EPL

Tottenham v Manchester City: Force is with Mourinho as Guardiola rivalry resumes

By Sports Desk November 19, 2020

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola meet in the Premier League on Saturday - going head to head for just the second time since November 2018.

Tottenham host Manchester City and will be hoping to continue their strong start to 2020-21, in which they have won five times and lost just once in eight league matches.

City are five points worse off than Spurs but have likewise suffered only one defeat, and Guardiola's record against his old LaLiga rival will give fans reason to believe they will emerge triumphant in north London.

Mourinho has certainly not always enjoyed facing Guardiola, but recent encounters – and the trends in their teams' performances this term – suggest he might just have his old foe's number...

PEP'S OUT IN FRONT...

Guardiola may once have described Mourinho as "the f****** boss" but, when it comes to this rivalry, he is the man on top.

No manager has beaten Mourinho more often (10 times) than Guardiola, with Rafael Benitez next on that list with six victories. That win total for Guardiola does not include the 2013 UEFA Super Cup, either, when Bayern Munich beat Chelsea on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

Indeed, Mourinho has won only six of 23 meetings with Guardiola and has been out-scored 37 to 27 in those matches – although only Jurgen Klopp (eight) has beaten the Catalan more often.

They first faced off when Mourinho's Inter hosted Guardiola's Barca in the Champions League group stage in September 2009, a game that finished 0-0. Mourinho would win just two of the next 13 meetings with Guardiola: a 3-1 semi-final first-leg win en route to Inter's 2009-10 Champions League triumph, and a 1-0 victory with Real Madrid in the 2011 Copa del Rey final.

 

BUT JOSE'S ON THE MARCH

Things have slowly swung more in favour of Mourinho in the past eight years.

The Portuguese has won four and lost three of their previous nine meetings (if you exclude that Super Cup match six years ago), including two of the most recent three league matches: the famous 3-2 comeback win in the Manchester derby that saw United postpone City's title celebrations two years ago, and a 2-0 victory for Spurs in February this year.

That match was billed as something of a Mourinho masterclass, but City were undeniably unfortunate. They missed a penalty, had Oleksandr Zinchenko sent off, and still out-shot their hosts 19 to six, having 41 more touches in the opposition box and 67 per cent of the possession.

Still, the 2020-21 season has seen Spurs generally playing superior football to City – and in a style that could cause them particular harm.

FROM PARKING THE BUS TO FLAT OUT

This season, Mourinho has tapped into his more adventurous side. Spurs have outscored City 19 to 10 in the league, an average of almost one goal per game more, and attempted 111 shots to City's 103. Spurs have played eight games and City seven.

While they average fewer touches in the box per game (21 compared with 29), Tottenham have created more than double the number of big chances (27 to City's 13) and converted 59 per cent compared with City's 31 per cent.

Spurs have played just four fewer passes into the opposition box than City (28) and attempted roughly the same number of crosses (74 to 75), and that's despite averaging seven per cent less of the possession.

And Mourinho's more traditional trump cards are still in play.

City have conceded a league-low 11 high turnovers this season, 19 fewer than Spurs, but high pressing is unlikely to be a go-to tactic for Mourinho's men anyway (they have registered 108 pressed sequences this term, only the seventh-highest in the division).

Instead, they are likely to find joy through more expected means: dropping deeper and springing a counter-attack from their own half.

City's style carries with it an inescapable risk of a quick counter. On average, they begin a sequence in possession 46 metres from their own goal, the highest such number this season, and only Liverpool (68) have won possession within 40 metres of the opposition goal more often than City (37).

Yet if Spurs beat the press, they can be devastating. No team has managed more direct attacks – an open-play sequence, ending in a shot or touch in the opponent's box, where at least 50 per cent of the movement has been towards that goal – than Spurs (18).

It's a tactic that has seen Harry Kane and Son Heung-min thrive. They have already directly combined for nine league goals this season, including two in that 6-1 hammering of Mourinho's old club Manchester United and four in their 5-2 victory at Southampton.

They might just unpick an uncertain City defence to give Mourinho the bragging rights.

Related items

  • Guardiola sees more Man City opportunities ahead for 'special guy' Stones Guardiola sees more Man City opportunities ahead for 'special guy' Stones

    Pep Guardiola praised "special guy" John Stones and said the defender was set for further opportunities with Manchester City.

    Stones started alongside Ruben Dias in the centre of defence as City booked their place in the Champions League last 16 with a 1-0 win over Olympiacos on Wednesday.

    The 26-year-old won all five of his duels and his three clearances were a team-high.

    While the defender has made four appearances in European competition, he has been limited to just one in the Premier League – against Wolves in September.

    But Guardiola expects Stones to get more chances for City after finding some form.

    "At the end I judge the players on what they do right now, in the present. John played with Ruben, they played well," the City manager told reporters.

    "I'm happy, especially, especially, especially, happy with John because he's a special guy for me. We arrived together here, we spend all the time together.

    "He was injured, had personal issues and now he's settled again, with his confidence and performance like last time he will have chances to show his quality in this team."

    Dias, meanwhile, has settled quickly at City after arriving from Benfica in September, making nine starts in all competitions.

    As City prepare to host Burnley on Saturday, Guardiola praised the defender's form.

    "Ruben is playing every week and every game because he doesn't make mistakes. He leads the line and does absolutely everything almost perfectly. That's why he plays," he said.

    "It doesn't depend on what he has done in the past and who you are in the past. We have to win in our position every three days. As a manager, when a guy plays good you have more chance [to play] of course.

    "There will be some players who are playing well but I will rotate the team so they don't get injured, they will be rotated. But with other issues when they are playing well they have more chance to continue on the pitch."

  • Pique wants Messi at Barcelona for years to come Pique wants Messi at Barcelona for years to come

    Gerard Pique hopes Barcelona can convince Lionel Messi to stay at the club for years to come.

    Messi, 33, sensationally requested to leave the LaLiga giants during the close season, but ended up staying at the club.

    However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is linked with the likes of Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

    But Pique hopes Messi will remain at Barca, where he has spent his entire professional career.

    "We will have to ask Leo. It is his personal decision … and we will see what happens," the defender told Radio Marca on Friday.

    "I believe that as long as he continues to wear the Barca shirt there is always hope.

    "We hope they can seduce him so that he stays more years."

    Messi has struggled to live up to his usual form so far this season, scoring six goals in 11 games – including three in eight in LaLiga.

    He is without an assist in LaLiga, while he has created just 2.1 chances per 90 minutes – his lowest since 2012-13 (1.6). His 0.4 big chances created per 90 minutes is also the lowest since that campaign.

    It comes with Barcelona struggling in 13th in the table and awaiting a presidential election next year.

    Pique, who suffered a knee injury earlier this month, said he had previously thought about one day becoming the club's president.

    "If I see that I can contribute things that can help the club then I will decide," he said.

    "It is an illusion that I have always had, but I don't know if it will come true."

  • Klopp hopeful over Wijnaldum stay at Liverpool Klopp hopeful over Wijnaldum stay at Liverpool

    Jurgen Klopp hopes Georginio Wijnaldum extends his stay at Liverpool and the manager remains optimistic.

    Wijnaldum is out of contract with the Premier League champions at the end of the season and the midfielder has been linked with a move to Barcelona.

    Ahead of Saturday's trip to Brighton and Hove Albion, Klopp had no update on the Netherlands international – but he would like the 30-year-old to remain at Anfield.

    "I cannot really say a lot about that. I would be happy if he would stay here – that's maybe the only thing," he said.

    "But sitting here, I'm pretty happy with Gini. You see when you look at most of the line-ups."

    Wijnaldum arrived at Liverpool from Newcastle United in 2016 and has helped the club win the Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

    Since 2016-17, Wijnaldum has missed just 11 Premier League games for Liverpool. They have won five, drawn four and lost two, a win percentage of 45.5, compared to 70.7 in the 150 games he has played.

    They have also averaged more goals for (2.2 to 1.8), fewer goals against (0.9 to 1.3), more points per game (2.3 to 1.7) with Wijnaldum during that time.

    Asked if Wijnaldum was in his best form since joining Liverpool, Klopp praised the midfielder's consistency.

    "That might be only because your memories are not that good. He played always good. That's why he played that amount of games," he said.

    "I cannot remember a lot of bad games, to be honest. He played for us in plenty of positions, different positions. He's in a good moment, thank God. Long may it continue. That's it.

    "It's good and there's nothing else to say about it, to be honest. As long as nothing is decided, everything is possible and I'm positive."

    Liverpool are second in the Premier League table ahead of their trip to Brighton.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.