Technology has become Man City's nemesis
|MANCHESTER CITY||TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR|
|(Raheem Sterling 20, Sergio Aguero 35)||(Erik Lamela 23, Lucas Moura 56)|
Steven Spielberg inadvertently nailed Manchester City's ongoing predicament.
The legendary Hollywood director once said that technology has the potential to become both our best friend but the biggest party pooper of life.
Pep Guardiola must feel like he's stuck in The Twilight Zone after the VAR denied his team at the death against Tottenham Hotspur again.
Gabriel Jesus' stoppage-time strike appeared to have placed the English Premier League champions on a firm footing to recapture their title-winning winning form and strike an early blow to the chasing pack with a smash-and-grab victory yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Technology, however, had other ideas.
At the same end of the Etihad Stadium – and exactly four months to the day – that Raheem Sterling thought he had wrapped up a Champions League quarter-final between the teams, City found themselves suffering from deja vu with yet another disallowed late goal.
Aymeric Laporte's handball in the build-up to Jesus' winner that never was flew in the face of previous suggestions that VAR would allow for leniency when the subject arose in the EPL.
Complaints from Guardiola were inevitable. He knows how decisive the fine margins proved for City last season as Liverpool exceeded expectations and took them down to the wire.
Instead, the Catalan should be directing his ire more inwardly than at match officials in a game where the reigning champions' dominance was unquestionable but still unfulfilled.
A matter of hours since Juergen Klopp's exhausted charges eked out a narrow victory at Southampton, City aimed to throw down the gauntlet once more to catch them if they can.
Spurred on by Kevin de Bruyne, they initially succeeded. In the first half alone, the Belgium international surpassed his previous season's tally of just two assists. He would have claimed a hat-trick in the opening 45 minutes had Ilkay Guendogan not skewed a close-range effort.
De Bruyne's incisive deliveries made a complete mockery of Guardiola's pre-match assertion that Spurs are "the second best team in Europe", as did his hunting down of Hugo Lloris which bordered on defrocking for the World Cup winner. Lesser opponents will be far less fortunate.
Returning at half-strength carried a sense of foreboding to Liverpool's own title designs last term. If he can maintain this current vein of form, the City juggernaut will be able to steamroll to the top spot, largely uncontested, for a second time in three seasons.
In Sterling, too, they possess a player who is already staking his claim on the Golden Boot with the England talisman scoring his fourth goal in just two EPL matches.
But an asterisk is never far away where City are concerned, even in the Guardiola era.
They mustered 30 shots on goal to Tottenham's paltry sum of three and should have been comfortably out of sight before a close encounter of the VAR kind intervened.
Defensively, too, lapses surfaced as they backed off Erik Lamela for a long-range equaliser which was compounded by Ederson's poor positional sense, allowing the ball to creep in.
Sergio Aguero restored City's advantage 10 minutes before the break, but Lucas Moura needed only 19 seconds to equalise after coming on as a second-half substitute.
City have routinely punished teams in such fashion. They have now been on the receiving end of it twice in just one game.
Guardiola's rage against the machine masked the true story at the Etihad yesterday.
He argued that VAR needs "a little more consistency" – so do his own team.