Robbie Savage: How Spurs can beat Man City

Robbie Savage

In his regular BBC Sport column, Robbie Savage looks at the tactical decisions which could decide Wednesday's game between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

Why Spurs should not sit back against Man City

We already know Tottenham play more attacking football under Tim Sherwood than they did under Andre Villas-Boas, and I do not expect Sherwood to change that approach against Manchester City at White Hart Lane.

That means both teams will be looking to attack because I cannot see City boss Manuel Pellegrini holding back either.

Manchester City thrashed Tottenham 6-0 at Etihad Stadium in November
Manchester City thrashed Tottenham 6-0 at Etihad Stadium in November

The only time Pellegrini has really been cautious in the Premier League was when City played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in October.

That day he left out Alvaro Negredo and played an extra midfielder, Javi Garcia, instead of two strikers. City lost 2-1 because of a mistake from Joe Hart, but I felt Pellegrini picked the wrong team.

Since then, he has played two up front in every league game, home or away.

An example of when Pellegrini got it right was City's 6-0 thrashing of Tottenham in November, when Andre Villas-Boas was still in charge of Tottenham.

Under Sherwood, the most obvious change by Spurs has been to play two strikers themselves, with Emmanuel Adebayor coming into the team to partner Roberto Soldado.

Sherwood picked Adebayor as a lone striker in their last game, against Swansea, but crucially he got much better support and saw far more of the ball than Soldado ever did when he was up front on his own under Villas-Boas.

Under the Portuguese, Spurs did get their wide men forward but their attacking moves often ended with shots from the edge of the area, and they had the worst shot conversion rate in the top flight.

Since Sherwood took over they are taking fewer shots, but are making more of them count than any other Premier League team.

Tottenham in 2013-14 (and overall rank)
Premier LeagueUnder SherwoodUnder Villas-Boas
Goals14 (1)15 (12)
Goals per game2.33 (2)0.94 (12)
Shots56 (10)207 (4)
Shots per game9.3313
Shots on target %46,43% (8)44.44% (8)
Goals to shots %25% (1)7.25% (20)
Possession %53.82% (5)56.33% (6)
Pass completion %82.14% (9)82.97 (8)
Goals conceded5 (5)21 (12)
Goals conceded per game0.83 (4)1.31 (12)

Their average possession and passing accuracy has not dropped significantly and, crucially, they have improved defensively as well.

But taking the game to City is definitely Tottenham's best bet because if you try to hold them off, they will always break you down in the end.

Spurs should go for it because look where that approach got Watford, who were 2-0 up against City at half-time in the FA Cup at the weekend. It took two defensive substitutions for Pellegrini to rescue that game.

Tottenham obviously have better players than Watford, so Sherwood should stick with his attacking outlook and set up a team to put City on the back foot and pressure their defence.