Unstoppable Manchester City brush aside Spurs for 16th straight Prem win
MANCHESTER -- Three quick thoughts from Manchester City's 4-1 Premier League win over Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
1. Unstoppable City brush aside Spurs
Manchester City extended their record winning run to 16 successive Premier League victories by brushing Tottenham aside 4-1 at the Etihad, moving 14 points clear at the top of table in the process.
Such was City's dominance, even a missed penalty by Gabriel Jesus in the second half could not halt their incredible run, which is likely to go on even further, with games against Bournemouth and Newcastle next up over the festive period.
Goals by Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and two late strikes by Raheem Sterling sealed the win for City, which inflicted Tottenham's biggest league defeat since May 2016.
A week after winning at Old Trafford, the superlatives are beginning to run out for Pep Guardiola's team.
It now seems not a question of if they will win the title -- the club's third in six years -- but when they will do it and whether they will suffer a defeat between now and May.
Will they become the first Premier League team to record 100 points? Can their winning run become the longest in any major European league? Can they win more than the title? Can they eclipse United's 1999 Treble triumph by achieving a clean sweep of the four trophies they are competing for this season?
The only certainty is that it will take a formidable team to beat them.
2. Time to hail City's defence
If Manchester City had lined up last season with Fabian Delph at left-back, alongside Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi at centre-half, Pep Guardiola's logic would have been questioned and City's opponents would have sensed an opportunity take full advantage.
For too long, any City back four without Vincent Kompany has been regarded as a potential weak link, but no more.
City's attacking quality is without question, as their goals-for column proves, but they have also conceded a mere 12 goals in the Premier League this season -- the same as Manchester United -- and they look rock solid, no matter who is playing in front of goalkeeper Ederson.
Kompany has started just seven league games this season, so City have learned how to cope without their injury-prone captain, but it is the players who are performing so well that is the surprise.
Delph's evolution from a defensive midfielder into a left-back has been one of the surprises of the season, while Otamendi's ability to overcome the rash side of his game has also been notable.
Yet the biggest revelation has been Mangala's return from the wilderness. The £42 million buy from Porto was told he had no future at the club by Guardiola in the summer and was all set to sign for Crystal Palace until he rejected the move on deadline day.
Injuries to Kompany, John Stones and Benjamin Mendy have opened the door for the French defender, though, and Guardiola now trusts him to play in his team.
Mangala has pace, athleticism and strength; he just lacks the concentration levels required at the highest level. But if Guardiola can turn Delph into a full-back, perhaps he can also make Mangala realise his potential at City.
3. Full-backs cause headaches for Pochettino
One of Tottenham's biggest strengths last season was their quality at full-back, but standards have slipped this term. Both defensively and going forward, Mauricio Pochettino arguably possessed the best options in the Premier League at right-back and left-back last season.
Kieran Trippier's progress kept Kyle Walker out of the team and led to Pochettino sanctioning the latter's £50m transfer to City, while Ben Davies proved a reliable replacement for Danny Rose once the England left-back succumbed to injury at the end of January.
But last season's strength has become this season's weakness, with both positions now a cause of concern -- among many others -- for Pochettino.
Down the right, Trippier is a shadow of the player who ended Walker's Spurs career, and he was exposed time and against by the impressive Leroy Sane in this game. Trippier's strongest card is his attacking ability, he has always been less eye-catching defensively, but he was made to look distinctly average by Sane.
Serge Aurier, signed from Paris Saint-Germain to replace Walker, has proven a poor signing, with his recklessness enabling Trippier to keep his place.
On the left side, Rose has returned to the team after injury, but his fitness and focus still look short of the required levels. Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne both targeted him in this game, and it was clear that Pep Guardiola's tactics involved attacking both full-backs to exploit their weaknesses.
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_