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Tottenham 0 Manchester City 2: Is the title race over? How bad was Ortega’s stop? Did Postecoglou show a plan B?

Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday night to move one step closer to winning a fourth consecutive Premier League title.

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

But the game – and the title race – were essentially defined by two moments. First there was Erling Haaland’s goal after a brilliant assist from Kevin De Bruyne. Then, late on, there was a Stefan Ortega save from Son Heung-min – that moment followed by City’s late penalty by Haaland.

Here, Athleticism experts analyze Tuesday night’s crucial clash.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City match dashboarddisplaying threat timeline, territory, match stats, shot maps and passing networks

Was this the night City won the Premier League title?

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

From the build-up, the talk of Spurs not wanting to win (the players did), the fireworks in front of an empty hotel, the angry first half, the Ortega save, City’s nerves , the extra 10 minutes, Haaland’s penalty (and what a penalty), it had all the drama people wanted (but not the kind that ends with City losing points, which is what a lot of people are looking for) .

City have struggled against the ‘Big Six’ this season, beating Manchester United twice but not playing as well in the rest. As a result, they didn’t really have a huge moment that we can use to define their season.

They have been relentless against the others – they haven’t lost in five months – and they have done it mercilessly, but that has led to talk of boredom. The full debate is for another day and, as I said, there was no drama here that helped Arsenal boost their title hopes, but it was a very dramatic evening indeed.

Although City still need to beat West Ham on Sunday to get the job done, they have taken a big step forward to win the title four years in a row and make history in the process.

Sam Lee

How crucial was Ortega’s stoppage?

For a second or two, it felt like the moment that could deny City the title.

His son runs to the goal, with no one between him and Ortega, with all the time he needed to choose his place. It’s the goal we’ve seen him score hundreds of times before.

Son advances on Ortega in the City net (Sky Sports)

Ortega saves Son’s shot (Sky Sports)

Guardiola watches Ortega save (Sky Sports)

If he had scored, City would have only a few minutes to save their season. The stadium held its breath – Guardiola even fell to the ground in worry – but all Son could do was shoot straight at Ortega. No one could really believe it.

It was like Arjen Robben’s miss in 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 accused Ange Postecoglou of not having a plan B, of not adapting according to the opponent or the players he has.

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

This meant no reference point for Tottenham, but allowed them to block most of City’s attacks in the first half. And with runners from midfield attacking this space, Spurs had the mobility to cause City problems.

The problem was that Spurs lacked quality in the final third and the openings they made never came to fruition, but it left Spurs fans wondering where this sort of imaginative tactical approach was at during of the last months of the season.

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Could Ederson miss Sunday’s match?

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

Ederson is as tough as they come (he left the City Ground in a sling two weeks ago but was fit enough the following weekend), but head injuries should not be taken lightly.

Romero collides with Ederson (Getty Images)

If it is a concussion, there are questions about whether he will be able to play the final game on Sunday, as the new rules for the 2023-24 season state that any player removed from a game after having suffered a head injury and will no longer be able to play. for a period of seven to 12 days, depending on the severity of the head injury.

Stefan Ortega replaced Ederson, remarkably for the fourth time in a match this season, and fortunately for City, he emerges as the best backup goalkeeper in the world: that save to deny Son at the end deserves a new contract all by itself . own. Ortega will most likely leave at the end of the season for more regular football, with City already looking for replacements, but what a long 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 departed as a substitute shortly after.

Sam Lee

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

Phil Foden’s volley denied by a strong left arm, De Bruyne’s spin and shot pushed away – it was beginning to feel like a familiar night.

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

Haaland’s shot was his 79th Premier League shot at the stadium and his first goal. Depending on the quality of these chances, an average team should score more than nine. His second, from the penalty spot, looked like a title win and the end of an unusual duck.

Even more crucial was the fact that City kept Spurs out. In those same six encounters at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, they scored six from an expected total of 5.3, but an incredible save from Ortega on Son – their main punisher over the years – saw City leave their bogey stadium with a monumental clean. leaf.

Thomas Harris

Had this Bentancur returned to his best level?

It was a night that ended in huge frustration for Rodrigo Bentancur – he was angry when he was substituted after 55 minutes – but before that it was probably 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 worries since, but on Tuesday night we got a glimpse of the midfielder back at his best level.

Sometimes you have to see a player look like himself to realize how much you missed him and that was the case with Bentancur here. This ability to take the ball in tight areas, avoid challenges and play incisive passes was a particular characteristic of his first year at the club until this ACL injury.

The early substitution was surely a consequence of his continued search for full fitness, but it was a promising performance for next season, which has always been seen as a more realistic timetable to see him consistently capable of playing at full strength .

Charlie Eccleshare

Why did City concentrate their play on the right?

Tottenham’s surprising defensive shape – aggressively pressing out of a 4-2-4 to put City’s build-up under pressure – caused City plenty of problems in their approach play during a tense first half .

As the front four advanced, the pass towards De Bruyne and Foden opened up, but City struggled to get the ball to stick, with Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg and Bentancur covering the pitch and doing their jobs well defensive.

The center of the pitch was crowded, so City began throwing passes towards the wing, with Kyle Walker the main beneficiary in the first 20 minutes on the right. Facing Micky van de Ven, a central defender who covers the full-back, space opened up as the Dutchman instinctively slipped inside.

With a few hesitant crosses and pullbacks, Guardiola changed the game over the first 45 minutes, pushing Bernardo Silva into a higher position to receive those passes – the idea being to double the threat; Silva able to cut inside on his left foot and Walker able to overlap if the opportunity presented itself. City’s passing network illustrates this clear tilt to the right, unable to make much progress on the opposite side.

City had to adapt to an unusually hectic evening in the center of midfield and it made for a strange and slightly hesitant first half.

Thomas 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 how I feel.

“The last 48 hours have revealed a lot to me. It’s no big deal, it just means I need to go back to the drawing board with some things. Outside (the club), inside. It was an interesting exercise.

“I probably misread the situation as to what I think is important in our efforts to become a winning team. But it doesn’t matter, that’s why I’m here.

What did Pep Guardiola say?

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

“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 set pieces. Everything can happen.

“As I said before, to win Wimbledon, tennis players say that serving to win is the hardest. We need to prepare well, concentrate and try again.

What future for Tottenham Hotspur?

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

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

The second leg in September was also close, with Posetcoglou’s side pulling out late. Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski completed a 2-1 turnaround for Spurs, who were down 1-0 until the 97th minute.

What future 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 final time. Could they cause a surprise?

Former Manchester United manager Moyes has a decent record against City, winning 15 of his 41 games against them (only against Fulham has he won more). West Ham, however, have a terrible record against City in the Premier League: they have lost 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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