Tuesday, 30 August 2011

What a difference a year makes

Well, well well.

After our last trip to White Hart Lane (last season’s opener) I wrote about how Joe Hart dragged us through toscrape a 0-0 draw after Spurs had absolutely taken us to the cleaners. But that was last year. This time around, Redknapp’s men found themselves facing a different proposition altogether. At the end of 90 minutes, they were on the end of a 5-1 hammering, destroyed amidst a display of attacking fluency from Mancini's men.
There will be those of course who emphasise the ‘what ifs’ of this game. Gareth Bale had a glorious chance to open the scoring when found unmarked in the area, only to slice his effort over the bar. And then after Dzeko’s opener, Bale found Peter Crouch with a magnificent cross, with Crouch’s effort swerving inches past the post. Big chances, but in truth they were rarities in match where the home side experienced the full force of City’s attacking prowess.

It makes you wonder whether Mancini has had a brain transplant over the summer. There certainly won’t be many sides that win 5-1 at White Hart Lane this season. It is a total credit to Mancini that we set out in the right frame of mind and with right players on the pitch to issue Spurs this defeat. Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and of course, Edin Dzeko all combined brilliantly to play football that the watching support must have been proud to witness in the flesh.

The switch from Arsenal to City appears to have been seamless for Nasri, with the Frenchman setting up Dzeko’s first two goals, and then exchanging a sweet one two with Aguero to allow the Argentinean to power past Matt Dawson and strike a goal of unbelievable drive and skill.

I wrote recently about how we might still need to add natural width in the attacking department. It was clear here though, that with Nasri and Silva adopting wide positions and Aguero dropping off Dzeko, we didn’t need it. Nasri provided two excellent crosses from wide for Dzeko to score his first two goals. We were going narrow and wide and were having success every time.

The afternoon belonged to the Bosnian, the scorer of four goals that will certainly do his confidence no harm. Dzeko’s goals finally demonstrated to the Premier League how he is a striker that can do it all. Two poacher-like tap ins, an exquisitely re-directed header that completely wrong footed Brad Friedel, and finally, the icing on the cake, a fantastic curling shot in open play, sailing into the top corner after a neat interchange of passes with Gareth Barry – surely the pick of all the goals scored last Sunday.

A mention must also go to Yaya Toure. The towering Ivorian is playing a deeper midfield role than last season but – to his and his manager’s credit – this role is not necessarily less attacking. Yaya made the vital initial pass to set off the blistering counter attack that led to the second goal. Almost acting as a makeshift wing back, the Ivorian also overlapped Nasri on the right flank, receiving a perfectly weighted pass from the Frenchman, and crossing for Dzeko to tap in.

Naturally the comparison will be made with the exploits of our neighbours, who if score lines are anything to go by issued an even more emphatic 8-2 defeat to Arsenal. To look solely at the scoreboard though misses the context that gives meaning to these two results. United are playing some scintillating stuff at the moment, but Arsenal are a team in disarray, many players injured or suspended, morale through the floor with the loss of Fabregas and Nasri. Spurs however have no such weakness – this was after all a team consisting of Dawson, Bale, Modric, Lennon, Van Der Vaart and Crouch. So which is the more resounding victory?

Time will tell, but I don’t think I’ve seen City play with as much attacking fluency since the days of Eyal Berkovic and Ali Bernarbia circa 2001-02. Back then of course, a lot of things were different – we were playing against the likes of Crewe Alexandra, Grimsby Town and Rotherham United. Last weekend, we were a proposition that Spurs simply could not handle.

No comments:

Post a Comment