Tale of two attacks
There wasn't much between the teams in terms of shots or possession but an emphatic 6-0 scoreline tells a different story. Adam Bate looks at how Tottenham's problems in the final third continue, while Manchester City's attacking brilliance will surely be replicated on their travels soon..
By Adam Bate - Follow @GhostGoal. Last Updated: 25/11/13 11:18am
Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero proved a devastating pairing for Manchester City
Manchester City overpowered Tottenham with an astonishing 6-0 win in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Sunday that began with a goal after 14 seconds by Jesus Navas. A Sandro own goal and the first of two goals from Sergio Aguero saw City treble the lead before the break and the misery continued for Andre Villas-Boas and his team after the interval.
Aguero and his strike partner Alvaro Negredo added a goal apiece in the early stages of the second half as Manuel Pellegrini's side showcased their ruthlessness in front of goal and Navas added his second of the game in injury time by capitalising on yet another defensive error from a sorry Tottenham side.
Here we look at the Opta stats to evaluate where it went wrong for Tottenham as they failed to deal with the potent attacking threat of Aguero and Negredo, as well as looking at the away side's ongoing struggle to convert possession into goals...
Manchester City and Tottenham starting formations
Only Martin Demichelis survived from the back-four that lost to Sunderland last time out with Pablo Zabaleta, Matija Nastasic and Gael Clichy coming back in. Further forward there was a first Premier League start since September for Spain international winger Jesus Navas.
Pellegrini opted to continue with the successful partnership of Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo - and with good cause. The duo have 22 goals between them so far this season going into Sunday's contest.
Younes Kaboul was one of the men asked to deal with the City strike pairing as he made his first Premier League start since the opening day of last season. Jan Vertonghen was asked to operate at left-back.
In the Spurs midfield, Sandro was preferred to Mousa Dembele as Andre Villas-Boas sought to provide protection for his defence, while Andros Townsend was benched in favour of Erik Lamela and Aaron Lennon on the flanks. Roberto Soldado took the lone striker role.
Hugo Lloris was to blame for the early goal that allowed Jesus Navas to score for Man City
Where it was won and lost
"Their poor record is away. At home they are immaculate. We need to keep control of that." Those were the words of Villas-Boas minutes before kick-off. However, it took just 14 seconds for Spurs to lose that control following a poor error from Hugo Lloris.
So much had been made of Tottenham's defensive record - the best in the Premier League with just six goals conceded going into the game - but this was desperate stuff. Aguero seized on a miskick from the keeper before Navas finished brilliantly off the rebound.
Perhaps more alarming was the second City goal that arrived shortly after the half-hour mark as it was indicative of poor shape from the visitors. Lewis Holtby dropped into defence for a short pass from Lloris as the centre-backs split. When the France international opted to go long instead, the midfielder neglected to mark Aguero.
"Holtby is playing in the pivot for some reason and he then has no idea of his responsibility to get goal side," said Glenn Hoddle at half time. Although Aguero's shot was saved by Lloris, the ball subsequently fell to Negredo and his fierce shot ricocheted into the net via Sandro. It was just one example of how Tottenham struggled to deal with the front two.
Sergio Aguero netted twice from crosses after good hold-up play from Alvaro Negredo
Negredo had been dropped for the defeat against Chelsea last month as Pellegrini sought to find a template for his team to dig out results on their travels but if there is one thing he surely must not tinker with in an effort to find the right blend away from Manchester it is the strike pairing.
The link-up between the two was excellent and it was telling that goals three and four either side of the interval were similar in their build-up. The robust talents of Negredo proving vital with his expert hold-up play acting as a pivot for midfield runners before Aguero provided the finish.
The inclusion of Sandro as a holding midfielder was supposed to provide added protection for the Spurs back-four and the Brazilian did win possession of the ball more times (11) than any other player. But an early booking did present difficulties for him given the attacking movement in front of his defence and both Samir Nasri and Fernandinho danced past him in dangerous areas.
Despite good possession, Tottenham's first-half heat map shows there was little in forward areas
Tottenham actually had plenty of the ball in the first half - 58 per cent possession - with Vertonghen, Holtby, Paulinho and Kaboul the four players with the most passes in the opening 45 minutes. Unfortunately, they were so sterile with it, showing no ability to pick the right pass to Soldado, whose own movement looked disappointing.
"The midfielders see danger and they're physical lads," said Graeme Souness in the Sky Sports studio. "But do they see the picture to make things happen? It's not enough. They are bossing the ball but they're doing nothing with it. They've got people who can get the ball but there's nobody cute enough there. They don't have a clever pass in them."
In particular, Paulinho provided support for Soldado with his forward runs but lacked the inventiveness in his passing to even come close to making a breakthrough. Lamela was the man supposed to provide that creativity but he surrendered possession more times (18) than any other player and so two key passes represented a poor return for his ambitious use of the ball.
Paulinho passed the ball well in deep areas but could not pick out a man in the final third
There was some surprise when Villas-Boas opted to introduce Emanuel Adebayor for Holtby at half-time and switch to a 4-4-2 formation. It may have been a token gesture effort to get back into the game but it also ran the risk of seeing his side overrun when already three goals down. And so it proved.
Failure to track runners proved costly as a rare moment of impetus from Yaya Toure set up Aguero for the fourth goal before Negredo's crafty turn was far too good for the sluggish Michael Dawson as the Spaniard made it five. The impressive Navas had the final say, scoring his second of the game over 90 minutes of game-time after his first to cap the win.
Manchester City strikers Alvaro Negredo (9) and Sergio Aguero (16) complement each other
The result means City have scored 26 goals from six home games and the average position may suggests that it could offer hope that the form can be replicated away from the Etihad Stadium - with Negredo dropping off and Navas providing width, there is a 4-2-3-1 shape that can give control and attacking power.
But while Pellegrini may have his solution, it's back to square one for the shell-shocked Villas-Boas. Conceding as many goals in one game as they had in the previous 11 made a mockery of the defensive solidity for which his team had been praised. Moreover, the issues of creativity and finishing remain.
"It's impossible to play better than that. Away, we don't play so different, but it's different things like a mistake or bad luck, so we don't have all the points we deserve away. Here at home, the team not only plays, but scores all the chances, and that's very important. I really think we play exactly the same when we play away. Maybe the teams at home are more difficult than when we come here. We are working in that sense so we have the same style of play everywhere and we continue in the same way."
"It was a difficult start. Obviously conceding a goal in 15 seconds puts your plan in doubt and everything that you've been preparing. It's difficult to take. We had a very, very good reaction to the goal we conceded, and that's probably the only positive of the game that we have. Everything went bad for us. From being one of the best defences in the country to conceding six goals, there's not a lot we can say. We can say City were excellent, but we were extremely poor today and we paid a heavy price."
"City have won 6-0 and they've not played anywhere near their best. When the stats are that even and a team wins 6-0 it tells you that people are not doing their job. The first two goals came from poor kicks from Lloris but you can't lose a game like that by six. The first place you look is midfield. I can't remember Sandro and Paulinho doing anything clever with the ball. As for City, Negredo is a class act. He's got a bit of everything. He's got great awareness, nice feet, good awareness and an eye for a goal. I really like him."
While Negredo was a hugely impressive figure in attack for City, the man of the match award went to his strike partner Aguero, who claimed his 14th and 15th goals of the season in a livewire display. "He only played 70 minutes but he did enough to be the man of the match," said Alan Smith on co-commentary. "He's the jewel in the attacking crown for Manchester City. He's a world-class striker. What a performance."
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