The Warmdown: Manchester City drop points at home to Tottenham Hotspur
Harry Kane wheels away in celebration (2022 AMA Sports Photo Agency)

Manchester City suffered their first home league defeat since October 2021 at the hands of Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur with a pulsating affair at the Etihad.  

Spurs went a goal up inside four minutes through Juventus loanee Dejan Kulusevski after Harry Kane’s defence-splitting pass broke City’s often well-orchestrated high-line. 

The score didn’t remain 1-0 for long though, as the Swede’s goal sparked a Manchester City fightback, with Ilkay Gundogan finding the leveller on 33 minutes.

After a bright start to the second-half, Conte’s side cashed in on their missed opportunities, with the man Pep Guardiola and his coaching staff chased all last summer putting Spurs back in front. Harry Kane’s volley into the back of Ederson’s net left the goalkeeper standing. 

Late drama deep into stoppage time saw twists for both sides, with Riyad Mahrez’s 92nd-minute penalty seeing Spurs pegged back again. 

But it was that man Kane who had the last laugh, sending the Tottenham fans behind the goal into mayhem after a 95th-minute header.

Harry Kane may just be what Manchester City are missing

For large portions of this season and parts of last season, Pep Guardiola’s side have opted with a ‘false nine’, with Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and even record signing Jack Grealish playing the deeper attacking role. 

In Saturday’s contest, Kane showed the City boss exactly what he was missing, with the Spurs No.10 showing how he is more than just a traditional striker.

The 28-year-old’s deep movement caused Ruben Dias and Kyle Walker a handful of problems with both defenders at times getting dragged deep into positions a defender does not want to find themselves in.

Kane’s fantastic movement allowed for forward runs from fellow teammates Heung-Min Son and Kulusevski, with the tactic creating several chances all evening, even leading to a goal in the first-half.

It wasn’t just dropping deep that the striker excels in though, with the Englishman’s second and third goal coming through poacher’s instinct in and around the six-yard box.

Constantly, City launched crosses into the opposition box, with the hosts managing 42 crosses in the entirety of the game, however, they lacked a physical presence in the area. 

Whether Guardiola’s side may have scored another goal had things panned out the way the 51-year-old had wanted in the summer is unknown, but a striker may possibly just have gone up on the summer wish list.

The title race just got a whole lot more interesting

Prior to this weekend’s fixture, nine points separated Manchester City and Liverpool in second. 

However, with the Reds coming out victorious over Norwich and City dropping points, the gap now remains six points, with Liverpool having a game in hand over the league leaders.

Jurgen Klopp’s side host Leeds United in the coming week, where a home win could make it just three points between first and second place, with the pair still having to face each other later on in the season.

With Pep Guardiola already having won three Premier League titles since his appointment in 2016, the City boss knows just what it takes to win the league.

Post-match, Guardiola said: “I said a few weeks ago we need to win many games. Every game will be a big, big battle. We knew it, and it will be good to understand how difficult it is. Since October we did not lose one game in the Premier League.”

Although the Cityzens still top the league table, it sure seems as though Guardiola and his men have had a large amount of pressure mounted onto them through a fantastic, tactical masterclass from Antonio Conte.

Kyle Walker’s defensive vulnerability

Time and again, Kyle Walker’s recovery pace often gets the right-back out of a problem he has caused himself.

However, on Saturday, the Spurs’ attacking trio’s intelligence and Antonio Conte’s offensive setup outwitted the 31-year-old, seeing him arguably at fault for two of the three goals City conceded. 

For the second, the England man was slow to get out to Son, allowing the South Korean time and space to pick out Harry Kane in the 18-yard box.

For the winner, Kane was allowed a run-in on the right-back, with a poor position allowing the England captain to head home his second of the match.

With João Cancelo usually spotless in his unnatural left-back position, moving the Portuguese international to his more usual role could come as a better option, with Oleksandr Zinchenko a very able deputy at left-back.