Manchester City 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur
If there is a more in-form player anywhere in Europe right now than Ilkay Gundogan, I have yet to see him.
After scoring twice as City ran riot at Liverpool last weekend, here were another two from the German midfielder as he took his tally to 11 goals in his last 12 Premier League appearances – all this after netting 10 in his previous 82!
The player of the month for January may soon become a contender for player of the season if he can maintain this form but, more importantly, he has helped Pep Guardiola’s team move seven points clear at the summit with a 16th straight win in all competitions.
For the opposition, it would be easy to be harsh on Spurs and Jose Mourinho after this comprehensive scoreline but I will refrain from that.
After all, for all their dominance, Spurs only allowed City three efforts on target during the first 70 minutes.
Problem for the North Londoners was that every effort found the net beyond a far from convincing Hugo Lloris.
Highlights of the game
City were out to avenge a 2-0 reverse in November, the last time they lost a match, when Mourinho was at his vintage best.
They welcomed back Sergio Aguero to the bench after he missed 11 games for coronavirus-related reasons.
There were two other changes with Gabriel Jesus and Aymeric Laporte replacing Ruben Dias and Riyad Mahrez who joined Aguero on the bench.
Interestingly it meant City did have a recognised frontman after sometimes playing without an out and out striker yet managing to retain a fluid movement and attacking threat.
Gareth Bale was back on the Tottenham bench as Mourinho made three changes to the side that started the compelling 5-4 FA Cup defeat at Everton in midweek.
Harry Kane, Eric Dier and former England youth defender Japhet Tanganga all returned, the latter for his first Premier League appearance of the season, at the expense of Toby Alderweireld, Matt Doherty and Steven Bergwijn.
The record-breaking hosts had their sights set on Spurs and were intent on creating Premier League highlights from the outset.
However, after City controlled possession for the opening 10 minutes, a fine free-kick from Kane had Ederson beaten only to bounce off the post.
It was the closest they would come to scoring.
As the halfway point of the half approached, Gundogan was touched in the box by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and went down. A penalty was inevitable and Rodri struck the ball hard and low and, while Lloris got a touch, the ball flew into the roof of the net.
Gundogan was involved again just before the break with an effort blocked before a Joao Cancelo cutback was met by Jesus who clipped the top of the bar.
The man of the moment got the goal he deserved two minutes after the break, poking the ball past a hapless Lloris after the Raheem Sterling teamed up with young talent Phil Foden.
The game was up just over the hour as Gundogan held off Davinson Sanchez from an Ederson punt and rifled home the third.
Game over. Title race over?
Gundogan is the Premier League’s leading scorer in 2021 with nine goals in as many appearances.
He has 11 so far this season – the only German players to score more in a single season in the competition are Jurgen Klinsmann (20 – Spurs) and Uwe Rosler (15 – City), both in the 1994-95 campaign.
City have now equalled the club record of seven successive home clean sheets in all competitions, set from December 1946 to March 1947.
They are on a 16-match winning run in all competitions, a record for an English top-flight side, and are unbeaten in 23 since their 2-0 defeat by Tottenham in November. They have also only conceded three goals in their past 15 league games.
Only Leicester (10) have been awarded more penalties in the PL this season than City (7 – level with Man Utd and Chelsea)
Only West Ham (15) and Leeds (14) have hit the woodwork more times in the Premier League this season than Spurs (12).
Spurs have won just one of their past seven top-flight away fixtures (drawn three, lost three). They are winless in 25 away fixtures against the team starting the day top of the table since beating Blackburn in November 1992 (draw three, lost 22).
City have their league game in hand in midweek as they travel to Everton – a fixture initially postponed during the festive period due to a Covid outbreak in the camp. The SBOTOP Premier League betting odds will be in their favour to make it 17 wins in a row.
They then have another tough away match with a trip to Arsenal next Sunday (February 21).
It’s back to Europe for Spurs next as they face Austrians Wolfsberg (not to be confused with the Bundesliga club Wolfsburg) in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie which will be plated in Budapest.
A London derby then awaits very quickly with a short turnaround time before a Sunday lunchtime trip to face old foes West Ham.
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