Football Features

“A moving brick wall at the back” – Player Ratings as Spurs and Son stun Man City for the fourth year in a row

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 18:54, 15 August 2021 | Updated: 18:38, 10 September 2021

In an amusing afternoon of football, Spurs pulled off a shock by beating Premier League champions Manchester City 1-0.

Well, it should perhaps be classified as a “shock” gjven that Spurs have now beaten City at home for three straight seasons. Each time in the same way, absorbing pressure and hitting them on the break.

Here’s how the players rated at Tottenham Stadium:


Hugo Lloris – 6 – Looked a little shaky at first but City just didn’t test him.

Japhet Tanganga – 9 – Set the tempo early on with consistent fouls on Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling. When the referee didn’t book him for his fourth foul, instead giving him a ridiculously elaborate final warning, it only seemed to galvanise him. Dominated City’s formidable left side for the rest of the game until he was bizarrely subbed off with 10 minutes remaining.

Davinson Sánchez – 9 – A moving brick wall at the back. An absolute colossus in defence. Almost all of City’s attacks went at him and he snuffed them all out. The way he even stepped up to squash City ahead of the back-line in the closing minutes was remarkable.

Eric Dier – 8 – He wasn’t tested all that much but whenever City’s ineffective crosses came into the box, he cleared them.

Sergio Reguilon – 7 – Didn’t have as much to do as Tanganga but was still impressive against Riyad Mahrez.

Oliver Skipp – 7 – After a ropey first few minutes really knuckled down and got stuck in. Didn’t do much more than block passing lanes with his presence but that alone with a great impediment to City;s attack.

Pierre Emile Hojbjerg – 8 – Kickstarted countless breaks with his smart passes. A brilliant presence at the heart of midfield.

Dele Alli – 7 – Worked so hard defensively and made a few nice forward passes.

Lucas Moura – 9 – Absolutely phenomenal display from Lucas. He didn’t score or get an assist yet Spurs’ display would have been simply impossible without him on the field (and to be fair, his lovely flick did start the move for the goal). Led the break on almost every occasion with a mesmeric confidence, completing 5/8 take-ons.

Steven Bergwijn – 6 – Great runs into space but wasteful with the ball.

Heung-min Son – 8 – Hesitated on a few occasions in the first-half where he could have pulled the trigger, almost as though he was looking for Harry Kane. Remedied this in the second-half with a stunning leftie strike to win the game for Spurs. His third straight season scoring for Spurs at home against City in their third straight season. He just loves to hurt Pep’s side!


Giovani Lo Celso (for Bergwijn 77′) – 6 – Came on and showed some brightness in attack.

Matt Doherty (for Tanganga 83′) – 5 – City found more room down the left when he came on.

Cristian Romero (for Hojbjerg 90′) – n/a – Came on late.

Manchester City

Ederson – 5 – Did reasonably well. Was unsighted for Spurs’ goal.

Joao Cancelo – 5 – Contributed so nicely in the build-up, but his final ball was severely lacking.

Ruben Dias – 7 – Almost single-handedly battled against the Spurs break. Possibly unsighted Ederson on the Spurs goal, though.

Nathan Ake – 6 – Solid defensively but didn’t close Son out quickly enough on the goal.

Benjamin Mendy – 4 – Some sharp passes but a cause of countless turnovers and Spurs counters. Just a hideous defensive presence that always seems to cause City more problems than he does the opposition.

Fernandinho – 4 – Really aggressive with his play and was running the show for 15-odd minutes until he ran out of gas. After that he still played as aggressively but kept missing his marks and giving the ball away. Spurs were surging into the space behind him and he never once adjusted to try and put a lid on them. The Spurs goal came because he pushed up to press but got played around easily, so even though he won a team-high 5 tackles he was still a huge disappointment. City needed Rodri.

Ilkay Gundogan – 6 – Reasonably bright as City were on the front foot. Struggled a but when Spurs stretched the game.

Jack Grealish – 5 – Full of positive intent and invention. Drew so many fouls. But in the end he didn’t impact the final third enough. Still caught between City’s system and his one-man-army Aston Villa approach.

Riyad Mahrez – 4 – Looked like he was going to win the day but his final ball evaporated after 20 minutes and he missed the best chance of the match for City when he blazed wide.

Raheem Sterling – 4 – Some sharp running but for the entire last hour before he was subbed off, you’d be forgiven if you forgot he was on the pitch. Needs to step up.

Ferran Torres – 6 – Worked really hard and his movement, pressing and link play was huge.


Gabriel Jesus (for Sterling 70′) – 6 – Upped the work-rate for City but still wasn’t a massive threat.

Oleksandr Zinchenko (for Zinchenko 79′) – 6 – Improved City’s energy.

Kevin De Bruyne (for Mahrez 79′) – 7 – City’s best player and he only showed up for the last 10 minutes. Instantly took command of the game, began playing his team-mates into great positions and making things happen.