Manchester City emphatically underlined their complete dominance of the Premier League on Saturday as they beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 to go 14 points clear at the top of the table.
A 16th straight Premier League win was secured with a first-half header from Ilkay Gundogan and further efforts after the break from Kevin De Bruyne and a double from Raheem Sterling, rendering Christian Eriksen’s stoppage-time goal a consolation.
The margin of victory and the performance from City, against a team considered potential rivals in pre-season, suggests it will take a series of unlikely outcomes for the title to go anywhere other than the Etihad Stadium.
While second-placed Manchester United can claw back three points at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, it seems all but a forlorn pursuit.
In the past six days, Pep Guardiola’s side have won against United at Old Trafford and then crushed Swansea City 4-0 in South Wales in midweek, yet there was no sense of complacency or tiredness as they faced another acid test.
With Leroy Sane’s speed a constant threat and De Bruyne capable of turning defence into attack with one perfectly precise pass, City looked barely troubled by the absence of David Silva, who was missing due to personal reasons.
Just as in the Manchester derby last week, City showed that for all their pretty football, they are also adept at taking a more basic route to goal and opened the scoring from a set piece.
Gundogan was left unmarked from a 14th minute Sane corner and the German’s stooping header flashed past Hugo Lloris in the Spurs goal.
The home side were bursting with attacking intent and sensed the opportunity to the kill game off early as Sergio Aguero had a low shot parried by Lloris with Sterling unable to keep his follow-up effort down.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino deserved credit for at least trying to take City on at their own attacking game, rather than following the example of so many other teams and merely seeking to nullify and frustrate the leaders.
Yet Harry Kane’s curling shot from the edge of the area in the 35th minute, which went just wide of Ederson’s left-hand post, was the nearest they came to scoring in the first half.
Spurs came out positively after the break, however, enjoying a spell of pressure and City’s Brazilian keeper had to make a superb save in the 55th minute to keep out another Kane attempt.
Guardiola took off Aguero and introduced Gabriel Jesus and while the Brazilian’s direct impact was minimal, City took total control following the switch.
De Bruyne blasted in the second in the 70th minute, after being picked out by Gundogan at the end of a counter-attack and five minutes later City missed a penalty when Jesus struck the post.
The third came 10 minutes from the end when Raheem Sterling tapped-in from close range after a typically devastating City counter-attack and the England forward added a fourth after a mistake from Eric Dier left him to cheekily round Lloris and slot home.
Eriksen scored an injury time consolation for Spurs with a fine solo effort but that was barely enough to interrupt the songs of celebration from the appreciative City supporters.