeper.

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This idea was essentially lacking when City struck first. David Silva was given far too much room in between Tottenham’s midfield and defence – a problem that could have been avoided with a defensive midfielder’s presence.

Chelsea went to the Etihad on Monday night with David Luiz and Nemanja Matic (who was later named man of the match) holding the midfield. Ramires would also drop deep when the visitors were on the back foot. Jose Mourinho’s tactic worked perfectly. This may have had something to do with Fernandinho’s absence in the City midfield, but Chelsea proved that pressing Pellegrini’s men with the deployment of deep-lying midfielders is an effective way to stop them.

As aforementioned, Tottenham failed to do this. Sherwood selected a partnership of Bentaleb and Paulinho against Hull. The former was one of the team’s top performers – his lack of defensive contribution didn’t affect the team negatively. But surely, Sherwood has learnt his lesson in terms of approaching teams of similar or superior footballing prowess. We shall see when we face Everton this weekend.

Spurs grew into the game against City in the last 15 minutes of the first half. Danny Rose consistently attacked down the left hand side, but let himself down with another collection of poor deliveries into the box.

Christian Eriksen might want to show Rose, along with Tottenham’s other wide men, how crossing should be approached. The Dane’s set pieces repeatedly troubled the opposition defence – a rare occurrence over the last few years at White Hart Lane.

On the opposite flank, Kyle Walker put in another solid performance at right-back. Both Rose and Walker were unaided by quiet, ineffective displays from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Aaron Lennon.

Danny Rose had more of an attacking influence than midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson against City.

As productive - and frankly underrated - as Lennon has been over the last few seasons, every year he lacks competition. The sooner Erik Lamela returns to fitness and settles in (touch wood), the better. The 21-year-old has the potential to be a more creative outlet than Lennon, roaming between central and wide positions, providing more varied opportunities for teammates.

Lennon’s display against Hull goes a long way in supporting this viewpoint. At times it was as if the winger wasn’t even on the pitch. Roberto Soldado’s presence, on the other hand, was clear for all to see; not that this was a good thing. For a player who scored so many goals from within the penalty area in La Liga, the Spaniard almost completely lacks composure when it comes to shooting in a Spurs shirt.

The penalty decision and red card all but killed the contest of the City match. The visitors went 2-0 up, and continued to play quick, expansive football against a team with fewer players on the field. As Sherwood said post-match, it’s hard enough to play against the table-toppers with eleven men. Manchester City were clinical and unforgiving.

In an attacking sense, Spurs showed some fight, but ultimately it was difficult to analyse specifics.They had been effectively forced to give up. Despite this, there was no excuse for the lack of cutting edge against Hull. Perhaps Tottenham were simply desperate to avoid defeat after the thrashing of a few days before. Nevertheless, given Sherwood’s naivety against the sides above Spurs, the White Hart Lane outfit can’t afford to be dropping points against lesser teams.


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