Verdict: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Manchester City 5
Goals: Kaboul 67 for Tottenham. Dzeko 34, 40, 54, 93 Aguero 60 for City.
A four goal haul from Edin Dzeko helped City overwhelm Tottenham in an excellent free-flowing game. Samir Nasri had a dream debut with three assists and showed how instrumental he can be in Roberto Mancini’s team.
With Dzeko as the focal point Nasri, Silva and Aguero displayed the fluidity and interchanging which Mancini looks for in his attacking play. Clichy is perfectly suited to providing the width on the left, while Zabaleta got the nod to do the same on the right.
Clichy to combat the pace of Lennon was a predictable selection change. The dropping of Richards and Milner was more surprising. However Nasri’s performance showed how quality players can be dropped in at the deep end, particularly if they’re already experienced in the pace of the Premier League.
Zabaleta did a good job keeping Bale quiet, not allowing him to get into his stride. Lescott proves his worth against tall strikers and the threat from Crouch was nullified.
This isn’t to say Spurs didn’t have chances. They remain a fluent attacking side, and Joe Hart seems to save his best form for White Hart Lane.
The key moment came when Crouch headed a beautiful Bale cross inches wide. Moments later City broke and Dzeko managed to control a much more difficult header, placing it in the corner of the net.
Mancini’s sides rarely squander two goal leads and there was the feeling that too many of the Spurs players knew this. Prior to that City had taken the lead courtesy of Nasri supplying his first assist, following a nicely worked one-two with Aguero.
While Dzeko rightly took the headlines and pundits heaped praise on the attacking trio behind him, perhaps the most pleasing part of the performance was how little we missed Nigel de Jong in a difficult away game.
Both Gareth Barry and Yaya are looking sharper than at any time in their City careers. Several times Barry was quick to come across and help out on the flanks. In the past he hasn’t always got there in time.
This was crucial with our attacking width being supplied by the full-backs, as Nasri and Silva move inside. Ensuring cover for the full-backs was key for Mancini, and made Clichy a lot more effective than when he was given insufficient protection at Arsenal.
Yaya looks a lot fitter this season and played the deeper role superbly. Whereas last season he appeared sluggish in the role and we were overran, here he patrolled effectively.
The Ivorian completed more passes than any other player in a Premier League match so far this season. These would often instigate our attacking movements as Yaya demonstrated his Barca experience by finding the angles that create space for others.
With his new attacking riches, Mancini is letting the side attack more quickly. In training they’ve been working on counter-attacks and this was most evident in the second goal.
Last year there was an emphasis on retaining possession and the patient build-up. Maybe English footballing culture is penetrating our Italian manager’s psyche as against both Bolton and Spurs the games were frequently end-to-end with the play getting stretched.
Only when we’d settled into a 4-1 lead and Van der Vaart’s departure had left Spurs a man short, did City content themselves with playing out time through retaining possession.
Overall this was a superb display from a team full of confidence. The new signings are slotting in and Mancini deserves huge credit for harnessing the individual talents into an even more impressive whole.
Following the international break, the team start playing twice a week and those on the bench will get their chance. If Mancini can keep them playing like this, then the sky’s the limit.