LONDON — Manchester Metropolis may must revise their valuation of Harry Kane in spite of everything. At first look, that will seem a knee-jerk response to Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, on condition that Pep Guardiola’s aspect strolled to the Premier League title final time period regardless of working and not using a recognised striker for a lot of the marketing campaign. But it already seems a more durable trick to drag off this time round after an early reminder of how Metropolis might be crushed by a contain-and-counter technique that Spurs are making a behavior of pulling off.
Tottenham have now crushed Metropolis of their final 4 conferences on the gorgeous Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, every time using a broadly related strategy predicated upon permitting Metropolis to dominate the ball in sure areas as a result of they don’t possess a medical striker capable of thrive in tight areas.
In fact, repeatedly Guardiola’s group overcome this with a blur of invention and motion, an usually irresistible mixture that the £100 million arrival of Jack Grealish will certainly solely increase in time after exhibiting flashes of high quality on his debut right here. But of the 2 sides on present Sunday, it was Metropolis who missed Kane extra.
That was all the way down to each the chic tempo and penetration introduced by match-winner Heung-Min Son, in tandem with Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura, but in addition an nameless exhibiting from Ferran Torres as a “false 9.” Gabriel Jesus fared little higher in a 20-minute cameo.
“Are you watching, Harry Kane?” sang the Tottenham followers — far louder than they chanted positively about their captain earlier within the recreation — and the 28-year-old was certainly doing simply that, in attendance, however not deemed prepared to participate having solely returned to coaching on Friday following England‘s run to the Euro 2020 last. Spurs coach Nuno Espirito Santo insisted Kane’s lack of match health was the one motive for his absence, nevertheless it’s laborious to flee the speculation that the uncertainty over his future was additionally an element.
Tottenham proceed to insist they won’t transfer Kane, who believes he has a gentleman’s settlement to go away the membership this summer season. Metropolis intimated they had been ready to pay round £100 million for his rights, however regardless of near-constant hypothesis over the previous few weeks, they’ve but to make a proper provide anyplace near the £150m it will take to tempt chairman Daniel Levy right into a severe dialog. Absolutely that may change within the coming days after the opening weekend of the season offered a blueprint for the remainder on methods to beat the champions.
On the eve of this recreation, Guardiola backtracked considerably after going public along with his need to signal Kane final week, which means he wasn’t about to double down afterward, nevertheless it wasn’t tough to decode his actual emotions on the finish of a weekend during which Manchester United scored 5 instances whereas Chelsea and Liverpool netted three.
“We arrived within the last third many instances, we couldn’t be medical sufficient and on the finish, one motion, we lose the sport,” he mentioned after watching Metropolis register 66 % possession and 18 photographs, however solely 4 on track.
“We’re the identical individuals [as] final season. Sergio [Aguero] is gone. Sadly final season we couldn’t use him a lot, he performed simply seven video games. Then in got here Jack [Grealish], however we’re the identical individuals who received the Premier League. We make superb issues and it’s regular. They’re a tricky rival for us, all the time I’ve the identical feeling that we’re good enjoying right here, however we can’t get outcomes as a result of they punish you within the transitions.”
Though the parallels with Tottenham’s earlier victories over Metropolis had been clear, it will be doing Nuno a disservice to not recognise there was extra to Spurs on the day. They grew into Sunday’s recreation after a nervous begin as their tactic of staying slim in midfield started to offer them a foothold. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Oliver Skipp and Dele Alli shaped a 3 behind Moura, Son and Bergwijn, successfully pushing six gamers into a good central space the width of the penalty field, forcing Metropolis to play out broad sooner than they’d ideally have favored.
Nevertheless, once they labored the ball shortly and effectively to the flanks, Metropolis had an overload with Japhet Tanganga left to battle manfully towards Grealish and Raheem Sterling as one overlapped the opposite.
Below Mourinho specifically, there was a way Spurs had been hanging on as Metropolis dominated after taking considered one of valuable few probabilities on the different finish. But on this event, Spurs may have been additional forward: Bergwijn missed a wonderful likelihood to double their lead on the hour mark on the finish of one other blistering breakaway within the mould of the one 5 minutes earlier that had given them the lead.
The sport’s solely objective was a deal with. Moura hooked the ball ahead simply outdoors his personal field to launch Bergwijn, who surged ahead at pace. Son drifted out to the fitting to obtain the ball, reduce in on his left foot and curled an excellent shot past Ederson from 20 yards. The vast majority of the 58,262 followers in attendance cranked up the noise, and though Metropolis responded effectively, there was little significant for Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to take care of apart from an 84th-minute shot from substitute Kevin De Bruyne and a stifled effort from Grealish.
Kane’s subsequent outing may nonetheless be for both of those groups, however Nuno continued to insist the striker is merely within the strategy of readying himself for Tottenham’s subsequent recreation — a visit to Portugal for a Europa Convention League qualifier towards Pacos de Ferreira. It is not precisely the European competitors Kane has his sights on, however Nuno mentioned postmatch that “Harry labored this morning, he’s getting ready himself and when he’s prepared he’ll be part of the group and assist the group.”
Guardiola may urge the Metropolis hierarchy to check that principle slightly extra after this.