Tottenham Hotspur – Manchester City: Controlling Space Beats Controlling Possession (2-0)
José Mourinho’s vintage defensive block nullified his greatest opponent and created the counterattacks that recorded his first consecutive wins over Pep Guardiola, in his career. With heavy occupation against their opponent’s eights, Tottenham Hotspur denied Manchester City from getting their creators on the ball, as glaring tactical issues were aggravated further.
Tactical analysis and match report by Joel Parker.
In the past decade, no managerial matchup has both modernized and personified football in its current form quite like José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. Even in their twenty-fourth meeting, eleven years from the first, two of football’s tactical figureheads met in peculiar circumstances.
Mourinho hasn’t significantly altered his Tottenham team from a strategic standpoint, but new additions have refined and bettered an already excellent squad. Sergio Reguilón provides more threat down the left than Ben Davies, while his midfield general Pierre-Emile Højbjerg commands, presses and is a very traditional six in a Mourinho team.
Add the dynamic relationship between Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son, who have contributed to the goal tally in almost every match so far this season, and Tottenham went into this game in second place in the standings. Though Spurs can produce stogy performances, occasionally slipping back in time when everything didn’t look promising under Mourinho, they have started the season very strongly.
Meanwhile at Manchester City, Guardiola has struggled to get the ball rolling. They have dropped to eighth in expected goals created, while they sit in fifth in expected goals conceded; though this isn’t a meteoric decline, we do not associate Guardiola with metrics being below the top. He has constantly tried to evolve his team, tightening . . .