Tottenham 0 Manchester City 2: Is the title race over? How big was Ortega’s save? Has Postecoglou presented a Plan B?

Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday night to move within one win of a fourth straight Premier League title.

City had a number of chances in the first half, drawing some good saves from Guglielmo Vicario in the process, but the game was level as both teams went in at the break.

But the game — and the title race — was essentially defined by two moments. First, there was Erling Haaland’s goal after a brilliant pass from Kevin De Bruyne. Then, later on, there was a Stefan Ortega save from Son Heung-min – at which point it was followed by City’s late penalty from Haaland.

Here, The one from Athletic pundits weigh in on Tuesday night’s crucial clash.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City match scoreboardshowing threat history, territory, match stats, shot maps and passing networks

Was this the night City secured the Premier League title?

You don’t need me to tell you, but I will anyway: this was a massive night for City.

From the start, the talk of Spurs not wanting to win (the players did), the fireworks outside an empty hotel, the nervous first half, Ortega’s save, City’s nerves, the 10 minutes added on, Haaland’s penalty ( and what a penalty), this had all the drama people craved (though not the kind that ends with the city losing points, which is what many people are after).

City have struggled with the ‘Big Six’ this season, beating Manchester United twice but not doing as well otherwise. As a result, they haven’t really had a huge moment that can be looked back on to define their season.

They were relentless against the others – they hadn’t lost in five months – and they did it mercilessly, but that invited talk of it being boring. The full debate is for another day, and as I say, there was no drama here to boost Arsenal’s title hopes, but this was indeed a night of high drama.

Although City still need to beat West Ham on Sunday to complete the job, they have taken a huge step towards winning the title four years in a row and making history in the process.

Sam Lee

How crucial was saving Ortega?

For a second or two it looked like the moment he could deny City the title.

The son running toward the goal, with no one between him and Ortega, with all the time he needed to pick his spot. It was the goal I had seen scored hundreds of times before.

Son heads Ortega in the City net (Sky Sports)

Ortega saves Son’s shot (Sky Sports)

Guardiola eyes Ortega rescue (Sky Sports)

Had he scored, City would have had just minutes to save their season. The stadium held its breath – Guardiola even fell to the floor in worry – but all Son could do was fire straight at Ortega. No one could believe it.

It felt like Arjen Robben missed the 2010 World Cup final. Minutes later, Erling Haaland buried the penalty that put City back in pole position.

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Has Postecoglou finally shown a Plan B?

For some time now, Spurs fans have been accusing Ange Postecoglou of not having a Plan B, of not adapting to the opponent or the players at his disposal.

But here, Postecoglou unleashed a tactical plan that was radically different to what we’ve seen from Spurs this season. Rather than the usual 4-3-3, Spurs went for a 4-4-2 without a striker, with Son Heung-min wide on the left and Brennan Johnson wide on the right. The midfielder formed of four was arranged with James Maddison and Pape Matar Sarr the most advanced.

It didn’t mean any points up front for Tottenham, but it allowed them to block most of City’s attacks in the first half. And with midfield runners attacking that space, Spurs had the mobility to cause City problems.

The problem was that Spurs lacked quality in the final third and the openings they did make never came to anything, but it left Spurs fans wondering where this kind of imaginative tactical approach went in the final months of the the season.

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Could Ederson miss Sunday’s game?

It was clear that Ederson did not want to leave the pitch after being tackled by Cristian Romero, but the decision was made to save him from himself with apparent concussion concerns.

Ederson is as tough as they come (he left the City Ground in a sling a fortnight ago but was well enough the following weekend) but head injuries are not to be taken lightly.

Romero slams into Ederson (Getty Images)

If it is a concussion, there are questions about whether he can play in the final game on Sunday, as new rules for the 2023-24 season state that any player who is removed from a game after suffering a head injury will not be able to play again . for a period of seven to 12 days, depending on the severity of the head injury.

Stefan Ortega replaced Ederson for a remarkable fourth time during a game this season, and luckily for City, he appears to be the best back-up goalkeeper in the world: that save to deny Son at the end is worthy of a new contract. own. Ortega most likely leaves at the end of the season for more regular football, with City already looking for replacements, but what a way to go.

It wasn’t the only possible blow for City, as De Bruyne suffered a knock just minutes after his assist for Haaland, was treated and then came off as a substitute shortly afterwards.

Sam Lee

How did City end their run of bad luck at Spurs’ new stadium?

Phil Foden’s volley was denied by a powerful left arm, De Bruyne’s spin and shot was beaten – this was starting to look like a familiar night.

City’s miserable record at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is well documented, but when they simply had to win, they found a way.

Haaland’s tap-in was their 79th Premier League shot at the stadium and their first goal. Depending on the quality of those chances, the average team would be expected to score more than nine. His second, from the penalty spot, felt like a title win and the end of an unusual run.

More importantly, City kept Spurs at bay. In the same six clashes at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, they have scored six of an expected total of 5.3, but an incredible save from Ortega to deny Son – their main punisher over the years – ensured that City leaves the stadium with monumental cleanliness. sheet.

Thom Harris

Was this Bentancur back to his best?

It was a night that ended in great frustration for Rodrigo Bentancur – he was furious when he was substituted after 55 minutes – but before that, it had probably been his best performance of the season.

It’s been a long road back for Bentancur after returning from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in October and other troubles since then, but Tuesday night saw the midfielder back to his best.

Sometimes it takes seeing a player as his old self to realize how much you missed him and that was the case with Bentancur here. The ability to take the ball into tight areas, slide away from challenges and play incisive passes was a feature of his first year at the club until his ACL injury.

The early substitution was certainly a consequence of his continued search for full form, but this was a performance that offered promise for next season, which was always considered a more realistic time frame to see him consistently able to play to the max.

Charlie Eccleshare

Why did City focus their play on the right?

Tottenham’s surprising defensive form – pressing aggressively from a 4-2-4 to put City’s formation under pressure – caused City plenty of problems in their tackling game in a tense first half.

As the front four continued, the lofted pass to De Bruyne and Foden opened up, but City struggled to make the ball stick, with Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg and Bentancur covering the pitch and holding down their defensive duties well.

The center of the pitch was congested, so City began to launch passes down the wing, with Kyle Walker the main beneficiary in the opening 20 minutes on the right. In front of Micky van de Ven, a centre-back covering the full-back, space opened up as the Dutchman instinctively cut inside.

With some faltering crosses and pullbacks, Guardiola changed things up in the first 45 minutes, pushing Bernardo Silva into a higher position to receive those passes – the idea being to double the threat; Silva was able to cut inside on the left foot and Walker to overlap if the opportunity arose. The city’s crossing network illustrates that clear tilt to the right, unable to make much headway on the opposite side.

City had to adjust to an uncharacteristically uncharacteristic night in midfield and played in a strange, slightly tentative first half.

Thom Harris

What did Ange Postecoglou say?

Postecoglou criticized the atmosphere around the club. He said: “I think the last 48 hours have revealed to me that the foundations are quite fragile. This is what I feel.

“The last 48 hours have revealed quite a lot to me. That’s okay, that just means I have to go back to the drawing board with a few things. Out (the club), in. It was an interesting exercise.

“I probably misread the situation on what I think is important in our effort to become a winning team. But that’s okay, that’s why I’m here.”

What did Pep Guardiola say?

Guardiola was reluctant to celebrate too much after Tuesday’s win. He said: “The players are not celebrating anything. Happy of course, relieved because we wanted to get to the last game.

“We know we have a job to do and the fans will of course support us.

“Now it’s Kudus, Antonio, Bowen, Ward-Prowse and Soucek with the adjustment pieces. Anything can happen.

“As I said earlier, to win Wimbledon, tennis players say that the serve to win is the most difficult. We have to prepare well, focus and try again.”

What’s next for Tottenham Hotspur?

Sunday, May 19 Sheffield United (H), Premier League, 4 p.m. UK, 11 a.m. ET

Spurs travel to Bramall Lane to face a bottom side who have conceded 54 goals at home this season. However, Sheffield United have lost just once at home to Spurs in the Premier League (January 2021), winning three and drawing one.

The reverse fixture in September was also a close one, with Posetcoglou’s side trailing late on. Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski completed a 2-1 comeback for Spurs, who were trailing 1-0 until the 97th minute.

What’s next for Manchester City?

Sunday, May 19 West Ham United (H), Premier League, 4 p.m. UK, 11 a.m. ET

City face a West Ham side managed by David Moyes for the last time. Could it provide an upset?

Former Manchester United manager Moyes has a decent record against City, winning 15 of his 41 games against them (only Fulham have won more). West Ham, however, have a dreadful away record against City in the Premier League, losing their last seven games at the Etihad by an aggregate score of 15-4.

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(Top photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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