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Tottenham 1-5 Manchester City : Slick City move to Premier League summit
This season's Premier League title race has been somewhat similar to a bout of musical chairs, contested by Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. And it was the latter which moved into the ascendancy after Pellegrini's side tore Tottenham controversially to shreds at White Hart Lane after Arsenal and Chelsea had dropped points. However, City could be glued to the chair until May on this evidence.
Tottenham were unable to contend with Man City's electric tempo and high-pressing, causing the London club a number of adversities in the first half and hour. City aired a much more refined fragrance of threat compared to their Champions League hopeful opponents, and were rewarded for their efforts after striker Sergio Aguero scored for the eighth game running to give City a crucial lead which would eventually see them claim topspot and secure their eighth successive Premier League victory. The Argentine forward clinically dinked the ball over the on-rushing Hugo Lloris, but the 25 year-old's delight was tempered by a hamstring injury sustained soon after and was replaced by Stevan Jovetic, City's forgotten man.
Controversial decisions followed before a Yaya Toure penalty all but sealed three points against a Spurs side reduced to ten-men.
Linesman Scott Ledger adjudged Spurs captain Michael Dawson to be off-side, wrongly the replay show, after the 30 year-old volleyed the ball into the net. It would have been the equaliser and it is fair to say it had a big impact on the outcome of the game.
And six minutes into the second-half, Man City were awarded a debatable penalty in controversial fashion after Danny Rose seemed to have made contact with the ball rather than City striker Edin Dzeko before the former Sunderland loanee was sent-off, with Yaya Toure convincingly converting from the spot-kick.
City were threatening to run riot and blitz Spurs into oblivion, in a similar manner to their 6-0 dispatching of Sherwood's side in November, after Dzeko added a third, before substitute Etienne Capoue pulled one back for Spurs. However, there was still time for Stevan Jovetic, a £22m signing from Fiorentina in the summer whose maiden season in England has been marred by frequent injury problems, to score his first Manchester City goal.
The annihilation was Tim Sherwood's first Premier League defeat since taking the reigns in December, after the former Blackburn midfielder had guided Tottenham to 16 points of a possible 18, with the 1-1 draw home to West Brom on Boxing Day the only lapse. I've heard the fixtures have been kind to Sherwood, with the away assignments to Manchester United and Arsenal (FA Cup) the only real tricky fixtures, but Wednesday night was always going to be an up-hill challenge, accelerated when both of your midfield duo have an off-day.
19 year-old Nabil Bentaleb and Belgium international Moussa Dembele were imperative to any chance Spurs stood against this rampant Manchester City side. However, the duo seemed somewhat unsettled by the high-pressing game employed by Pellegrini as the likes of Fernandinho and Toure forced them into playing mis-placed passes, declining Spurs the opportunity for their play to ever flow. It was a complication which formed only a part of the adversities faced by Tottenham as they struggled to cope with City's relentless attacking prowess.
In what was a first half-and hour of utterly majestic City football, David Silva was pulling the strings in the core of Pellegrini's midfield as City merited more from the score-line. The little Spaniard was absolutely unplayable as he found small pockets of space with Spurs leaving him un-marked, only for the 28 year-old, who has amassed 77 caps for Spain, to deliver a strong blow as he fed Sergio Aguero in the build-up to the opening goal.
Nonetheless, Pellegrini's gratification will be tempered due to an injury to the prolific Aguero, who is becoming somewhat of a phenomenon, and the Argentine could face a spell on the sidelines and faces the prospect of missing Monday night's huge game home to title rivals Chelsea.
However, Jose Mourinho's side and Arsenal will have their work cut out to displace City from the Premier League summit with their imperious home record and free-scoring habits instilling fear into their rivals. Monday night will inevitably be interesting, with Mourinho having kept Man United and Arsenal at bay and played out 0-0 draws at Old Trafford and the Emirates, can the best of all managers keep this merciless City side out. We'll have to wait and see.
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