Nothing epitomised the confidence coursing through this relentless Manchester City side quite like their third goal. Ederson, frustrated not to have been given the chance to take an earlier penalty, managed the next best thing by spearing a stunning 90-yard pass on to the toe of Ilkay Gundogan and, from there, City’s man of the moment twisted the knife into a tired, demoralised Tottenham Hotspur by exhibiting all the ruthless nonchalance of a 30-goal-a-season striker.
One touch to kill the ball, another to cut inside poor Davinson Sanchez after bumping the Spurs defender aside and then a serene left-foot finish low into the corner that wrongfooted Hugo Lloris. Gundogan was mobbed by team-mates at one end and a beaming Ederson, revelling in his splendid assist, by blue shirts at the other.
Having got the ball rolling for City by winning what Jose Mourinho witheringly described as a “modern penalty”, this was the Germany midfelder’s second goal of the night and 11th in his past 12 Premier League outings and earned City a record-equalling ninth consecutive top flight win. Only Bolton Wanderers, in 1906, and Manchester United, 12 years ago, have achieved that before. All told, City - unbeaten in 23 matches now - have won 16 games on the bounce in all competitions.
Tottenham were top of the Premier League, five points clear of a City side languishing in ninth position, the last time these two teams met in early November but their trajectories have been diametrically opposed ever since and this mismatch merely reaffirmed why the gulf - in quality and points - is now so great.
Victory moved City seven points ahead of Leicester at the top, with a game still in hand, and 17 clear of Spurs, who, after a fourth defeat in five in the competition, are watching their Champions League hopes fade by the week.
Mourinho felt Wednesday’s extra-time FA Cup defeat at Everton had sapped his team of energy, and, unhappy with the scheduling, claimed this fixture should have been played on Sunday. He also appeared to set aside any differences he may have had with Gareth Bale this week to introduce the Wales forward with 18 minutes remaining and offer an olive branch to him and another substitute and outcast, Dele Alli, by insisting they were “welcome if they consider themselves physically and mentally ready” to play. Yet even a fully fit and in form Bale and Alli might have struggled to dent City’s armoury.
Tottenham were the last team to beat City and, on the evidence of recent months, it is going to take something extraordinary to prevent Pep Guardiola’s side from sauntering to a third title in four seasons. They were without their defensive rock Ruben Dias and talisman Kevin De Bruyne but it made no difference. The only sour note was the sight of Gundogan being substituted after complaining of a tight groin that will require assessment.
“We don’t have [Lionel] Messi, Cristiano [Ronaldo], Bale, Neymar, we don’t have these type of players who can win a game [on their own] but they know it,” Guardiola said. “I told them many times that we have to do it as a team.”
For such a technically accomplished side, though, it is odd that they have proven so profligate from 12 yards, to the point where Ederson briefly seemed hopeful that his moment to get on the scoresheet had arrived when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg tripped Gundogan.
Gabriel Jesus had slipped the ball in behind Hojbjerg and the Tottenham midfielder, scrambling back, clipped Gundogan’s ankle as the German motioned to turn. Mourinho - who has previously accused City’s players of going to ground too easily - claimed it was a “modern penalty”, one where “even if you are touched by a nail it can be a penalty”.
Ederson looked like a dog straining on a leash as he waited for the green light only for Bernardo to eventually rush back towards the centre circle to inform the disappointed goalkeeper that, in this instance, his services would not be needed.
Instead, the responsibility fell, somewhat surprisingly, to Rodri, City’s seventh different penalty taker in the top flight since the start of last season - an indication of just how much trouble they have had from the spot. Indeed, City had missed eight of their previous 17 penalties in the league before this, including last weekend’s failure by Gundogan against Liverpool.
But while Rodri scored and insisted he would be taking the next one, it was a poor penalty that bounced in somewhat fortuitously off Lloris’ arm and Guardiola’s reaction afterwards was telling. “I love the courage but he was not a good taker,” the Catalan said. “I have to reflect because we have the Champions League coming up.”
What about Ederson? “If he can play that pass from 70 yards, he can shoot from 12,” Guardiola said. “His quality of shot is good. But penalties are different. I need to think.”
Tottenham had come closest to breaking the deadlock before Rodri’s penalty after Harry Kane crashed a free-kick off the inside of a post and that was about as good as it got for the visitors. Joao Cancelo, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo and, of course, Gundogan all impressed for City while, at the back, the imperious John Stones made light of Dias’s absence.
Gundogan’s toed finish for his first goal seemed to throw Lloris, who watched the ball creep in off the underside of his right hand, but Sterling had raced unchecked across the 18-yard box and there was no pressure on the ball during the subsequent interchange of passes that created the space for Gundogan.
Then came the icing on the cake when Ederson and Gundogan combined for that delicious third. Catch City if you can.
88 mins - Man City 3 Spurs 0
The thing with Dele Alli is that Mourinho's defensive systems require players who can come up with a bit of magic on their own and he is exactly that sort of attacker. The rest of the grinds games down, the creator conjures something to win the match, everyone leaves happy. Instead, his supposed lack of defensive effort or lazy training style is preventing Spurs from having someone capable of that.
82 mins - Man City 3 Spurs 0
Oh wow that was magic. Bale is able to beat three Man City defenders with brilliant footwork on the edge of the area, opening up the space for a shot... which he launches at goal but Ederson saves. That is outstanding. Why wasn't he playing earlier? Seems like a good player.
GUNDOGAN SCORES AGAIN!
Man City 3 Spurs 0
City have been tapping the ball around but it's an absolute dream of a long ball from Ederson from inside his own box, Gundogan easily muscles Sanchez off the ball, who is all over the place and falls over as if he's just stepped off the waltzer, giving Gundogan the chance to finish.
Man City 2 Spurs 0
Sterling is able to dribble past just about every Spurs defender inside the box as runs across it, then just slips a little pass inside to Gundoga, who takes a touch and wrongfoots Lloris with a toe poke. Again, the goalie should save it!
43 mins - Man City 1 Spurs 0
Sky Sports have just shown a graphic telling us that there's only been one shot on target and that was the penalty.
Immediately after it looks like City are about to change that! Sterling gets in behind Davies, Gundogan is blocked inside six yards, and Jesus shoots juuuuuuust over the bar from the penalty spot.
39 mins - Man City 1 Spurs 0
Foden has moved out to the left wing to take on Tanganga, with Sterling on the right now. Spurs really struggling to break out from the back.
Jesus has basically scissor tackled Lamela, from behind, and nothing seems to have come of it. The two players don't seem to like each other very much. They're squaring up now after being talked to by the referee.
33 mins - Man City 1 Spurs 0
The movement by City players off the ball in this latest attack is amazing. The full-back comes inside to attack through the middle, Sterling peels off wide and that opens up space for him to cut inside and thread it into Bernardo, who enjoys the space created by another player darting away to drag a defender out of position. The shot is deflected and bounces into Lloris' gloves but it's so nice to watch. Even a well drilled Spurs defence are struggling to deal with it at times.
21 mins - Man City 0 Tottenham 0
Lamela is playing well today. Has been carrying the ball forward and dragging defenders with him. He's a weird player and one I can never quite work out - he looks like a really technical kind of 10 but rarely seems to create or score and ends up playing like a ball winning midfielder, but an advanced one. He's clearly good but I can't tell how good.
18 mins - Man City 0 Tottenham 0
Bernardo Silva is definitely tripped while trying to dribble past a couple of Spurs defenders but the referee doesn't care and Spurs break up the other end. The replay shows it was a clear foul. Imagine Spurs had scored... would Var have ruled it out because of the missed free-kick for City?
9 mins - Man City 0 Tottenham 0
Ndombele is such a good player and could be the key to Spurs' counter-attacking game working. He's able to dance past players, beating defenders with a turn of pace or little dropped sholder, and has just managed to get all the way into the City box before being crowded out.
Why no Dias?
"Ruben didn't train last week, he had the fever and didn't feel good. Aymeric played really well at Swansea."
Mourinho on how Spurs have a more difficult task and how everything is against them etc:
"I don't want to think about it because there is no point. That's the way it is, it was a very difficult match. If you want to compare City task and our task midweek in the cup it cannot compare. I don't want to think about it. The players are going to give everything. And then another game on Thursday. I was telling the players this is the last effort. The last effort."
Man City vs Tottenham
Hello there! And welcome to our coverage of Saturday evening's big game (sorry Brighton and Villa fans) between a side who will probably win the league and another who for a few weeks looked like they might be able to compete with. Tottenham have been pretty horrible to watch the last few weeks and the fans are beginning to grow impatient. Isn't it meant to be better than this? Meanwhile, City have clearly fooled everyone into thinking they were in decline. It has become abundantly clear that this was never the case.
Here are the teams for today's game:
For some reason Dias is on the bench today, but that may just be clever squad rotation. City have two games this week and he's played a lot of matches since joining already. Laporte starts next to Stones.
Spurs are in a 4-2-3-1 and I suspect will look to hurt City on the counter. Grind the game down, foul players at half way, shut the defensive third down. That'll be the game plan.
One player who isn't involved is Gareth Bale, who isn't the player we may remember from a few days ago. This is what Mourinho has said about his social media posts:
"Since the beginning of the season in relationship to everything, I try to be very private and try to keep everything indoors, but I felt I needed to address the situation.
"The post was not even his responsibility, I don't know. But the post was showing 'training session great and I am ready' and was totally wrong.
"He had a scan, the scan didn't show an injury but his feelings were still there and coaches, sports science and medical people, we can never go against feelings because the player's feelings are much more important than all of us.
"So he was not ready for the game. It is as simple as that."
Kick is 5:30, stay with us for live updates throughout!