Man City all but Premier League champions as Tottenham players miss lift in eerie stadium

Jason Soutar
Man City striker Erling Haaland celebrates his goal
Erling Haaland celebrates his goal

That was a very strange Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

You all know what was at stake but here you go anyway. Liverpool’s draw at Aston Villa last night gave Tottenham a top four incentive. That result was one favour Arsenal needed in the Premier League title race, with champions Manchester City facing Ange Postecoglou’s men on Tuesday evening. Anything less than a win for Spurs and the Champions League dream was in the bin, meaning the fans were very conflicted as avoiding defeat would put Arsenal in the driving seat ahead of Sunday’s finale.

Spurs fans on social media were convincing themselves they were happy to lose and Sky Sports were pandering to it, with actual former professional footballers suggesting that players might not want to win because their silly little neighbours could win the league. What a load of nonsense which was quashed by the performances of the Tottenham players against Arsenal’s title rivals, and the team that stood between them and remaining in the hunt for Champions League football.

The funniest thing about this narrative is the indication that Tottenham actually had a choice and that Arsenal’s fate was entirely in their hands, like some sort of evil puppet. As if, if they wanted to win they would, and if they weren’t arsed, they would stick the finger up to their rivals as the champions ran riot. There was a huge possibility that Man City would win by three or four against the best performance of the season from Postecoglou’s players.

But as expected, the atmosphere was very strange and subdued. That was until the instincts took over.

While the biggest chant of the first half was home fans singing, ‘Stand up if you hate Arsenal’, when the referee or his assistant gave a decision against them, the Spurs fans would berate the officials. When a counter attack was on, they would urge their team on. See, no matter how you feel about your rivals, football instincts always kick in.

It was almost as if after 30 minutes the Spurs fans sat up and realised this match was absolutely winnable. City were not at it. And as that was written in my notes at 20:30, the Spurs fans stood up and cried that same chant as before. Maybe not then.

While the fans in white weren’t sure what to want, the players in all-white were motivated. Radu Dragusin’s excellent block to keep out Bernardo Silva was met with more of a celebration than Erling Haaland provided for any of his two (potentially) title-clinching goals.

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Spurs were pretty decent in the opening 45 minutes but it only took six minutes in the second half for the deadlock to be broken by Haaland. It was a move manufactured on the training ground and executed several times on matchday. Kevin De Bruyne made that delayed run to the byline and squared it across goal as he does so exquisitely, with any touch from a defender likely to go in their own goal and the inevitable touch from Haaland on the line always going in.

Spurs’ reaction was great and the fans were behind the team as Dejan Kulusevkski’s introduction added a spark in Postecoglou’s attack. He was denied on a couple of occasions by Stefan Ortega – who came off the bench for a potentially concussed Ederson – and was easily his side’s most dangerous player on the night despite coming in the 55th minute.

While Guglielmo Vicario, Kulusevski and Dragusin were shining, Heung-min Son and Pedro Porro proved that they are indeed COYS through and through.

In the 85th minute, Spurs skipper Son was gifted a one-on-one, his bread and butter, thanks to a poor Manuel Akanji touch and as Arsenal fans across the world held their breath, he failed to equalise, shooting tamely towards Ortega’s right leg.

Four minutes later Porro gave away a penalty after fouling Jeremy Doku in the box and Haaland obviously converted the spot-kick, ensuring Big Ange would not earn Champions League qualification in his first year and that City would enter the final day of the season with one hand on the Premier League trophy. Arsenal supporters were left gutted, Spurs players disappointed, everyone associated with City elated, and Spurs fans neither here nor there.

Incidentally, the home fans were the loudest they had been all night after it became 2-0, changing from anti-Arsenal chants during their final home minutes of the season.

Spurs fans will obviously not be too downhearted after a defeat in their final home game of the campaign, a result that means they will probably be in the Europa League next season. So, from a bitter Arsenal fan, I hope you enjoy the tournament earnings. And I hope you spend them on some grace and decorum. And some shooting boots for Heung-min Son.

The title picture is not a nice one for those Gunners, with City closing in on a ridiculous fourth Premier League title in a row. Maybe the bitterness is taking over again, but it’s a bit boring, innit?

The dominance in the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 has been something to downplay the standard of those divisions, but the supposed best league in the world – certainly the richest league in the world – has been too predictable for too long. It’s a shame, but City’s biggest rivals have bigger rivals themselves, so nobody is really that arsed when they win it all. Until you are the fan on the receiving end of their inevitability. Bloody go away, Pep! Please!

That is one hand on the trophy for City, a curious footnote to a positive season for Tottenham, and as for Arsenal, they will do their best to beat Everton on Sunday and hope Mikel Arteta’s former Everton boss, David Moyes, can do him a favour his team’s arch-rivals couldn’t.

It is bloody unlikely though. As it was that Spurs would manage to get something against City on Tuesday. Ah well, on to Sunday. Get those X profile pictures changed to the West Ham badge, you daftly hopeful Arsenal fans.

More: Tottenham | Man CityTop scorers of 2024