It was one those nights when nothing went favour of Pep Guardiola’s men. Manchester Chad the upper hand most of the time against Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur, but in the end, the scoreline showed something else. The Spurs won the game by 2-0. Another Mourinho vs Pep clash and on that night, Mourinho had the last laugh leaving the fans saying that none can beat Pepe in style than Jose.

It was obviously a fortuitous victory. Had Ilkay Gundpgan converted his penalty in the first-half or what was virtually an open goal in the second or only if Kun Aguero capitalized on one of the tow big opportunities, Mourinho would not have had the last laugh.

But that is Mourinho – he watches the show and waits for the opportunity to exploit. Either his team would be sluggish or exhibit resilience – but when he would spot the slightest amount of loopholes in the opposition, he would cash in – it is like the “smash-and-grab” job.

In the first half, City had 11 efforts on goal to Spurs’ none and by the full time it was 3 to 18 in favour of Manchester City. Steven Bergwijn’s first effort on goal fetched results while Heung-Min Son’s effort, which took a nick off Fernandinho as it zipped beyond Ederson. For the second time City’s domination against the Spurs failed to bag full points. In the two Premier League meetings between the teams, Spurs netted 4 in six attempts compared to City’s 58.

Despite such a dominating why City failed to bag full points remain a moot question. Luck was definitely a factor, but one needs some tactical shrewdness to exploit luck.

Mourinho did not bother about the fall in the percentage of ball possession but focused on the counterattack and for which he designed his team the way he did while being the manager at Chelsea and Real Madrid.

Two pivots – Harry Wink and Giovani Lo Celso impressed tremendously with the former’s burst forward triggering the red card of Oleksandr Zinchenko. Tanguy Nodombele was provided with the role to provide the steam in the final third. Bergwijn – featured in the match five days after arriving from PSV – was occupied on the flanks along with Son on the opposite with Lucas Moura in the middle.

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These three are capable of dribbling the hell out opposition defenders and create width, which is essential during the counter. And playing them in such positions worked well – the absence of Christian Eriksen was slightly felt, but not fully.

Mourinho’s Spurs is different from Pochettino – this Spurs is building up as a counterattacking unit which would show patience and grit defensively and when spaces would be available, they would deliver a telling blow.


It is just the beginning of Mourinho’s new tactical shift at Spurs – perhaps the best is yet to come.

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