Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League • England

Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou warned not to repeat historic Arsene Wenger mistake at Man City

Ange Postecoglou (Spurs manager)

Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou

Arsenal legend Paul Merson has sent a big warning to Ange Postecoglou over the style of play he adopts for Tottenham when they head to Manchester City on Sunday.

Merson feels that Pep Guardiola’s men will rip Spurs to shreds if the away side play the same way they did against Aston Villa in their 2-1 home defeat last weekend.

Postecoglou has refused to abandon his high-risk, front-foot football over recent weeks, despite the fact the north London side have been missing countless players through injury and suspension that are critical to that approach.

And while the Tottenham chief rightly argued that his side deserved more out of the Chelsea and Villa defeats, many pundits have criticised him for not scaling back over his attacking ethos.

They include the likes of former Spurs midfielder Jermaine Jenas, who would have preferred his old side to be more pragmatic against Villa last time out.

And now Merson has waded in and warned Postecoglou ahead of the game at The Etihad, citing a massive Arsene Wenger mistake when he was in charge of Arsenal at Manchester United in 2011.

Merson told Sky Sports: “There’s no way Tottenham can go and play the way they do against Man City. Great managers change things up.

“I like Ange, he’s a top manager. He’s come into the Premier League to a big club and said he’s going to play his way, front-foot football – and I have all the respect in the world for him doing that.

“I remember many years ago I was in the studio when Arsenal went to Old Trafford. Arsene Wenger, never sits back, plays on the front foot. He’d got about seven injuries, played exactly the same way, got beat 8-2. 8-2. That’s not clever.

“You’ve got to play to your strengths. Sometimes you’ve got to say, ‘you know what, it’s not right to do that this weekend’, and they’ve got to change it up.

“Lose this game, that’s four on the trot. For the last four games with those injuries, at least three of them you’ve got to rein it in and think about nicking a point here, a point there, and maybe nick a win on the way too.

“But trying to win all three of those games… Sometimes you just haven’t got the players. The fans aren’t silly, they’ve seen enough of it over the years at Tottenham. They know he’s trying to entertain, but if you’ve not got Robbie Williams’ voice you’re not selling out Knebworth.

“Manchester City couldn’t cope with the injuries Tottenham have got. Eight players out, and a lot of those are key players too. If they go to the Etihad and open the game up they’ll ship five, I’ve got no doubt.”

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Bissouma back but defensive woes continue

Postecoglou will at least have Yves Bissouma back for the game at City after he served a one-match ban last weekend. Pape Matar Sarr could also return after a knock, which would mean Tottenham being able to field their first-choice central midfield pairing.

The big issues remain at the back, where Postecoglou could turn back to Dier to combat the aerial power of Erling Haaland rather than opt for Emerson Royal playing central again.

Tottenham were vulnerable to set-piece play all game long against Villa, especially after losing Rodrigo Bentancur for more than two months in the first-half of that defeat.

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