Shambolic defensive display sees Blues lose top spot
FA Premier League
Saturday 26 September 2015, 12.45 KO
City: Caballero, Sagna, Otamendi, Demichelis, Kolarov , Fernando, Fernandinho (Nasri 69), Toure (Navas 56), Sterling, De Bruyne, Aguero (Roberts 86)
Unused: Hart, Evans, Zabaleta, Barker
Goals: De Bruyne (25)
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the match: De Bruyne
City suffered their worst defeat for seven years, after a second half capitulation saw them comfortably beaten by a resurgent Tottenham Hotspur. Manager Manuel Pellegrini can point to some poor officiating and bad luck with injuriest, but in truth the Blues were second best in every department, and Spurs were worthy winners. This was City's third defeat in four games, and Pellegrini will be concerned that their early season momentum has stalled so alarmingly.
Joe Hart was surprisingly omitted from the starting XI, as Pellegrini felt he hadn't recovered sufficiently from the knock that kept him out of the midweek League Cup win at Sunderland, so Willy Caballero retained his place. It was an afternoon to forget for the Argentinian goalkeeper. City's injury problems were further exacerbated when Vincent Kompany was forced to withdraw from the bench prior to kick off, whilst Yaya Toure was substituted in the second half after suffering a hamstring problem. Both are now major doubts for Wednesday's crucial Champions League tie at Borussia Monchengladbach. City currently have nine first team players out, in what has been a wretched start to the season in terms of injuries.
City started brightly here, and increasingly imposed themselves on the game as the first half progressed. Kevin De Bruyne gave the Blues a deserved lead after 25 minutes, latching on to Yaya Tou're through ball before finishing calmly past Hugo Lloris. There was a suspicion of offside, but it was a marginal decision and De Bruyne was given the benefit of the doubt. It was the Belgian's third goal in as many games, in what has been an exceptional start to his City career. Raheem Sterling almost doubled City's advantage shortly after, but Lloris saved well at his near post.
The Blues appeared to be cruising as half-time approached, but were undone just before the break after the linesman inexplicably failed to flag Kyle Walker, despite the Spurs fullback being a good two yards offside. City still had ample opportunities to clear the ball before it fell to Eric Dier, who smashed it in off a post from twenty yards out. Aleksandar Kolarov and Martin Demichelis argued vehemently with the match officials after Mark Clattenburg blew for half time, with the latter earning a yellow card for his troubles.
City appeared rattled, and Spurs took the lead just four minutes into the second half. Caballero naively came for a cross that he had little chance of reaching, and was stranded off his line allowing Toby Alderweireld to score with a simple header. It was a poor error of judgement from City's stand-in keeper, and worse was to come for the Blues. Demichelis was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch after bringing down Erik Lamela, but City were punished from the resulting free kick. Christian Eriksen hit the bar with a fine effort, but Harry Kane was on hand to score the rebound. The Spurs striker was in an offside position but the linesman again failed to flag.
Lamela compounded a miserable afternoon for Pellegrini's side ten minutes from time, when he rounded Caballero easily to make it four with City's defence in disarray. Kompany's continued absence has been felt more keenly than ever, and Pellegrini will be hoping to have his captain available again sooner rather than later to halt the slump in form. Failure to win in Germany on Wednesday will see the pressure increase on City's beleagured boss.