Wednesday 18 October 2017

Spurs emerge as serious title contenders on Super Sunday

Tottenham's Dele Alli in tackled by Manchester City's Fernando on Sunday. Photo: Reuters.
Tottenham's Dele Alli in tackled by Manchester City's Fernando on Sunday. Photo: Reuters.

Joe Molloy

One of the many benefits of watching three Premier League matches back to back to back on a Sunday afternoon is that the very fresh memories of the other games tend to illuminate something about the later encounter.

And so it was with Manchester City and Spurs, the third instalment of the Super Sunday, St Valentine's Day trilogy; for it became clear that in Manchester we had the two best teams in the league.

I was struck to read Richard Williams in 'The Guardian' claim, "the football was so tippy-tappy and insipid, then the penny dropped. We were not watching Leicester, with their economy of effort and voracious appetite for making the most of every upfield excursion." He also made a point, which is essentially my point, saying "Both sides stroked the ball around breezily but neither managed to hang on to it for more than a few seconds.'" And therein lays the quality of City-Spurs, something which was perversely highlighted by Arsenal-Leicester. The game at the Etihad was on a different level in terms of its intensity and pace.

Why does Richard Williams suspect these very brilliant technical players struggled to 'hang on to it for more than a few seconds'. It was because they were under phenomenal pressure.

A case in point about 15 minutes into the game saw Dele Alli take up a great position between the lines, a really clever pass was fizzed to his feet, he took a good touch on the turn and suddenly Fernando slid in to take the ball away.

A nothing moment in many ways, but actually it was brilliant play all round. It was no wonder the game became stretched towards the end. Contrast this with the Emirates. Leicester sat back admirably and were well organised, but it is a very limited game plan.

Arsenal had endless time to stroke the ball around at a pace utterly lagging behind events in Manchester, the only threat to their dominance being a counter-attack. Given their league positions, suddenly Spurs look like legitimate favourites.

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