Manchester City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur
13.19 – Welcome to another day of Premier League action, with this Sunday looking particularly super. Four of the top five are facing off with Manchester City hosting Tottenham and, later, Manchester United travelling to Arsenal. The first game would appear to tell us a lot about both teams. Have City lost their early-season spark or can they produce in a big game? Would dropping points here be a sign of decline? Or can they emphatically re-assert their position? Have Tottenham got what it takes to mount a proper title challenge? Above all, can they get revenge for that early-season 5-1?
13.24 – The teams:
Man City: Hart, Richards, Savic, Lescott, Clichy, Barry, Milner, Silva, Aguero, Nasri, Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Johnson, Kolarov, Onuoha, De Jong, Balotelli.
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Parker, Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart, Defoe. Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Bassong, Dawson, Kranjcar, Livermore, Pienaar.
Howard Webb is reffing.
13.25 – Balotelli not fully fit, Adebayor ineligible.
13.31 – Tottenham kick off.
13.36 – Slow enough start despite Sky billing this as probably the greatest game since Brazil-Italy 1982. To be expected since City have been much more reserved of late.
13.38 – Spurs putting together some nice moves with City looking to break. The pattern, seemingly, has been set.
13.43 – Aguero rides a few tackles before unleashing, but it’s deflected wide. He must have the most elusive running style in the Premier League. Virtually impossible to get the ball off.
13.52 – Parker mishits and strikes feebly wide. It’s been a relatively fast-paced game… but nothing is really happening.
13.56 – Silva shoots just wide after Aguero had carried the ball in a loop for about 40 yards, not unlike a Sensible Soccer player on beginner level.
14.06 – Kaboul blazes it over the bar from an indirect free. The best Spurs have had to offer so far.
14.11 – This has been dull. They lied to us.
14.16 – City have the best second-half scoring record in the division. Maybe something will happen then. At the minute, they’re just controlling the ball near the Spurs box.
14.16 – Half-time. Not a second of stoppage time, illustrating that the game was just played with not enough actually happening to stop it in any meaningful way. Poor stuff.
14.20 – This happened in the cup version of this fixture almost 20 years ago:
14.33 – The second half is off. Let’s hope it picks up.
14.36 – City have upped the tempo a bit second half. Dominated first four minutes.
14.39 – It’s a lot more open to be fair. Both managers must have had strong words.
14.43 – GOAL! Manchester City 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur
That is an absolute screamer. David Silva splits the defence with a supreme slide-rule pass and the on-running Samir Nasri finishes with extreme prejudice from the edge of the box. Brilliant goal.
14.46 – GOAL! Manchester City 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Disaster for Spurs. Joleon Lescott – or Julian as Chris ‘Cookie’ Coleman insists on calling him – bundles the ball in from a corner. Great delivery and flick from Dzeko to make it easy for the centre-half. An oddly ferocious celebration from City thereafter.
14.49 – GOAL! Manchester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
This game has shifted 180 degrees! But, for City, it’s a pity that Savic didn’t do the same there. The centre-half misjudges a Tottenham punt to actually divert the ball nicely for Jermain Defoe. He’s left one-on-one with Joe Hart, takes it around him with one touch and slots home.
14.49 – This game has exploded.
14.52 – GOAL! Manchester City 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur
What a turnaround! For Tottenham and the game! bale has had a quiet game so far but that was anything but. The winger hits Lennon’s pass first time from outside the box and curls it across the goalmouth and over Joe Hart into the top corner. Stunning.
14.54 – We take it all back. This game is brilliant now. Four goals in nine minutes.
14.55 – Rafael Van der Vaart goes off. He’s been woeful.
14.58 – Tottenham in control now. At the minute, they look the likelier winner.
14.59 – Also worth remembering that City haven’t dropped any points at home this season.
15.00 – Spurs sense a possible win here. And they’re right to. City look shell-shocked.
15.06 – The game has calmed slightly. Spurs still just about the better of it though.
15.13 – It’s really quietened now. Are we going to see one last piece of drama?
15.16 – Both teams seemed to have settled for a draw. This is very like the opeiing half now.
15.17 – Four minutes added time.
15.19 – Oh Defoe! A miss that probably isn’t as bad as it looks! Savic makes another error, allowing Bale to tear at the City box. He squares for Defoe but the cross is just slightly too far ahead of the striker as he diverts it wide at full stretch.
15.21 – Drama! Twenty seconds from the end of stoppage time, City have been handed the opportunity to win it as Ledley King hauls down Mario Balotelli in the box. How cruel!
15.22 – Balotelli steps up…
15.22 – GOAL! Manchester City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur
… and Balotelli checks his run before coolly slotting it home. So much for Balotelli not having the mentality!
15.25 – Full-time: Manchester City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Wow. What a finish. What drama. What… a dull game for about 79 minutes. In truth, that match only had about 11 minutes’ lively action. But that action was supreme. Spurs came back from 2-0 down and looked the likelier to win it, only for King to then gift Balotelli the opportunity to win it. City maintain their 100% record at home and surely push Tottenham out of this title race now. A huge win.
15.35 – Welcome to the day’s final Premier League game and what has tradiotnally been the division’s keynote fixture since its inception in 1992-93. But, for all of the recent tradition in this one, it will have to do a lot to live up to the drama of the new guard, City v Tottenham, earlier today. Arsenal will be driven for revenge but are somewhat depleted by absences. United badly need to keep the pressure on City. It should be an open game.