Tottenham were the only top-six contenders Manchester City had yet to play this season, having beaten all the others. The future Premier League champions sliced open Tottenham time and time again at the Etihad in what turned into a celebration for the Citizens.
Spurs fans seemed generally pleased upon the release of the starting XI, likely down to the lack of Moussa Sissoko and the retention of Danny Rose in the lineup from midweek. Mauricio Pochettino is borderline ritualistic when it comes to rotating fullbacks, but perhaps he realized that City’s pace on the flanks was going to cause Ben Davies problems. But it turned out to be the other fullback, Kieran Trippier, who would be the weak link in the team Saturday.
City attacked Trippier consistently and relentlessly throughout the first half. Leroy Sane drove at him with and without the ball, ghosting by him seemingly at will. Sane created City’s first major chance of the game by scooting by Trippier in the ninth minute and drilling a low cross across the box.
Spurs struggled to grab a foothold in the game, and were often forced to bypass its creative midfielders in an attempt to play Harry Kane in behind City’s defense. City’s press absolutely suffocated Harry Winks in midfield, and constantly forced errant passes and rushed play.
It’s amazing that despite City’s dominance in the first half, they only scored once from a basic corner kick. Ilkay Gundogan found himself free in the middle of the box after Harry Winks failed to track him, and the German headed home to give the home side the advantage in the 11th minute.
Spurs did in fact manage a few threats toward City. In the 23rd minute, Winks played Danny Rose into space with Dele Alli running behind City’s back line into the box, but Rose skied his cross. City replied immediately with a quick goal kick and a counter. Sergio Aguero had a prime scoring chance, but was denied by Lloris. The rebound fell to Sterling who skied a great chance to double City’s advantage. This was the story of Tottenham’s attacks — every chance they created was immediately countered by City.
In the 35th minute, Kane came close to leveling for Tottenham with a long-ranged curling shot that went inches wide of the back post. Minutes later, Nicolas Otamendi kicked Harry Kane directly in the face over his left eye, but the defender escaped with only a yellow card.
Spurs’ final chance of the first half came in the 44th minute. Dele Alli played Heung Min Son into space with a creative backheel flick, but the eventual cross couldn’t be controlled by Kane.
The second half started better for Tottenham as they put together a couple of decent attacking moves, and seemed to gain the foothold in the game they so desperately needed. Kane forced Ederson into a sprawling save in the 55th minute with a shot rocketed off the laces from the top of the box.
City created another great chance in the 66th minute against the run of play that should’ve added to its lead. Sane again burst past Trippier, but his close-ranged shot was directly at Lloris. Gabriel Jesus’s mishit the follow up from only four yards away over the bar.
Moments later, Dele Alli was lucky not to be sent off when he put in a high challenge on Kevin De Bruyne that left the Belgian lucky to not be seriously injured. De Bruyne got his revenge though almost immediately finally doubling City’s lead with a shot from an area where Tripper should’ve been. Instead, Tripper was ten yards behind the play.
Things unraveled quickly from there. Vertonghen fouled De Bruyne in the box in the 75th minute, but Jesus hit the bar on the penalty and Raheem Sterling could not follow up on the rebound. In the 80th minute, Trippier’s corpse was burned once again by Sane who crossed easily for Sterling to tap home to make it 3-0. Sterling scored another in the waning moments of the match to make it 4-0.
Christian Eriksen also scored a meaningless goal in the final moments. It was surely the saddest goal he’s ever scored.