A title race that seemed over, a team that remained stuck in a limbo and a season that needed some added excitement were all left changed by the Tottenham Manchester City game. By far the best game of the season, in both the Perm and arguably the world, it demanded the attention of all. Not only was this the best game of the season, but it showed why the Prem is the best show of Earth.
In a weekend featuring the NBA All-Star game, it was an impressive feat for the Spurs City to overshadow the high octane excitement of the All-Star weekend. It both overshadowed the festivities and proved to viewers why the Premier League remains as the most entertaining show in sports.
With the title race looking over, and Tottenham being relatively unthreatening, it made sense for many to skip this game. No one was to be blamed for wanting to skip what on paper seemed to be a meaningless match for some of the weekend’s more exciting features in other leagues. After all, it has felt for a while that the Prem was merely limping towards its end with much seemingly decided.
Going into the game, not many expected it to be as competitive as previous iterations of the matchup. Manchester City have been looking like an unstoppable machine these past few months, scoring at will and conceding very little. While Tottenham have yet to rebound under Antonio Conte, struggling to find the identity that Conte has always implemented in his sides.
A mixture of disinterest and low stakes turned out to be the perfect atmosphere for this game, as it rewarded fans with a masterpiece. The game of the season proves that there is very little that other sports leagues can do to match the Prem’s entertainment value.
Both teams came into the match with totally different fortunes, looking like each belonged in different stratospheres. City looking like world beaters and tearing sides apart with precision while Spurs have yet to recover from the mess that was Nuno Espírito Santo’s tenure.
Since their defeat to PSG last year, Pep’s side has been out for blood, reaching a level of play that they haven’t displayed in the past. In the 8 games before this one, City have been scoring on average 2.875 goals per game and have failed to win just once. Just four days before this game, City had just put five past a decent Sporting Lisbon side with Bernardo Silva looking incredibly.
City’s ability to score at will has been something remarkable to watch, as this goal scoring by committee approach has seen the most unlikeliest of goal scorers. However, this lack of a true goal scorer has hurt them, especially in that loss to PSG where they lack a player who can just go get a goal. It does feel as if City’s chances in any competition come down to will the scoring remain consistent.
On the other hand, Tottenham has been a mess since the new year with only two wins in the Prem and the team leaking goals. Conte’s tenure had started out strong, but has since slowed down to a halt with the team struggling to fit his schemes. There have been signs that the Tottenham side that Conte had briefly reinvigorated is still there, but those signs have been few and far between.
Tottenham’s biggest issues have been on the defensive side, as the team has yet to get another clean sheet since the first of January. None of the defensive parings have really yielded anything of note, as Conte has moved players around. The positive aspects, of late, have been the individual player performances and Conte’s ability to integrate new signings.
Two teams with dramatically different backgrounds would meet in Manchester for a relatively low stakes game. However, the underlying implications that would appear after the game were there, just under the surface.
On a dim Saturday, the game would kickoff in Manchester with City making only two changes from their match on Tuesday, as Ilkay Gündogan and Kyle Walker got the starts. Tottenham had more changes with Dejan Kulusevski, Eric Dier, Emerson and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg all starting.
Less than five minutes into the game Tottenham would get the lead with Harry Kane lasering a pass to a running Heung-min Son, pulling all City defenders to him, giving Kulusevski an open net. The two sides would continue to exchange blows until Hugo Lloris spilled a save into a running Gündogan, tying the game. The teams would go into the half all tied up with Tottenham feeling unlucky to have conceded.
A beautiful chip into the box from Son to an open Kane who would perfectly volley the ball into the top right corner, giving the Spurs the lead. The game would grind to a stalemate until the 90th minute when a handball from Cristian Romero gave City a penalty which Riyad Mahrez converted to tie it. Then, in the dying minutes of the game, Kulusevski sent in a cross which Kane would bury, giving Spurs a much needed win.
What an ending to a great game, a last minute winner was exactly the ending that the game deserved. This incredible experience was the highlight of a, so far, middling season and should revive a dead title race.
Great goals and elite performances highlighted this game, but this game has deep ramifications for both teams and the league in general. While the loss shouldn’t ring any alarm bells for City, the league title is now completely open with Liverpool only six points behind and a game back. For Tottenham, this is a good sign for the team, as they look to bounce back from a rough January.
Harry Kane proved that he still belongs among the world’s elite strikers with a performance that combined elite finishing with great playmaking. He was without a doubt the man of the match and this should, hopefully, kickstart his season. The eternal Spurs captain has further cemented himself as one of the greatest players that the Prem has seen.
The most exciting game of the seasons proved that there is no other show on Earth like the Premier League where a low stakes game can become a must watch event. From the last minute winner to Kane’s revival, there were storylines everywhere and drew the eyes of fans everywhere. In a span of 90 minutes, the title race went from being over to open, proving the excitement of the Prem once more.
A game that seemingly mattered little went on to be the game of the season with tense moments and captivating performances like any good thriller. Both teams came into the game with totally different backgrounds and each left the game feeling different about their season. This is the Prem, this is the best show in sports.
Featured Image: AP