Spurs against City was surely the most intriguing Premiership tie of the opening day fixtures. They were the top two of a quartet of clubs battling it out for fourth spot, and the final Champions League place, for most of last season.
Whilst Spurs retain most of the squad that beat City, Liverpool and Villa to fourth last season, City have spent a couple of quid over the summer.
Following the signing of shrinking violet Mario Balotelli, City’s spending over this transfer window has exceeded £100million; of their big money signings, Aleksandar Kolarov, Yaya Touré and David Silva started at White Hart Lane. Spurs, meanwhile, have added only the Brazilian youngster Sandro Ranieri, who will not join the club until after the Copa Libertadores, which finishes on Wednesday.
Despite their massive spends, City were on the back-foot for the entirety of the first half. Spurs played some excellent attacking football with Gareth Bale on fine form, and Micah Richards, marking Bale at right back, will not want to dwell on this performance. Peter Crouch decided to use his height to occasionally try and head the ball, and it seemed to work for him: a good knock down for Defoe saw the England striker turn and shoot, only for Joe Hart to make an excellent reaction save. Huddlestone was next up, striking the purest of volleys from outside the box.
With Hart again making a good save. Bale then cut inside, ghosting past Richards, and was unlucky to see his shot come back off the far post.
The second half saw a much more even game, with City almost scoring just after the restart; a lofted ball from Yaya Touré putting Wright-Phillips in on goal, but the winger fluffed his lines (how he went to South Africa I will never know). Chances for Silva and Tévez followed, but Spurs still looked dangerous.
Pavlyuchenko troubled Hart with a couple of shots from distance, but Gareth Bale missed the best chance of the match when the ball fell to him 12 yards out, the Welshman got it all wrong on his right foot, awkwardly slicing it wide.
0-0 a fair result then? No. Spurs should’ve won this, such was their dominance in the first half. And City can thank one man for their first point of the season. It wasn’t Silva, or Tévez, or Yaya Touré. It was the man who cost £600,000 from Shrewsbury: Joe Hart.
Heurelho Gomes 6 Very little to do.
Vedran Corluka 6 Solid display, good passing, although little to do defensively.
Michael Dawson 6 Competent display, although little to do.
Ledley King 7 Solid defensively, and a real threat from set pieces.
Benoît Assou-Ekotto 7 Linked up well with Bale on the left, solid at the back.
Aaron Lennon 7 Played well, though maybe not as explosive as he’d like.
Gareth Bale 8 Started this season as he finished the last.
Tom Huddlestone 7 Colossal in midfield, impressive shooting once again.
Luka Modrić 6 Quiet game, passing a little sloppy.
Peter Crouch 7 Linked well with Defoe, some good headers for Defoe.
Jermaine Defoe 7 Found himself up against an excellent Joe Hart.
Robbie Keane 6 Little impact when he came on.
Pavlyuchenko 7 Looked lively, a couple of decent shots foiled by Hart.
Giovani dos Santos 5 Didn’t turn the game.
Joe Hart 8 Excellent game fully justified Mancini’s decision to play him.
Micah Richards 4 Woeful.
Aleksandar Kolarov 5 Didn’t look great, and went off injured at half time.
Kolo Touré 7 Looked solid in an otherwise unconvincing defence.
Vincent Kompany 6 Spent most of the game on a booking.
Nigel De Jong 6 Didn’t kick anyone in the chest.
Yaya Touré 6 Looked off the pace, needs time to get used to the Premiership
Wright-Phillips 5 Awful, as per.
Gareth Barry 6 Quiet, kept it simple.
David Silva 5 Clearly an excellent player but needs time I guess.
Carlos Tévez 6 Worked tirelessly, as you would expect.
Pablo Zabaleta 6 Looked more assured than Koloarov.
Adam Johnson 6 Better than Wright-Phillips.
Emmanuel Adebayor 5 Bustled but to little purpose.
MoM: Joe Hart
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