Tottenham’s Son Heung-min strikes to stun Manchester City

Tottenham’s Son Heung-min strikes to stun Manchester City

Sometimes football can be familiar and reassuring. It was Manchester City with the faults on the outside; that’s what they look like when things go wrong, as they’ve done twice already against Nuno Espírito Santo’s teams, and strangely often against Spurs. Football’s finances may be in ruins and the game is sinking into a moral quagmire, but there is still some solace to be taken from teams, despite everything, remaining steadfastly on their own.

City started off with a quick pace and urgency, opening Spurs so often the game could have been over in 10 minutes. But then, failing to score, the mechanics faded and, more disturbingly, they looked extremely vulnerable on the counterattack with Lucas Moura being a constant threat. Of course, City were the more proactive side, despite the fact that there weren’t many first teams – clubs with essentially unlimited state resources should be – and of course, they will win the league. Most matches, but that’s how they lose them, with a slight waste. in front of the goal and a recklessness against the block.

The first goal may have been against the run of the game, but its sources came as no big surprise: Moura snatched a ball from Steven Bergwijn who led the charge, feeding Son Heung-min on the left who cut inside and directed a shot to the far corner. Benjamin Mendy had already seemed on borrowed time at City, but Nathan Aké could also soon join him for a one-way ticket to Lommel.

As for arrivals, on this show City could be content with a center forward, midfielder and left-back. Harry Kane, who could meet the first of those needs, was not part of the Spurs squad, but what that means is questionable. When Luka Modric was excluded from Tottenham’s first two games in 2012-13 it was a precursor to his departure for Real Madrid, but the fact that Kane was not involved doesn’t necessarily mean he’s on his way. for Manchester. He basically played his part by resuming training a week late (although he claims it was always planned) but remains at Spurs. City’s reluctance to make a formal offer anywhere near Tottenham’s assessment could be a negotiating tactic, or it could mean that they have given up on signing Kane in that window.

Spurs have insisted Kane was not selected because he was not fit enough, having only been in two training sessions since his return, but, although it may be true, it tells no such thing as the full story. All the other players who started the Euro final for England have managed at least some time on the pitch this weekend. Whatever happens, the Kane affair disrupted Spurs’ start to the season.

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The mega-signing City made Jack Grealish the sixth most expensive player of all time, faltering without ever really catching the light. It looks like a terrifying footballing chimera: the playfulness and liveliness of Paul Gascoigne, the rolled socks of Francesco Totti, the massive calves of Roberto Carlos, the bandaged left wrist of Gary Lineker at the 1986 World Cup, the hair of Cameron Diaz in There’s Something About Marie.

After leaving the Community Shield bench and operating on the left wing, he was deployed here to the left of the three midfielders, although at first he was so high he almost seemed to be playing as a second striker alongside Ferran Torres. At Villa, Grealish was the most fouled player in the Premier League (by an astonishing margin; 45% more than Wilfried Zaha, who was second, and more than twice as often as all but three of the other players). The theory was that he would struggle to maintain that level at City, where less play will likely go through him, but in terms of kicking it was a very encouraging start, fouled five times against an average of 4, 2 for game last season.

And it’s not just that Grealish is a big foul shooter; he is a great foul-taker. You don’t forget that Grealish got fouled, stumbles, tries his best to continue and then collapses, spins in the air after a pat on the ankle, grimaces and rolls, or hops dragging a recently struck calf behind him. His clashes with Fernandinho in training must be spellbinding: the great disguise of fouls against their great highlighter.

But City will need more of him and the others. For a club of their resources, the excuse that they had a lot of unavailable players arouses little sympathy. Early season setbacks are not unheard of for City, and there are mitigating factors, but what can be a problem is the familiarity of chess. For Spurs, meanwhile, there was a welcome reminder that they can play well and win big games even without Kane. The Nuno era has got off to a very encouraging start.


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