By Neil Robinson
LONDON (Reuters) – Something was always likely to give when the Premier League’s two unbeaten sides met at White Hart Lane on Sunday where Tottenham Hotspur swept Manchester City aside 2-0 to inflict Pep Guardiola’s first defeat as the visitors’ manager.
The victory switched the focus from City’s best opening to a top-flight campaign to what has become Spurs’ finest start to a season since 1960-61 when they won the league and FA Cup double.
No wonder Tottenham’s Argentine manager Mauricio Pochettino described their performance as “nearly perfect”.
Spurs are now one point behind City, who have 18 from seven games, and one ahead of third-placed Arsenal, who lived up to their ‘lucky’ tag with a bizarre added-time winner from Laurent Koscielny’s deflection at unfortunate Burnley.
Elsewhere, there were draws for Stoke City at Manchester United (1-1) and Southampton at champions Leicester City (0-0).
Manchester City, who had not dropped a point in their first six games, went behind when Aleksandar Kolarov diverted a Danny Rose cross past his own keeper Claudio Bravo after nine minutes.
Dele Alli added a second after good work from Son Heung-min and, with City failing to cope with Spurs’ pressing and pace, the hosts also had an Erik Lamela penalty saved by Bravo.
No doubt regular taker Harry Kane would have done better from the spot, but in every other respect Spurs coped well without their injured England striker as South Korea’s Son produced another dazzling performance.
By contrast, City struggled without their own missing talisman, Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who had inspired their scintillating start to the season.
Guardiola was gracious in defeat, admitting Spurs had been the better side.
“They are sharper for the second ball, in England you have to control that. We had problems to control the game,” he said.
The day’s most extraordinary finish came at Turf Moor where Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was celebrating 20 years in charge of the Gunners and saw his team snatch a trademark last-gasp victory just when the hosts thought they had earned a draw.
As the clock ticked down, Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pounced on a knockdown by Theo Walcott and shot from close range against the elbow of their French defender Koscielny, who was looking the other way when he deflected the ball into the net.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche was unhappy with almost everything surrounding the goal. “You have to question the added time, the corner and whether it should have come in, the handball and question whether we should have dealt with it,” he said.
Manchester United also had a frustrating day as lowly Stoke registered their first point at Old Trafford since 1989 as Joe Allen popped up late to equalise for the visitors in a 1-1 draw after Anthony Martial had put United ahead in the 69th.
Wales midfielder Allen’s second goal in consecutive games, after 82 minutes, moved Stoke off the bottom of the table, above Sunderland, and eased some of the pressure on boss Mark Hughes.
Once again United’s Jose Mourinho chose to start with Wayne Rooney on the bench, bringing him on in a double substitution with Martial. Within two minutes United were ahead, though it was the Frenchman, not England’s record scorer, who netted.
Despite the result, which left United in sixth place three points worse off than at the same stage last season under Louis van Gaal and five points adrift of neighbours City, Mourinho said it was his side’s “best performance of the season”.
“It was much better than against Leicester (when United won 4-1 last week). It could have been 3-0 or 4-0 at halftime, 6-0 at the end of the game, but the result was 1-1. That’s football,” said the Portuguese.
(This version of the story was refiled to make clear that it was the 1960/61 season in paragraph 2)
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ken Ferris)