As Manchester City and Tottenham prepare to do battle, Iain Macintosh looks at some classic clashes from the last 20 years.
2014 - Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Manchester City
Slap downs don’t get much more emphatic than this. Manchester City arrived in North London on a ridiculous run of form having gone 19 games without defeat, winning 17 of them. But Tottenham weren’t too shabby under new bantersaurus-in-chief Tim Sherwood either. They had won five of his first six league games, clearing the gloom of the ill-fated Andre Villas-Boas era.
These were the powerhouses of the formbook and when two tribes go to war, one is supposed to be all that you can score. City scored five. And could easily have scored more. Poor Sherwood.
Not only did everything go wrong on the pitch, but he carried that form to the post match press conference too. “They are the best team on the planet,” he told journalists later. City went on to lose four of their next eight games.
2013 - Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Manchester City
A season in a game. City’s performance summed up their title defence. Spurs’ fightback was a glimpse of the powers they used too sparingly. Neither team would get what they wanted that season and neither manager would last much longer.
Roberto Mancini’s side took the lead through Samir Nasri and grimly clung onto it against a lethargic Spurs who seemed to have accepted that their Champions League push had failed. Then, as they had done on numerous occasions that season, Villas-Boas’ men sprang into life. Three goals in seven minutes from Clint Dempsey, Jermain Defoe and, of course, Gareth Bale, snuffed out whatever remained of City’s title ambitions. It mattered not.
Wigan Athletic were waiting in the wings to trip both teams up. They held Spurs to a draw and cost them a place in the Champions League, then they beat City in the FA Cup Final and cost Mancini his job.
2010 - Manchester City 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester City’s owners did not spend gazillions of pounds to mess around in the Europa League and their frustrations began to show in the 2009/10 season. Mark Hughes was sacked in December when an interminable string of draws banjaxed a promising start and Mancini was parachuted in to secure Champions League football.
But Tottenham had ambitions of their own, not to mention almost 20% of the 2014 European champions’ starting line-up. When Peter Crouch headed past on-loan stopper Martin Fulop with eight minutes to go, Spurs were on their way to the big time. For a very short period. City would have to wait another year to be repeatedly stiffed by UEFA’s coefficients.
The one hidden casualty of the night was David Bentley, whose decision to drench manager Harry Redknapp after the game would prove costly. Redknapp was genuinely furious. Bentley barely played for Spurs again.
READ: Manchester City v Tottenham: Jonathan Wilson's Tactical Preview
2004 - Tottenham Hotspur 3-4 Manchester City
There were only two teams of this era that you could imagine blowing a three goal lead at home to ten men and they were both on the pitch here. Having drawn their first FA Cup tie 1-1 at Maine Road, Spurs and City met again at White Hart Lane for the replay and everything went for the hosts. Briefly.
Ledley King scored inside two minutes, Robbie Keane added another and shortly before the break, Christian Ziege smashed home a free-kick. As an added bonus, Joey Barton managed to get himself sent off for dissent after the half-time whistle. City should have been done, but this was the City of Kevin Keegan: illogical and unpredictable. Goals from Sylvain Distin and Paul Bosvelt brought them back into it, Shaun Wright-Phillips equalised with 10 minutes left and then, in the dying moments, Jon Macken won the game. Bonkers.
1994 - Manchester City 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Imagine the scenes when the first Tottenham teamsheet of the 1994/95 season landed. Teddy Sheringham, Jurgen Klinsmann, Nicky Barmby, Darren Anderton and Ilie Dumitrescu all in the same line-up? What on earth was Ossie Ardiles playing at? He wasn’t going to play five up front, was he? He bloody was. And for a very short time, it worked.
Spurs won three of their first four games and, in an era when anyone could make a title challenge, the fans dared to dream. By the time this fixture rolled around, the dream had turned into a nightmare. The drawback to playing five forwards was…well…obvious. City’s forwards scampered into space with gay abandon. Paul Walsh hit a brace. Tottenham crumbled and Ardiles was sacked at the end of the month.
Oh, Ossie. Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did.
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