Sports Will Tottenham emulate Liverpool’s success over Manchester City?

Will Tottenham emulate Liverpool’s success over Manchester City when they host Pep Guardiola’s side on Saturday? We check the stats…

City have now lost half of their previous 10 games in all competitions – including two defeats in the Premier League.

That’s some derailment from their Invincible-chasing league status three months ago – which ended with a 4-3 defeat to Liverpool in January.


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While defeats to Wigan in the EFL Cup and Basel in Europe could have been blamed on disrupted selections, their three successive defeats to date can not.

Liverpool blasted City aside to progress into the Champions League semi-finals with a 3-0 home win and 2-1 victory at the Etihad – either side of Manchester United delaying City’s Premier League coronation party last week.


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So it would appear to be a good time for Mauricio Pochettino’s side to host the league leaders, having suffered a 4-1 defeat during the reverse fixture in December, during City’s run of 18 consecutive wins.

But, besides City’s dip in form, what can the Argentine learn from Jurgen Klopp, the first manager to beat a Pep Guardiola side three times in one season? We check the stats…

Across the two Champions League legs, Liverpool outnumbered City in several key stats. Klopp’s side managed eight shots on target – considerably more than City’s three, which all came during the second leg.

Both of those stats are somewhat surprising, given that, in the Premier League, City have faced the fewest shots on target – and, at the other end, achieved the most on goal.

On average, City’s opponents have had to hit three shots on target before scoring, but have typically been restricted to just 2.3 – scoring a league-low 0.8 goals per game.

Man City PL stats and league rank
Shots on target faced 74 #1
Shots on target 228 #1
Goals conceded 24 #1
Goals scored 90 #1
In addition to bucking the trend and hitting the target, the Reds mustered three fast breaks, all at Anfield – one of which resulted in a Mohamed Salah goal – compared with City’s single effort across the two ties.

Klopp’s side also recorded superior numbers defensively for clearances, interceptions and tackles – as the graphic below shows.

Unsurprisingly, City dominated possession and passing stats, in addition to creating more chances and attempting more shots – but struggled to hit the target.

Both managers have primarily used a 4-3-3 formation this season but, during the first leg, Guardiola twisted with 4-2-3-1, while Klopp stuck to his default attacking setup, fronted by Salah – who was forced off early in the second half through injury – Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

The graphic below shows both teams’ average positions and overall activity during that game and reveals Liverpool’s bold approach.

City’s attackers were uncharacteristically conservative, with Leroy Sane (No 19) being the most advanced City player and contributing to hotspots of activity down the left channel – pegging back Dejan Lovren (No 6).

Four Liverpool players averaged in City’s half, of which Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s (No 21) primary area produced the greatest concentration of Liverpool’s activity, on the right-side of the halfway line.

Andy Robertson (No 26) helped produce concentrations of activity down the left flank, passing to James Milner (No 7) nine times and finding Sadio Mane (No 19) on eight occasions – exposing the forward-thinking, and former Spurs right-back, Kyle Walker (No 2).

City’s goals have typically come during periods of notable passing peaks – working the ball across the pitch, waiting for runners, and probing opposition defences.

Liverpool managed to quell these with interceptions and tackles – primarily made by Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Milner.

The graphic below shows the number of passes made by both teams during three-minute intervals throughout both legs and highlights when goals were scored.

During the first leg, the graphic clearly shows how City regained dominance in the second half – with the exception of a brief period midway through the half.

Most interestingly, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the graphic also reveals Liverpool’s goals came during periods when they passed most – which affirms the importance to claim periods of meaningful possession.

Liverpool managed an average of 33 per cent possession against City across the two legs, which is actually five per cent more than the average team to face City in the Premier League this term.

Spurs have proved they can match City for dominance on the ball – having restricted City to a season-low 53 per cent in December – as the graphic below shows.

In the Premier League, City have averaged 64.6 per cent possession in defeat, 70.2 per cent during draws and 72.4 per cent in victory – confirming Guardiola’s side are, indeed, more successful with the ball.

Like Klopp, Pochettino may look to exploit the left channel, exposing Walker via his former team-mate Danny Rose, while Heung-Min Son could provide a similar pacy option to Mane.

Liverpool rocked City for pace but Spurs have ample resource to do the same – having produced more fast breaks than any other club in the Premier League this season with 24, primarily from Alli and Son (seven each).

Defensively, Spurs have been superior to Liverpool this season – conceding only 27 goals compared with the Reds’ 35 – and the rearguard will need to assert that solidarity to avoid a repeat of the heavy defeat to City earlier this season.

In addition, defensive midfielders Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele are capable of matching the guile displayed by Milner and Henderson earlier this month.

Spurs changed from their usual 4-2-3-1 against City in December
In terms of attacking danger, Tottenham have scored 64 league goals this season – behind only City (90) and Liverpool (75) – and have an abundance of creativity and firepower to carve chances and hit the target.

However, Spurs only managed two shots on target during the 4-1 defeat in December and will need the likes of Kane, Son and Alli to hit the target if they are to condemn City to a fourth consecutive defeat.

Watch Tottenham v Manchester City live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm on Saturday

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