City's away form has one or two heavy creases -- it has been said more than once this season -- but if ever a team threatened to win the Premier League on home form alone, Manuel Pellegrini's 2013 vintage just might be it. Sunday's 6-0 demolition of Andre Villas-Boas' limp and bedazzled Tottenham side was one short of the seven popped past Norwich City last time out.
City thus have the two top wins of the season so far in the Premier League. Only the hapless legs of Brazilian Sandro stopped the entire goal avalanche having a thick Spanish accent, as Sergio Aguero and Jesus Navas weighed in with two each, and Alvaro Negredo, once more in barnstorming form, hit one and had another awarded as an own goal to Sandro after a spot of goal-line ankle pinball.
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For once, the overwhelming stats regarding possession that have seen City return astonishing figures in their favour and still get beaten at Aston Villa, Cardiff and Sunderland were turned to face the other way. In shipping six goals, Spurs had apparently managed to secure 53 percent of possession, but as commentator Paul Sarahs wrote on Twitter after the match, a good 20 percent of that may well have been used by Hugo Lloris retrieving the ball from the back of the net.
Spurs had 53% of the ball in that game, but 20% of that was Lloris picking it out the back of the net.— Paul Sarahs (@PaulSarahs) November 24, 2013
City's brand of swift interchanging of passes and direct one-touch football, which needs the most skilled players to work, mesmerised Spurs from the very start. With Navas curling in the opener after 13 seconds, Tottenham were facing an uphill task before they had even broken into a proper sweat. "Our head was gone after the first goal," a pale Villas-Boas said afterward. Some might have said it was a little early to withdraw from the competition, at least mentally.
This City side, with its quicksilver feet and sharp eye for angles, proceeded to rip through Spurs like there was no tomorrow, feeding more bewildering images to all those befuddled minds that have not yet come to terms with a team that can do this at home:
Manchester United 4-1 (stopped trying after 60 minutes)
CSKA Moscow 5-2
... but can also cook up this away from home:
Aston Villa 2-3
Cardiff City 2-3
Hull City's feat of losing 0-2 at the Etihad in September is now beginning to look like one of the performances of the season.
Certainly, a Spurs side containing £26 million Roberto Soldado (who was it that had questioned City's choice of Negredo over Soldado? Whoever it had been, his voice is small and weak as the winter approaches) and £30 million Erik Lamela were expected to be an interesting yardstick upon which to measure City's 2013-14 ambitions. On the face of what transpired over 94 scintillating minutes of Manchester City hopscotch, either Tottenham have been vastly overrated and, without Gareth Bale, are a very ordinary side indeed, or City are heading for a season that will be long remembered by the good folk of Manchester. The truth, as ever, probably lies somewhere in between, with this correspondent leaning ever so slightly toward the latter for obvious reasons.
Here was collective energy, collective thinking and collective support, backed up with all the delight of countless moments of individual brilliance. Within a tight team ethic, the sheer beauty of self-indulgent moments of brilliance are being allowed to flourish. As if to underline this, we watched in awe as Samir Nasri conducted his own personal master class of feints and flicks, body swerves and taps (who would have begrudged him a goal as he swerved a toe poke over Lloris and onto the crossbar?), as Aguero -- playing himself not only to the top of the scoring charts but also into the elite cloudless skies of the best three or four players on the planet -- gave his own master class of balance, thrust, power and lethal finishing.
What a sight the Argentine is in this form, his low centre of gravity reminding watchers of countryman Diego Maradona, making it almost impossible to knock him off the ball or dispossess him by foul means or fair. By the time 60 minutes were on the clock, Tottenham's players had conceded their inferiority by resorting to fouls. It seemed their only chance of getting the ball back for long periods of play.
City must now plough on. Confidence is rocketing, and the summit of the Premier League is still within clear sight. Two more home games come next, against Plzen and Swansea, before a tricky trip to West Brom. By then, the likes of Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Stevan Jovetic may be ready to rejoin the ranks, swelling this team's capacity to overwhelm ever upward.
Once those creases have been straightened out in City's oddly threadbare away record (only four of the 22 points garnered thus far have come outside the Etihad), Manchester City can be considered fit for an assault on the very top of the league.