Tottenham hero Harry Kane and three stars that did Antonio Conte proud in Man City victory
Tottenham knew that facing Manchester City without their passionate head coach Antonio Conte on the sidelines would be a difficult task, but the Italian’s absence seem to give the north London side an extra injection of motivation as the 10 men battled to a 1-0 victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. With Conte still in Italy and unable to attend the match, his players fought hard to bring home a vital win to boost their hopes of finishing in the top four.
Before the game, assistant coach Cristian Stellini was placed in temporary charge after leading training in the build-up to the game on Sunday and the Italian spoke about the players’ necessity to step up to the plate with the 53-year-old sidelined.
“He is well, he is recovering at home. We are sad because he is not with us so he will watching the game at home,” Stellini said. “He was involved up until this morning. We do not have a special communication so me and Ryan (Mason, first team coach) and all the staff are in charge. There is extra responsibility (in Conte’s absence). Every player together with me and Ryan has to take extra responsibility.”
Express Sport looks at which players impressed the most after Spurs took home all three points against Pep Guardiola’s Man City.
The key to keeping Kane at Tottenham was Daniel Levy showing the club had ambitions to win trophies, and eventually he hired Conte, a born winner, to help them reach their goals. But without Kane, Conte might never have the chance.
When he is involved in that deep-lying centre forward role, he makes chances for others. When he is positioned in the No 9 slot, waiting for a chance to pounce on, he rarely misses his mark. And just when Spurs needed him to take his opportunity, the 29-year-old did not waver.
It was not the cleanest of strikes, but sometimes the most difficult shots to save are the mis-hits. As he hit the ball first time, he clumped a huge piece of the turf and the spin took it over Ederson’s hand into the corner. There was a time where Spurs feared Kane would be moving to City – and on the day where he became Tottenham’s all-time record goalscorer, they will be chuffed that he didn’t.
Has Erling Haaland ever had a more quiet game since joining City? For a striker with 25 goals in the Premier League this season already, many defenders would have been fearful of being embarrassed by the 22-year-old, but Dier put in a sturdy display at the back.
The Norwegian may have been ignored the large majority of his runs but when he did get it, Haaland was given a real physical battle by Dier, with the England international making life as difficult as possible.
There is a reason why Dier is trusted at the back in the centre of the back three under Conte – his physicality and aggression make it difficult for strikers to get space – and it proved to be the case at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
To think the Dane cost Spurs only £3m and Kyle Walker-Peters two years ago is frankly ridiculous. If there is a player who devotes more commitment and energy to his team’s cause, he is yet to make himself known.
This was a vintage Hojbjerg performance, battling hard in the tackle and driving forward with the ball from deep positions. His role in Kane’s opener should be understated either, staying high up the pitch and committing to the press to force City to lose possession.
He had the vision to slide in Kane to score. And once they had the lead, the midfielder was determined to cling on with all of his might. Even if he is not the club captain, Hojbjerg led by example and can be considered a key figure in Conte’s side – and the Italian will be delighted with how he performed while he recovers.
There were already signs to show the South Korean forward was nearing the end of his barren run of one goal in 13 games when he struck a magnificent curler against Preston in the FA Cup.
But there is more to Son’s game than just goals and assisting Kane. The 30-year-old works tirelessly off the ball and when he gets it in deep areas, no player can carry the ball forward quite like him. At one point in the first half, he took the ball some 60 yards at full flight before running out of space.
The forward is not quite as influential as he was last season when he contributed 23 goals to tie for the Golden Boot, but his efforts were recognised when he made way late on by the crowd, who collectively know it won’t be long until Son is back in form.
Published at Sun, 05 Feb 2023 18:25:00 +0000