Tottenham 0 – 1 Manchester City: What did we learn as City return to the top of the table?

Although it was far less comfortable than he would have hoped, Pep Guardiola saw his side continue their unbeaten record in North London.

Picking up a fourth win at Wembley in 2018, an emotional Riyad Mahrez proved to be the match-winner when he swept home from close range after just six minutes.

Despite Spurs’ persistence on a pitch heavily affected by Sunday’s NFL match, Mauricio Pochettino couldn’t break down a Manchester City defence who have now gone over nine hours without conceding a Premier League goal.

Now losing 11 of the last 16 meetings between the two sides, Tottenham’s week couldn’t have gone much worse after suffering more Champions League heartbreak last week.

As the defending champions reclaimed their spot at the top of the Premier League table, what did we learn from Monday night’s clash.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 29: Raheem Sterling of Manchester City is challenged by Davinson Sanchez of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on October 29, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

1. Sterling reaches milestone

While he might have been criticised for his performances out in Russia, it is hard to argue that Raheem Sterling isn’t going from strength to strength.

While Leroy Sane and Mahrez rotate in Guardiola’s starting XI, Sterling has remained a constant in City’s side.

Starting brightly and not afraid to exploit the space behind Kieran Trippier, the 23-year-old done brilliantly to tee up Mahrez after just six minutes.

Although some will argue that Sterling still must improve on his goal return, the winger was once again a key player in City’s attacking trio.

With 22 goals and 14 assists since the start of last season, Only Mohamed Salah (50) and Harry Kane (38) have been directly involved in more Premier League goals than Sterling.

One area that the England international has particularly improved on is his play off the ball.

Frequently caught offside and nullifying City’s attacks last season, Sterling done brilliantly to time his runs and always had Trippier looking over his shoulder.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 29: Benjamin Mendy of Manchester City battles for possession with Moussa Sissoko of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on October 29, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

2. Mendy is a defensive liability

While what he offers Manchester City in the final third isn’t up for debate, there still remains plenty of questions over Benjamin Mendy’s defensive ability.

Often drifting needlessly into the middle of the pitch, the former Monaco man endured a torrid first half and was generally the cause for most of Tottenham’s opportunities.

Completely losing concentration to allow Moussa Sissoko a clean run at Ederson’s goal, had Fernandinho not crucially intervened Mendy’s mistake would have been more heavily highlighted.

Although the 26-year-old does have five Premier League assists to his name, his defensive vulnerabilities are starting to become all too regular for Guardiola’s liking.

Caught out by Sissoko once again moments after the restart, Mendy’s erratic performance constantly had Spurs believing they were in the game.

Also appearing to lash out on Lamela with only moments remaining, Guardiola’s Manchester City will not tolerate such foolish outbursts.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 29: Kieran Trippier of Tottenham Hotspur is challenged by Sergio Aguero of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on October 29, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

3. Tottenham will rue a missed opportunity

Although City did manage to keep the hosts at arm’s length for large spells, Pochettino will feel it was an opportunity missed.

Epitomized by the showing of Mendy at left-back, City had the air of a side suffering with some nerves under the Wembley lights.

While some will blame the condition of the pitch, Pochettino will know how rare a chance it is to face a City side who might not quite be on their A-game.

One man who epitomized Tottenham’s performance was Erik Lamela, the man who missed their most clearcut chance.

Despite the Argentina international putting in a tireless shift, he couldn’t find his composure and blazed over with 15 minutes remaining.

With Pochettino admitting that this is the toughest time in his tenure at Spurs, there could be concerns a top-four finish might not be as straightforward as first thought.

Unable to capitalize on any opportunity that City might have handed them, there will still be plenty of questions over Tottenham’s performances against the more equipped Premier League sides.

Since Pochettino took charge in 2014-15, only Arsenal have accumulated fewer points in games between the established top-six sides than the 54 earned by Spurs.

Also see:

Paul Merson’s hilarious reply when questioned on Tottenham’s ‘success’.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium suffers further delays until after Christmas.

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