Tottenham come from behind with a three-goal salvo to stun Manchester City. Plus: the game through REM albums
Thanks for all your emails, REM-related or not. Head over here for episode No 3,291,275 of the Champions League Race – Liverpool v Chelsea with Jacob Steinberg. But from me, cheerio. I'm off to listen to anyone other than Michael Stipe.
That puts Tottenham level on points with Chelsea (who have a game in hand) and two behind Arsenal with a game in hand on the Gunners. It's going to go down to the wire. City crumbled like wet cake in the last 15 minutes, but you have to admire Villas-Boas's proactive approach from the bench. The much-maligned Huddlestone was actually pretty pivotal in truth.
PEEP! PEEP!! PEEEEEP!!! A quite sensational win for Spurs.
90+2 min: Lescott does his job, winning a flick-on in Carsten Jancker-esque fashion. But Tevez fouls Walker attempting to get hold on the second ball.
90+1 min: Clichy off, Lescott on. Lescott goes up front. Cripes.
90 min: Toure slips the ball through to Tevez on the edge of the box, but for once his control lets him down.
89 min: … Kolarov zips in a foot or so over the bar.
88 min: Tevez, who has been quieter this second half but still doesn't deserve to be on the end of a 3-1 scoreline, goes down on the edge of the box. Dangerous free-kick …
86 min: Toure sends a desperate effort yards over the bar from long range. "City now Out of Time in the title race," notes Simon McMahon.
85 min: If it stays like this – which it surely will, with City looking shellshocked – United will win the title if they beat Aston Villa at Old Trafford tomorrow.
84 min: "Did they just put Automatic for the People on finally?" honks Oliver Lewis.
83 min: AVB must take a lot of credit, obviously, but let's not forget the unsung hero here. Spurs have now scored three times in the 10 minutes since I wrote that they were out of ideas.
Huddlestone finds Bale romping through the middle of the City defence. Hart rushes out. Bale does the dink. A lovely little goal that. City a suddenly a shambles and Spurs utterly rampant.
80 min: All that jigging has worked for Spurs. Villas-Boas 1-0 Mancini.
What a turnaround this is. Holtby finds Defoe galloping away down the left. Kompany allows him to cut inside onto his right and the striker sends an exocet of a shot lazer-beaming across goal and past Hart.
78 min: "When has Huddlestone been better than anyone else on a pitch?" writes Louise Wright. "When he was at Derby County. Back when he was good. Every time the commentators saw him, they’d go on about what a big lad he was “and still growing” like they expected some kind of world-spanning colossus by the time he hit 21. Ah well."
77 min: Spurs have their dander up now.
Little more than 90 seconds after "The Tottenham well of ideas has run dry" they're back on level terms. Walker plays in Bale down the right, and the Welshman plays a stonking ball across the six yard box, a defender-bamboozler, a keeper-flummoxer and Dempsey pokes home from close range at the back post.
74 min: Defoe's through ball towards Dempsey is inaccurate and Hart or Kompany should with it. Hart … or Kompany … or Hart … or Kompany … well, one of you! Dempsey so nearly gets there but City scramble clear.
73 min: Dempsey sidefoots an ambitious shot straight at Hart from distance. That carried the worrying undertone that the Tottenham well of ideas has run dry.
72 min: "Huddlestone?" queries an incredulous Ian Copestake. "When has this player been better than anyone else on a pitch?" I wouldn't go that far, but his presence always makes me think: "Spurs do miss Sandro, don't they?"
71 min: On comes Defoe, and it's Adebayor – utterly ineffectual today – who goes off. And Kolarov was booked for an off-the-ball trip on Huddlestone.
70 min: Walker, who has had a poor game since he got the much coveted Ashdown Seal of Approval early on, is lucky to see his crazy pass across the back four ping away off a City attacker.
69 min: Hart sends a free-kick straight out of play … and Tottenham prepare to introduce Defoe.
67 min: Holtby finds Assou-Ekotto with a pass that seems to thread between players like a speeder bike weaving through trees in the Return of the Jedi. Dempsey goes down in the box as the full-back's cross comes in, but it didn't look a penalty and indeed, again, Mason is unmoved.
66 min: Huddlestone goes into the book for a rather cynical trip on Touré (and an equally cynical bash at the ball while it lay next to the City midfielder).
65 min: Dembele skips past Touré and opts to feed Bale in down the left. His pass back inside is poor – straight to a City defender.
64 min: Kolarov goes down on the touchline under challenge from Dembele and lands uncomfortably on the hard track that surrounds the pitch.
63 min: Dempsey is a gnat's wing away from getting on the end of a trademark Huddlestone Hail Mary pass.
62 min: Spurs have had another tactical rejig following those substitutions – they've been jigged so much in this second half they need a fiddle and banjo soundtrack. They're now 4-3-3.
61 min: Yaya Touré thrashes Walker's poor clearance at goal but it's straight into Lloris's breadbasket.
60 min: Hotlby and Huddlestone replace Sigurdsson and Parker.
59 min: … Bale wangs it high and wide.
58 min: Parker gets across Clichy and wins a hugely dangerous free-kick right on the edge of the box. This couldn't be more Gareth Bale-territory if it had its own flag and national anthem …
57 min: Vertonghen limps away in pain after being caught by Dzeko.
56 min: Kolarov, with a couple of whistles and a "come-by, come-by", shepherds the ball out for a goal-kick.
54 min: As Bale picks the ball up on the right, a voice from the White Hart Lane crowd is picked up on the mic, saying: "Go on Gareth. Go on." But there's a plaintive, pleading quality to it. He's still struggling to affect the game.
53 min: I've now had emails claiming every single one of REM's first 11 albums as their best. It's a game of opinions. In other news, Nasri can't find Tevez with a through-ball.
52 min: Walker searches out Sigurdsson with a long ball, but the former Swansea man can't do much with it.
50 min: "Hi John," begins Rotimi Styles Obisesan, "Be honest, who would you rather have in the top four, Arsenal or Spurs?" Sheffield United.
49 min: Vertonghen is Spurs last man but mops up a through-ball then turns inside one tackle, jinks past another and glides past a third. I don't know, centre-halves these days, eh?
48 min: Assou-Ekotto goes into the book for a ugly lunge on Zabaleta. A bit too forceful, a bit studdy. Could've been another borderline one.
47 min: Sigurdsson slings in a cross, but again it's a hopeful one rather than one with a specific target in mind.
46 min: Bale has moved to the right it seems, with Dempsey pushed further forward in support of Adebayor.
Peep! Off we go again. Kolarov has replaced Milner, who was struggling with hamstring knack.
Let's get this clear:
Murmur to Lifes Rich Pageant – initial slow start then key moment of excellence (Manchester City)
Document - New Adventures in Hi Fi – close to faultless (Carlos Tevez)
Up to Collapse Into Now - Struggling to recapture form (Tottenham and Gareth Bale)
Let that be the end of it.
"Gareth Bale is wonderful of course," notes Gary Naylor, "but his free kick preparations are veering towards Peter Griffin style affectation …"
Peep! And that's that for a pretty gripping first-half. I know Fate will take exception to this, but I'm certain there'll be more goals in the second half.
46+2 min: How did that stay out? Walker goes down the right and fizzes a low cross in, but neither Adebayor or Sigurdsson can make true contact from close as the ball rattles about the six-yard box like a wasp in a jar.
45 min: "Agreed, New Adventures was the last truly great REM album," writes Matt Jones, "but Tevez's performance today has had much
more of a brutal Monster than a mid-period Document or Green feel to it. Glad that's off my chest."
44 min: Spurs' turn to cause problems from a corner. Dempsey gets on the end of it but directs his header a yard or so high of the top corner.
43 min: … and from the third corner in succession, Nastasic nods down at the back post, Tevez awkwardly flicks the ball goalwards, but Lloris makes a sharp save.
42 min: … Tevez picks up the loose ball and sees his effort from the edge of the box deflected well wide by Parker …
41 min: Zabaleta forces a corner from the pony-tailed Assou-Ekotto …
39 min: Another chance for City, another created by Carlos Tevez. He finds the onrushing Dzeko with a perfectly weighted through-ball, but the striker's effort is fairly comfortably dealt with by Lloris.
38 min: Dempsey almost gets in behind but Clichy manages to battle back and snuff out the chance.
37 min: … Bale attempts to do so but manages to hit the two-man wall.
36 min: Zabaleta bundles into Parker from behind to give away a sloppy free-kick. Chance for Spurs to sling a set-piece into the box …
35 min: "Another example of anything goes after a striker's shot with that Nasri chance," writes Edel Tal. "If you take someone out late anywhere else on the pitch it's a foul. Remember how ridiculous that Coloccini challenge was when he broke Ba's nose for example. Something the IFA board should look into. If a penalty is too harsh, how about more of everyone's favourite football fetish with an indirect free kick in the box?"
34 min: The ball does bounce up and glance Barry on the hand. One of those You've-Seen-Them-Given-But-Not-Really-A-Penalty shouts.
33 min: A noisy handball appeal from behind the goal as Dawson nods down another Assou-Ekotto cross. Didn't look it on first viewing – and indeed Mason gave nothing – but will await replay.
31 min: Bale gets his foot on the ball for just about the first time today, certainly the first notable occasion since that early shot. He's got nowhere to go and little option in the box and eventually Spurs have to work the ball backwards. Assou-Ekotto eventually swings in a cross, but Kompany nods clear.
30 min: Pretty much everything Tevez has done so far today has been brilliant. Much like mid-era REM …
28 min: Another lovely City move almost ends with them two up. Zabaleta zips a tricky low pass in to Tevez, who clips the ball on with ludicrous ease to find Nasri. He pokes at goal with Lloris charging out, and beats the keeper … but the ball bobbles a couple of yards wide.
27 min: … Barry swings in the corner, Dempsey gets his noggin on the end of it and nods clear.
26 min: Dzeko shoots, Benoit Asoou-Ekotto deflects wide. Corner …
25 min: "Walker for young player of the year?" asks a incredulous James Hopkin. "Really? Walker's been pretty awful for most of the season, his athleticism often covers up for poor positioning and reading the game?" Certainly I'd agree with the latter part of that. Think he suffers when Lennon is absent too.
24 min: Parker does brilliantly to rob Clichy but then wastes his hard work with a lazy, hopeful pass into the box.
23 min: (Note to self: to avoid conflict, avoid comparing passages of play with REM career periods …)
22 min: "Up is actually superior to New Adventures In Hi-Fi ..." writes the incorrect HP Tinker.
21 min: Dempsey puts Walker in behind the City backline with a gorgeous dinked through-ball, but Walker delays just long enough to allow Hart to come out and smother.
20 min: Stat!
19 min: … slapped straight into the wall by Milner.
18 min: Dawson goes through Dzeko from behind – a clumsy, bungling effort – and he goes into the book as a result. Dangerous free-kick this, 35 yards out.
17 min: It's got a touch scrappy. Walker looks to go outside Nasri but can't find a Spurs shirt with his low cross.
16 min: Lloris launches, Adebayor flicks on … throw in. Spurs are struggling to get their groove back here. Like post-New Adventures In Hi Fi REM.
14 min: Vertonghen returns in a different shirt, dabbing his mouth with a bit of tissue. Or possibly a napkin.
13 min: Lloris hoofs a clearance straight out for a throw. A few muffled grumbles from the home fans.
12 min: Confusion as Spurs' players try to decide whether to kick the ball out so that Jan Vertonghen can get treatment. after a collision with Tevez. After three of four uncertain passes, Walker puts it out.
11 min: Yaya Touré goes into Lee Mason's book of Very Naughty Boys after absent-mindedly kicking the ball away following a Barry block on Parker.
10 min: Zabaleta sends a long searching ball forward in the direction of Dzeko but the Tottenham defence clear.
8 min: Nasri is perhaps a little fortunate to escape unpunished after going over the top of the ball in a challenge with Walker. It wasn't a million miles away from the Giroud challenge yesterday. Perhaps a little less forceful, but still dangerous.
6 min: White Hart Lane is stunned into silence by that. So much so that we can hear Andre Villas-Boas dishing out his instructions.
What a goal this is. Tevez does superbly down the right, and plays a ball inside of subtle genius to find Milner. His pull back is behind Nasri but the former Arsenal man contorts his legs to volley at goal and beat Walker on the line.
4 min: Bale wangs a shot at goal that dips and wiggles like a ball bought from one of those baskets outside a petrol station in the early 90s. It's straight enough, though, for Hart to gather at the second attempt.
3 min: Kompany makes a crucial challenge on the edge of the box as Sigurdsson looks to put the icing on the cake of Spurs' neat buildup.
2 min: Spurs have started brightly.
1 min: Kyle Walker – who might have been worthy of a place on the PFA young player of the year award shortlist – launches a ball down the line looking for Adebayor, but it drifts out of play for a City throw.
Peep! Off we go then. Tottenham kick off in bright sunshine at White Hart Lane.
… the teams are in the tunnel.
Tottenham's last game was against Basle on 11 April. City have played twice since then.
"While MBM's loins are only vaguely stirring there's time to give a little love to the Central Coast Mariners," writes Conor O'Dea. "One of the smaller clubs in the A-League, their heady mixture of youth and journeymen finally won their first Grand Final (fourth attempt).
"A very grand final it was too with fairytale tropes abounding. The Mariners finally triumphing when last month there wasn't even money to pay staff, the beaten Western Sydney Wanderers topping the league and reaching the final when they didn't exist a year ago.
"The two goals were scored by the oldest players to score in a final with Patrick Zwaanswijk heading home on what is probably the last game of his career."
And they won it without 50p-footed midfield enforcer Nick "Monty" Montgomery, formerly of Sheffield United, who was suspended.
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Yaya Toure, Barry; Milner, Tevez, Nasri; Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Kolo Toure, Kolarov, Lescott, Garcia, Sinclair, Aguero.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-1-1): Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Dempsey, Dembele, Parker, Sigurdsson; Bale; Adebayor. Subs: Friedel, Caulker, Naughton, Holtby, Huddlestone, Livermore, Defoe.
So no David Silva in the Manchester City squad and no place for Sergio Agüero in the first XI, while Edin Dzeko comes in for one of his occasional starts up front. Gareth Bale starts for Spurs for the first time since March.
Afternoon all. Feeling inspired? Watched a bit of the London Marathon this morning and thought to yourself: "Next year, I'm going to do it. Time to get in shape." Then noticed the stellar selection of Premier League fixtures, slumped on to your sofa, cracked open a can of fizzy pop, ripped into a bag of salty snacks and settled down for an afternoon of MBM action?
One of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us …
And we do indeed accept you. This is the latest skermish in the Battle for the Champions League Places, a conflict that seems to have been going on for months without anything becoming any clearer. It's probably fair to say that this is a bigger game for Spurs than it is for Manchester City. One win in four represents a significant blip for a Champions League-chasing side at this stage of the season and with Arsenal finding a soupçon of va-va-voom, Andre Villas-Boas's side are under pressure to keep pace. Defeat here would take Tottenham's fate out of their own hands.
And again it is a question of which Manchester City turn up. They were brilliant against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final last weekend, then sloppy against Wigan in midweek. Since the halfway point of the season the form of Roberto Mancini's side has been as changeable as the line-up of the Sugarbabes. If Good City turn up it's going to be a very difficult afternoon for Spurs.