There’s not really a polite way to describe Tottenham Hotspur’s performances against the Premier League’s top four last season, so here’s a few impolite ways.
Spineless, slipshod, shambolic, shameful…and these are just the appropriate words beginning with s.
Spurs lost seven of eight games, with a total scoreline of 27-2, and managed to concede 11 in just two outings against Manchester City.
All of this does not point to a happy trip to the Etihad this weekend, especially as little seemed to have changed under new manager Mauricio Pochettino when Spurs lost 3-0 at home to Liverpool earlier in the campaign.
However, there are some reasons for Lilywhites fans to be hopeful, and it’s not only the most masochistic of punters who should take on the visitors’ odds of 25/4 to win at the Etihad.
Over the past couple of matches Pochettino seems to have decided that he has to sort out Spurs’ awful defence before attempting to transform them into a glamorous attacking unit.
The results have been promising. The Lilywhites located some pride and were unlucky to concede at all as they drew 1-1 away at local rivals Arsenal, before ending Southampton’s run of six straight wins by beating the Saints 1-0 at White Hart Lane.
Etienne Capoue patrols in front of a organised back four, with the Frenchman racking up 3.3 interceptions per game in the league so far – the joint-eighth best tally.
Pochettino has been happy to defend deep and aim to hit opponents on the counter, with his front four talented enough to take advantage of sides pressing too high up the pitch against Spurs.
This has already proved a successful tactic against Man City at the Etihad three times this season.
Stoke plundered three points from the champions via a hard-fought 1-0 victory, while Chelsea and Roma came away with a point apiece largely by playing on the counter.
In total, City have won just two of their five home games this term, against Liverpool and Sheffield Wednesday, suggesting their Manchester fortress is not quite as impregnable as it once was.
If Spurs concede the first goal, as they did in each of their seven losses against the big four last term, they will find it hard to come back.
But if they get ahead, as they did in their draws against Arsenal this year and Chelsea last, the Lilywhites might be able to grab a result, making the draw/away win double chance another decent option at 31/2.