Manchester City extended their winning streak to 16 matches as Raheem Sterling scored twice in a 4-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. City outclassed Spurs with another dominant display that had all the hallmarks of Premier League champions.
Ilkay Gundogan, replacing the unavailable David Silva, was left unmarked to head in the opener in the early skirmishes before the irrepressible Kevin de Bruyne doubled City’s lead on 70 minutes. Sterling added a late brace – taking his season’s total to 11 – before Christian Eriksen netted a consolation in stoppage-time.
City, at least temporarily, stretched their lead at the top of the table to 14 points, while Tottenham slipped to seventh. Here are three talking points as the goals rained down at the Etihad…
Record-breaking City are unstoppable
This game had been billed as a serious threat to City’s recent record, but in truth it was another mismatch. Spurs never got a foothold on proceedings and were always chasing the game once Gundogan had scored on 20 minutes. It was one they were never going to win.
Pep Guardiola’s charges simply had too much flair and guile for the visitors to handle. There is no shame in being thrashed by City, although some of the goals they conceded will have alarmed Mauricio Pochettino. The Premier League leaders are so rampant that even the most stubborn and defensively organised teams eventually succumb.
Now it is not a question of if the Cityzens will win the title, but when. It could be by a record margin. With very few weaknesses and a patented brand of football that is joyful to watch, there is an argument that they are the best team in Europe, not just England.
City will be crowned Premier League champions – and who would bet against them racking up more than 100 points in the process?
De Bruyne shines despite David Silva’s absence
When the team-sheets revealed Silva was missing, Spurs supporters probably breathed a sigh of relief. But if they had forgotten about de Bruyne, they were soon reminded he is one of the best footballers in Europe.
The Belgian has been mesmerising this season and boss Guardiola waxed lyrically about him in his post-match interviews. Guardiola can take a lot of credit for improving a player who was already close to world-class. It is his coaching that has now placed de Bruyne firmly in that category.
If anything summed up his performance against Spurs, it was in the build-up to City’s second goal. De Bruyne had been caught late by a rash challenge from Dele Alli. But justice was served when the playmaker fired an unstoppable left-footed shot past Hugo Lloris moments later, which effectively ended the contest.
It was fitting reward for a footballing masterclass from de Bruyne.
Alli’s poor form is indicative of Spurs’ struggles
Whereas de Bruyne continues to illuminate the Premier League, the contrast with Dele Alli could not be greater. Both players are undoubtedly hugely talented, but while the Belgian’s game has kicked on, the same cannot be said of his English counterpart.
Alli was in sparkling form last season, but this campaign has been a disappointing one for the former MK Dons midfielder and is emblematic of Tottenham’s struggles.
Alli has long been dogged by discipline issues and that reputation was only enhanced against City. As mentioned above, he was fortunate not to receive a red card for a poor challenge on de Bruyne in the build-up to the hosts’ second goal. It was late and on another day it could have caused lasting damage to the Belgian’s ankle.
Perhaps it was borne out of frustration at another disappointing display against a top-six team. But it is something Alli must address because his questionable temperament flares up too often and undermines his ability.