'Stubborn' Pep Guardiola Proved Right As Man City Complete Epic Comeback

Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 in the Premier League
21:59, 19 Jan 2023

Stubborn Pep Guardiola, he never changes anything. 

The Spanish manager pulled off a masterstroke at the Etihad by not making any substitutions at the break, even though his side were booed off the pitch, 2-0 down to Tottenham Hotspur at half-time. 

It’s a trick he likes to pull, with varying levels of success. ‘You got us into this mess, you get us out of it.’ And it worked a treat. The same XI that looked anxious and unconfident in the first period, as they were out-foxed by Antonio Conte’s gameplan, tore Tottenham apart in the 20 minutes after the break to secure a 4-2 comeback win. 


Guardiola will admit himself that he has got things wrong over the past ten days. It’s a period that has seen them dumped out of the Carabao Cup by Southampton and beaten in the Manchester Derby. At half-time, they were staring down the barrel of three defeats in a row and three really poor consecutive performances. 

This was a Man City side without Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva, who all started on the bench. Guardiola was desperate to find the answers after two consecutive defeats and started Julian Alvarez along with Erling Haaland.

Most managers would have torn their side apart, especially with that level of quality on the bench and five substitutions at his disposal. Instead, Guardiola tore the paint of the dressing room walls and sent the same XI out to resolve the problems they had caused themselves. 

For 45 minutes, Tottenham looked like a different team from the one that was played off the park in the North London Derby. Conte may not have wanted to big his side up ahead of the game, but in the first half, they were dogged and resolute, and then pounced on more City apprehension. 

In three minutes before half-time. They struck twice, and it was all of Man City’s own making. First Ederson gave a slightly stray pass to Rodri, who under big pressure could only flick it to Dejan Kulusevski, who fired past the Brazilian goalkeeper. 

The home side, and the crowd, shrank like violets as Spurs stunningly added a second before the break. Harry Kane battled his way down the right and fired the ball across goal where Ederson could only parry it to Emerson Royal, who headed into the unguarded net. It was the first time they’d scored twice in the first half since they battered Norwich on the final day of last season.

Boos rang around the Etihad, for perhaps the first time in Guardiola’s reign. But the Spanish manager’s stubbornness, as it has been referred to several times in the past, is also his strength. He will back his players to the hilt and fill them with confidence to turn any match around.

And that’s exactly what they did. Riyad Mahrez skinned Ivan Perisic on the right and played the ball towards Jack Grealish. As Lloris came out to try and deal with it, the ball dropped to Alvarez and the World Cup winner picked out the top corner. Game on. 

The whole energy and atmosphere around this team had changed and as Guardiola waved them on from the touchline, they tore Spurs apart. It was typical of Tottenham Hotspur to fall apart at this point, and they duly obliged. 

Rodri dinked the ball over for Mahrez and he managed to head the ball across to Haaland who headed home for his 22nd of the season. Rico Lewis made a goal-saving block at the other end as he deflected Perisic’s effort onto the bar and then Mahrez won the game for City. 

He beat Perisic on the right before firing the ball past Lloris at the near post as City completed the turnaround in quickfire fashion. Then, in injury time, he capitalised on a Clement Lenglet error to drink the ball over the goalkeeper. His individual performance was magnificent, but Guardiola must take huge credit for sticking to his guns. 

If City do go on to win the title, this match will be the pivotal one we look back on. Guardiola has been proved right again, while Spurs will always be Spurs. 

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