Mahrez is the man! Man City winners, losers and ratings as title hopes kept alive while Tottenham crumble

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Riyad Mahrez Manchester City 2022-23
Manchester City fought back from two goals down to clinch a potentially vital 4-2 win over Tottenham in the Premier League on Thursday.

Heading into the game with heads down, off the back of a perhaps unjust Manchester derby defeat and in the knowledge that Tottenham had beaten them three times in their last five meetings, the pressure was on Manchester City.

You could sense it, too. While Spurs have become notorious for their poor starts to games under Antonio Conte, there was something different about the opening exchanges at the Etihad Stadium. City, for all their possession, lacked conviction and were kept at arm's length.

That nervousness came to a boil at the end of the half, erupting into two quickfire goals borne out of City's own defensive mishaps. All the possession, all the chances, and suddenly Pep Guardiola's side headed town the tunnel having conceded goals from Dejan Kulusevski and Emerson Royal.

Was it happening again? Were Spurs going to find another huge performance against City? It's not often a Conte side lets a two-goal lead slip in the second half of a game. But as Giorgio Chiellini infamously once said: "It's the history of Tottenham."

It took City - who looked absolutely rampant after the break - just eight minutes to claw back the game to 2-2. Riyad Mahrez in particular smelled blood and dragged City back onto the front foot against a Tottenham outfit that completely capitulated.

The Algerian then cemented his Man of the Match worthy performance by firing in a brace to give City a huge three points that just about keep them in reach of Premier League leaders Arsenal. On a rather absurd night at the Etihad Stadium, here are the winners and losers...

  1. The Winners
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    The Winners

    Riyad Mahrez:

    Touchline wingers who get chalk on their boots, run at players and have no regard for their critics. Yeah, City need more of those.

    Say what you want about Spurs' lack of bottle - it's bad - Mahrez was the one to force the issue. Without him in the XI, City lack so much creativity and intent. There are few wingers who can do what he does so consistently at the highest level and, crucially, turn games around like he did against Tottenham.

    Endlessly skilful and always looking towards goal, he's a defender's worst nightmare.

    Rico Lewis:

    Being careful not to reduce Lewis to a passion player and nothing more, having a local boy like him break into the first team and provide some bite beyond the usual, robotic technical excellence is invaluable for City.

    The best part about Lewis, though, is that he brings both aspects and he has adapted to the pressure of being a first team player at City seamlessly, which speaks volumes about his talent.

    When he's not bursting forward and picking out brilliant passes or knitting together play, he's doing the dirty work defensively. His block in the second half to deny Ivan Perisic a certain goal embodies that.

    In a time where City might need to think about quietly refreshing their squad, Lewis has to be a part of the next iteration. A sublime talent.

    Premier League fans:

    A win for City is a reminder to fans of English football that they are far from out of the title race. In fact, the way in which they came from behind to squash Spurs was a statement of intent.

    City still have to play Arsenal twice, too. At the halfway point of the season, to write off Guardiola's side would be perilous.

    We could be on for a potentially brilliant and perhaps wild title race between City and Arsenal in the second half of the campaign. And who knows, perhaps Manchester United might still join in and make it a three-way tussle.

    Whatever it is, have the popcorn at the ready.

  2. The Losers
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    The Losers


    You win some, you lose some. But it feels like with Ederson, he's losing a lot more than he wins these days.

    There was a point where his risky approach to football suited City, but there's a fine balance between being ultra cool and simply lacking concentration. His error to gift Tottenham the lead was wholly unavoidable and came at a seriously damaging time, after City had been on the front foot for 45 minutes.

    Ironically, it's the Brazilian's range of passing that sets him apart. Instead of playing his defenders into danger, his laser accurate punts down the field could be a secret weapon with Haaland so keen to get in behind defenders.

    More long passes, less hospital balls, Ederson. It's becoming a serious problem now that City aren't beating everybody in front of them.

    Hugo Lloris:

    Not a great night to be a member of the goalkeepers' union.

    The concern with Lloris isn't the mistakes he makes, it's more the fact you know he's destined to make at least one, and has been that way for several years now. Spurs are yet to address that, though, and instead let him stay between the sticks donning the captain's armband. What does this say about the mentality running through the club?

    He's not been good enough for a number of years and it's rearing it's ugly head once again. There's no excuse for being beaten the way he was for City's third goal, and yet he knows he won't be dropped for his consistently shaky performances.

    Something has got to give. If Spurs are serious about winning, they'll address their goalkeeping situation as soon as possible.

    Manchester United:

    If their draw at Crystal Palace didn't already feel like a loss, it certainly does now.

    The Red Devils had the chance to momentarily jump above City in the Premier League table by beating the Eagles on Wednesday night, but were undone by a stunning Michael Olise free-kick in a timid performance. City, meanwhile, didn't panic after another shoddy first half and burst past Spurs to claim a win that could be crucial to their season's fortunes.

    Should United have won, the pressure really would've been on City. But they didn't, and suddenly any faint hopes of clawing their way into a title race have been decimated. It's not their time - yet.

  3. Manchester City Ratings: Defence

    Manchester City Ratings: Defence

    Ederson (3/10):

    The Brazilian stopper has made a career from taking risks and having sublime technical ability, but his decision making again let him down here and landed his team in very hot water. Played a hospital pass into Rodri which helped gift Spurs the lead, which you could argue unsettled City and resulted in them conceding a second moments later.

    Rico Lewis (7/10):

    Continues to impress despite his age and experience. Provides punch and technical ability and goes about his business with confidence.

    Manuel Akanji (4/10):

    A really poor showing off the back of a rather commanding display at Old Trafford. All at sea and completely crumbled when Spurs quickly ramped up the pressure.

    John Stones (6/10):

    Important on his return from injury, particularly after the break as City took the game to their opponents.

    Nathan Ake (5/10):

    Not his best showing, but not quite has bad as some of his defensive colleagues.

  4. Midfield


    Rodri (5/10):

    Nothing he could do about the poor pass he received from Ederson, but could've done better for Tottenham's second. Not his usual, dominant self.

    Ilkay Gundogan (6/10):

    Doesn't provide the same game-changing quality as Kevin De Bruyne, but still important - particularly after the break once City had gained control and needed to dictate the flow of the game.

    Jack Grealish (7/10):

    Give him the licence to run at players, take risks and be more direct and you'll reap the rewards. In an era where City need to be less robotic, Grealish can thrive. He did after the break against Spurs, proving key to the comeback.

  5. Attack


    Riyad Mahrez (9/10):

    The Algerian is so important to this side, it cannot be overlooked. For all the patient possession play and waiting to pull teams open, Mahrez gives City a completely different dimension. He was rampant against Spurs, stretching the pitch, isolating defenders, beating them and playing risky passes in behind. An all-time performance.

    Erling Haaland (6/10):

    He'll always score goals, but there's definitely a way to get Haaland to score even more consistently that City haven't quite managed to grasp yet - which is admittedly frightening. Bagged the all important equaliser while looking like a square peg in a round hole. That says it all. Freakish.

    Julian Alvarez (6/10):

    Quietly impressive display. Makes alternative runs and, with Haaland occupying defenders' minds, was able to enjoy more space. The two should start together more often.

  6. Subs & Manager

    Subs & Manager

    Bernardo Silva (6/10):

    Brought on to give City an extra layer of class in the middle of the park.

    Kyle Walker (N/A):

    Might have to get used to playing a part from the bench with the impact Lewis has had on the side.

    Ruben Dias (N/A):

    Only introduced for the closing stages.

    Pep Guardiola (6/10):

    Whatever he said at half-time worked. That and a bit of faith in his players paid dividends, but there is a bigger issue to address. City must cut out these streaky periods within a 90 minute game and have to find a way to get the ball to Erling Haaland more consistently.