The Chalkboard: Tottenham stumble on perfect way to beat Manchester City

Tottenham Hotspur may have stumbled onto the perfect opportunity to beat Manchester City in midweek and progress to their first Champions League semi-final in a generation.

Spurs hold a 1-0 aggregate advantage over the Premier League champions from the first leg but will have to play the deciding leg without Harry Kane, who sustained ligament damage in a challenge with Fabian Delph last week.

On the chalkboard

Spurs returned to action on Saturday, thumping a sorry Huddersfield Town team 4-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

That result continued a proud record of not conceding at their new stadium in a competitive game and this newfound defensive solidity could prove key in the second leg, with City having to score at least once to have any chance of progressing to the last four.

Son Heung-Min, who scored the winner against City, was benched for the game versus the Terriers, with Lucas Moura taking his place on the flank. The Brazilian went on to score a hat-trick, with his third goal coming after a pin-point through ball from the South Korea international, on as a substitute for the lumbering Fernando Llorente.

Son and Lucas, then, surely have to start on Wednesday.

City are vulnerable when exposed to searing pace and this was evidenced last season when they were thumped by Liverpool in the Champions League.

Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah dovetailed to devastating effect at Anfield as they collected a 3-0 first leg win and did so again at the Etihad to win 2-1.

A 5-1 aggregate success is surely beyond Spurs here but Jurgen Klopp’s hypothesis remains sound. Partnering Son and Lucas, with Dele Alli, if he is fit, or Christian Eriksen also buzzing around the backline, ensures that there will be no predictability about Spurs’ approach play, with City unlikely to know which player is actually playing up front.

Better without Kane?

It is a ridiculous question to ask, of course it is, and while Spurs are not better without Kane, they are certainly different.

There is more flexibility to their attacking play because Kane is not constantly looking for the ball, desperately trying to make things happen. The Spurs midfield all too regularly looks to funnel the ball through the England captain and it can bring certain attacks to a grinding halt. This has been particularly true in recent defeats to the likes of Burnley and Southampton, with Kane clearly unfit.

Unleashing both Son and Lucas solves that problem at a stroke. Spurs will constantly have runners and will always have players occupying the City backline.

City, of course, are an incredible force when they attack but the breaks Spurs can conjure with the Brazilian and the South Korean will pose a serious question of the hosts.

An away goal could prove decisive; the chances of scoring that are increased dramatically with both players on the pitch.