Terrace talk: Man City - If there is a better player than de Bruyne, he is keeping quiet

There was a feeling in the thickening Manchester air that Tottenham might give City a difficult time, that here was a team of talent and character that might just stand toe-to-toe and offer us all some more ideas about just how good City are. 

Terrace talk: Man City - If there is a better player than de Bruyne, he is keeping quiet

As the mists swirled around the ground and the news filtered through that David Silva would be sitting this one out, the typical City frowns deepened on the brows of the faithful.

What transpired in the next 90 minutes can only be described as a complete slap in the face to anyone, who had the slightest doubts.

City were magnificent from start to finish. Spurs, usually a classy, ball-playing side, were reduced to leg breaking lunges from the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli that should have been rewarded with red cards.

Alli’s challenge in particular, which in slow-motion replays showed impact curving Kevin de Bruyne’s leg like a straw, was the ugliest moment of a match liberally decorated with balletic poise from the home side. The Belgian himself had the perfect riposte to the assault, smacking an outstanding second goal a minute after the horror tackle that had threatened to end his participation in this game.

As City march on, we can only stand and admire the audacity of pass and move through even the tightest of midfields and the most clogged of defences. Where simple mortals see a forest of legs, these boys see a possible pass.

Only Everton, Ronald Koeman’s Everton, have managed to get anywhere near stopping this City side in 2017-18 and even that point was aided and abetted by Michael Oliver’s ghost red card for Kyle Walker for an offence that made Dele Alli’s lunge here look like attempted murder in comparison.

In Silva’s sudden absence, Ilkay Gundogan filled in. The German offers less of the mesmeric short passing and tricky little swivels, but he can head a corner in without leaving the ground when totally unmarked. With City off and running, we were treated to the Leroy Sane show down the left wing. Kieran Trippier, Tottenham fans are often keen to point out, is a clear upgrade on Kyle Walker, but here he was in danger of being completely trampled underfoot as Sane danced the fandango right through his territory.

De Bruyne too was on fire. Placing a pass badly, time seemed to stand still as everyone took the spectacle in. A pass that had failed to find its target! What wonderful novelty. Normal service resumed, the Belgian metronome dictated everything good that City manufactured and there was plenty of that. He appeared left and right and danced through the centre, with passes short and long.

If there is a better player in the Premier League this season, he is keeping it very quiet.

Plaudits too for Mangala, suddenly imbued with a confidence that has allowed him to find and use his right foot. Strolling about like he had been in the first team for years, he did not put a foot wrong. Outside him Fabian Delph did a passable impersonation of Paolo Maldini to Mangala’s Baresi. The whole world, you felt, was turning on its axis.

Behind them Ederson was busy pinging the ball pitch length with the accuracy of Gary Player wielding a three iron. One outrageous left footer to the right touchline carried most of the length of the pitch and landed on Raheem Sterling’s instep. Bored of watching his teammates dance the fandango, the Brazilian keeper was evidently keen to join in the party.

Can City keep this up? It is unlikely. There will be - indeed have been – off days when the ball refuses to roll or the opposition lines are just too thick to penetrate. Workaday Huddersfield, West Ham, Southampton and Manchester United have already shut up shop and kept City to one-goal victories. There will be others.

Those days are for the future, however. For now, City sit 11 points clear of United and 21 ahead of Spurs. For those in need of a reminder, it is mid-December. Maintain this and the sky is clearly the limit. Fixtures are beginning to pile up ahead, with League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League engagements looming. Any footballer will tell you, however, when the confidence is high and things are going this swimmingly, you cannot wait for the next match to come along.

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