After Mancini’s comments prior to this fixture about his side needing a few weeks to gain fitness and to build the players into a team rather than individuals, I sort of saw this type of performance coming against a strong Spurs side. We came up against the exact same side that gained qualification into Europe’s prestige competition and I can see the reason Redknapp isn’t massively concerned about not adding to his squad yet as his side were full of confidence after breaking the top four ahead of us last season.
Tottenham were quite dominant in the first 45 minutes and if it hadn’t been for the heroics of England’s number one goalkeeper, Joe Hart, City would have been down and out in this game at half time. The most impressive save of all was a brilliant reaction save to deny a volley from Defoe and that was followed by Huddlestone and Assou-Ekotto finding Hart in no mood to concede a goal after being chosen to start the game ahead of Shay Given. After a performance like this from Joe Hart, he will be an almost certainty to retain his position in goal for the first home game of the season against Liverpool.
For every good performance, someone is not going to have the best of days and today that poor performance came from Micah Richards, who had a torrid afternoon up against the impressive Gareth Bale. The Welshmen constantly cause Richards problems with his directness and simply outstanding delivery into areas of danger in the City box. Richards defensive abilities against the best left sided midfielders came into question today and his inconsistent performances will be a cause for concern for Mancini.
I was also impressed with Kolo Toure and Vincent Kompany at the heart of the City defence this afternoon after coming under intense pressure from the Tottenham forwards. Both centre halves were strong, resilient and dependable during the 90 minutes. These 3 factors were highlighted in Kompany’s last ditch tackle on Pavlyuchenko, just as the Russian forward looked likely to snatch three points for the north Londoners. I have always had concerns about Toure being good enough and personally preferred the partnership of Lescott and Kompany, but if Toure can provide more performances like today, he could be vital for us this season.
Out of the 4 new signings, I was most looking forward to seeing how Yaya Toure would fare in a tough Premier league encounter and he did not disappoint. He showed the qualities of Patrick Vieira in his prime, assured with his passing, strong in the tackle and a colossus in the centre of the midfield. With most people stating that he would be used as a defensive midfielder, I was pleasantly surprised to see him get forward as much as he could and one lofted pass in particular put Shaun Wright-Phillips clean through on goal, but the fans favourite hesitated with the ball on his left foot and was dispossessed.
A concern in regards to the tactics deployed by Mancini today was the three forward players, Silva, Tevez and Wright-Phillips. All three players looked to drift around the front line and whenever one of them got into a crossing position, there was no one in the middle who looked to get onto the delivery. I believe the game was crying out for a central striker like Adebayor to benefit from this tactic and I think only giving the tall striker ten minutes to try and get us a goal was not enough.
Finally, there seemed to be a problem with the players communicating with each other in today’s game as on many occasions, the City players were unaware of an advancing Tottenham player and needed a shout from a team mate of “man on!” Without this call, there were plenty of occasions when we lost the ball because of a lack of communication between the team.
Overall, I am happy with a point, which is an improvement on last season’s defeat. I think there were plenty of positives to take from the game and a few things that need to be worked on to make us into a better side. Like Mancini said give this side a few weeks to get to know each other and to become a team and we will be ready to dare I say it, be successful!
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