Tottenham 4 Manchester City 1: How Man City might have beaten Spurs at the weekend

ANALYSIS: We've teamed up with Sports Interactive, the makers of Football Manager, to re-run one of the weekend's key games to see how the losers might have prevailed had they done things differently

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Manchester City slipped to a shock 4-1 defeat at the weekend to Tottenham. Whilst a win for Spurs wasn't out of place in this unpredictable season, the manner of the result certainly caught many unaware. So how might have things turned out differently for the early pace-setters?


With Tottenham's formation remaining the same, Sports Interactive simulated the game over again with various Manchester City line-ups and tactics until it produced an alternative result.

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Line-up: Hart, Sagna, Demichelis, Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernando, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Toure, Sterling, Aguero (one change from Saturday’s line-up, Tottenham remain unchanged)

Final Score: Tottenham 1-2 Man City (Scorers: Kane; Aguero, Toure)

In this simulation, Manuel Pellegrini’s side are able to overturn the disappointing real world result with a resilient display against a strong Spurs outfit. Joe Hart proves to be the difference maker for Manuel Pellegrini’s side in this virtual replay of Saturday lunchtime’s clash as England’s number one pulls of a number of fine saves.

Hart comes in for Caballero, who received criticism for his performance on Saturday, and is called into action almost immediately as he turns a speculative effort from Son Heung-Min over the bar. It’s the first save of what turns out to be a busy afternoon for Hart. He makes a total of nine saves over the course of the ninety minutes and gets a match rating of 8.4 – enough to earn him the Man of the Match award. Hart’s finest save comes on the stroke of the hour mark as he denies Harry Kane a would-be equaliser from eight yards out.

City’s back four is also much improved compared to their real-life performance. Demichelis and Otamendi work well together, restricting Tottenham’s chances for long periods of the match. The last twenty minutes see Demichelis tire and the game open up for Spurs. During this spell, Demichelis makes just one successful tackle and Hart makes four of his nine saves. City are also unable to create chances at the other end as Fernando and Fernandinho drop deeper to provide cover for the defence.


Before the last twenty minutes, City are rampant. The attacking midfield trio of De Bruyne, Toure and Sterling cause repeated headaches for the Tottenham defence. Between the three of them they combine to create all four of City’s clear cut chances and De Bruyne notably completes five successful dribbles past Davies. One such dribble leads to City’s opener as the Belgian international cuts past Davies and drills the ball across the penalty area for Aguero to tap in from inside ten yards.

City’s second is another well worked goal. The ball is weaved between Fernandinho, Sterling and Aguero before the Argentine lays it off on the edge of the area for the onrushing Yaya Toure. Toure elects to place the ball and finds the bottom corner with a curled effort.

At 2-0, much of the energy from the game disappears and it appears as though City were going to close out a relatively straightforward victory. That is before Demichelis’ aforementioned fatigue in the latter stages of the match. Harry Kane, who had seen two of his efforts on target saved by Hart, is on hand to punish a Demichelis mistake. When the City centre-back plays a poor pass to Fernando, Kane is on hand to intercept and he dribbles the ball past the desperate Demichelis before finally getting the better of Hart.


On another day, Spurs may well have grabbed an equaliser but with Joe Hart in inspired form they are forced to concede defeat. They put in a spirited performance against what is arguably the strongest squad in the Premier League but City’s devastating attacking prowess proves to be too much for Mauricio Pochettino’s men.