Manchester City 3-3 Tottenham: Pep Guardiola and Ange Postecoglou deliver show-stopping game

3 December 2023 0 By Total Football News

Manchester City argued long and hard with referee Simon Hooper after his whistle denied Jack Grealish a glorious chance of a late winner against Tottenham - but no one could quibble at the entertainment on show at Etihad Stadium.

Six goals, shots against post and bar, key interceptions, counter-attacks. It was brilliant stuff from two teams who showed an unstinting commitment to attack even though they are finding Premier League wins hard to come by.

"We make this sport better," said City boss Pep Guardiola after the 3-3 draw.

Opposite number Ange Postecoglou agreed: "We promised goals and we delivered.

"It was entertaining. I want to beat them but you can appreciate what a fantastic team they are."

When cynics scoff at the Premier League being called the best league in the world, they are ignoring captivating encounters like this, where two teams packed with elite players are going toe to toe, with hardly a defensive thought in their minds.

By their nature, managers want to win, on many occasions at any cost. But when the preferred outcome does not materialise, they can take pleasure in the joy they have provided to over 50,000 people in the stadium and countless millions watching worldwide.

"When both teams want to do it, football is a nice game," added Guardiola.

'Bad luck doesn't exist in football'

Son Heung-minTottenham's Son Heung-min made it 1-1 within the opening 10 minutes with a goal and then an own goal

As the dust settles, both sides still have issues to address.

City's third successive domestic draw represents the first time since the spring of 2017, at the end of Guardiola's first season in charge, they have gone such a length of time without a Premier League win.

It hardly represents a trigger for crisis talk but still, Arsenal's three-point advantage on them at the top of the table could have stretched to six by the time City face a tough assignment at fourth-placed Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Had Erling Haaland taken one of the two glorious chances that came his way in the first half, the outcome may well have been different.

Had Hooper played a meaningful advantage after Haaland was fouled in stoppage time, the same applies. Haaland had sprung to his feet and fed a pass through that could have led to Grealish bearing down on goal, but a blast of the referee's whistle meant play was pulled back.

That was unfortunate and Haaland told Hooper his feelings in no uncertain terms. Substitute Grealish had earlier struck to give City a 3-2 lead, with Phil Foden also netting for the hosts. Son Heung-min scored at both ends in the opening nine minutes, while Giovani Lo Celso also fired in for Spurs and Dejan Kulusevski snatched a 90th-minute leveller, before the stoppage-time controversy flared.

City have now conceded eight times in three games. They have only kept two clean sheets in the Premier League since the middle of August.

Guardiola is not prepared to dismiss such factors as a quirk of fate.

"I learn from Johan Cruyff that bad luck in football doesn't exist," he said.

"People say we are concerned about the chances we are conceding. We actually concede nothing but every chance we do concede is a goal, which makes it more difficult.

"Good teams are not defined by good moments. It's not the first time we have faced this situation where we are playing good but results don't come. Always we find a solution, but lately the results don't come and we are struggling."

Spurs' character shines through

It is only a week since former Manchester United skipper Roy Keane labelled Tottenham "Spursy" for their home defeat by Aston Villa when they had led.

Tottenham had already hauled themselves back level with City once on Sunday, but as the game was about to enter stoppage time they were facing up to a fourth successive loss, with all four games having seen Postecoglou's side open the scoring.

There is some mitigation for their recent slump. Including suspended central defender Cristian Romero, Tottenham were without 10 first-team players at Etihad Stadium.

They were also playing the world's best team away from home.

But they didn't let their heads drop - and they didn't give in. Kulusevski's header earned a point which said far more about the character of the Tottenham squad than the throwaway soundbites that make a good headline.

"To be fair to this group, I think they have shown that," said Postecoglou, as he considered his team's spirit. "The last three games has masked that a bit, but I don't think it has been a question of character.

"We are going through a tough period in terms of personnel, players having to play in positions they are not familiar with and me not wanting to compromise.

"But if you can get through these periods by staying true to what you are working on, you'll come out stronger irrespective of the knocks you take along the way.

"If nothing else, a day like today gives the players more belief in themselves."

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