Manchester City 6 Tottenham 0
As enjoyable as it was to see one of the best teams in the Premier League at their most clinical, another Manchester City demolition job leaves Manuel Pellegrini nowhere nearer to solving his puzzle.
City have been doing this since the 4-0 win over Newcastle in the opening round of fixtures and now have 26 goals, with just two conceded, from a perfect run of six home wins this season.
Pellegrini’s team has shown they can destroy anyone in the league on their own patch but away from home, whatever arguments that statistics and patterns of play can throw up, their record has been woeful.
And until they can find a way to clock up victories on a consistent basis when they are a level below yesterday’s excellence — and facing a rather generous Tottenham defence certainly helped — they will be trapped in their current battle to take control of a top-four place rather than competing for a second title in three years.
It is still early days under Pellegrini but that they have already played almost a third of their away matches — yielding four points and four defeats from their six ties — and left more than a nagging doubt about their ability to stick the pace.
They played like champions yesterday but only moved within six points of Arsenal.
The ‘can they do it at Stoke on a cold Tuesday?’ question is now a part of the modern football lexicon to the point of cliché. But there is a sense Pellegrini, who confirmed Joe Hart will return to the City side for Wednesday’s Champions League meeting with Viktoria Plzen, can’t wait for back-to-back trips to West Brom and Southampton.
“It’s impossible to play better than today. Of course we have to improve away and we are going to do it,” Pellegrini said. “The problem is away but I don’t think we played so different away.
“For different reasons we haven’t had the results but if we continue this way we will have the best results away. It’s the same style and we will continue with that one style of football.
“It’s not normal to win by six goals but we have more than four goals in each home game but I am more happy the way we played as a team, as a balanced team in defence and attack.”
Tottenham’s defence, which had conceded six goals before their trip to the Etihad, has been a major reason why they have not already disappeared from view due a lack of goals and that was underlined as Andre Villas-Boas’ men downed tools as a collective on their way to equalling their worst defeat since the start of the Premier League. Spurs were a shambles and chucked in a performance that dredged up all the long-standing questions about the €130m summer spending spree and the departure of Gareth Bale.
In September, former Tottenham goalkeeper Erik Thorstvedt claimed his old club had “sold Elvis and bought the Beatles” and yet here was a bunch that looked like they’d have been beaten at five-a-side by the Happy Mondays after a particularly heavy weekend. The ‘resistance’ lasted just 14 seconds.
Hugo Lloris cleared straight to Sergio Aguero and, making his first Spurs appearance since suffering a heavy head knock in a challenge with Romelu Lukaku at the start of the month, the Frenchman pulled off a fine stop from the Argentina forward but Jesus Navas was on hand to fire brilliantly into the far corner for his first Premier League goal.
Lloris did better palming away from Aguero after the City man tried to clip into the corner after swapping passes with Negredo.
Just after the half-hour Lloris blocked from Aguero but Alvaro Negredo’s shot hit Younes Kaboul and Sandro, who had already been sick on the pitch, on the way in.
Four minutes before the break, City glided through to score a third when Pablo Zabaleta played Navas in behind the Spurs defence and the Spaniard crossed for Aguero to sweep into the far corner.
Emmanuel Adebayor came off the bench at half-time but any hope of the visitors clawing their way back was ended when Yaya Toure exchanged passes with Negredo on halfway and surged away from Kyle Walker before squaring for Aguero to tap in. After Nasri prodded onto the bar, Fernandinho picked out Negredo on the edge of the area and the powerful Spaniard span away from Michael Dawson before thumping into the corner.
The gallows humour was already out in force in the Tottenham end but City eased off before Navas latched on to a long clearance from James Milner to break away and score the sixth in added time.
Aguero has 15 goals this season and Pellegrini rates him among the best. “(For Negredo) playing aside Aguero, it’s easy because after Messi and (Ronaldo) they are the top players in the world,” he added.
MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): Pantilimon 6; Zabaleta 7, Demichelis 7, Nastasic 6 (Lescott 46, 6), Clichy 6; Navas 9, Toure 8, Fernandinho 9, Nasri 7 (Milner 79, 6); Aguero 9 (Garcia 69, 6), Negredo 9.
TOTTENHAM (4-5-1): Lloris 4; Walker 5, Dawson 5, Kaboul 6, Vertonghen 6; Lennon 5, Paulinho 5 (Dembele 61, 6), Sandro 4, Holtby 4 (Adebayor 46, 6), Lamela 4; Soldado 5 (Sigurdsson 61, 6)
Referee: Howard Webb
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