Even Aguero's fragility can't halt Manchester City's title charge

Manuel Pellegrini's side went top of the Premier League with a thumping 5-1 win at 10-man Tottenham on Wednesday - and the only downside was the hamstring injury to their star man
By Greg Stobart at White Hart Lane

Manchester City are now top of the Premier League and it would be a surprise if they do not stay there until the end of the season.

The thumping 5-1 victory at Tottenham on Wednesday night moved City one point ahead of Arsenal at the summit of the table, but the gap between Manuel Pellegrini’s side and everyone else feels huge.

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Tim Sherwood, the downtrodden Spurs manager, summed it up after watching City smash five goals past his 10-man side on the back of their 6-0 thrashing of the Londoners in the reverse fixture in November.

"This team are the best team in the league by a country mile," said Sherwood. "I just think these guys are on a different planet to anything else in the league.

"Without question, they are the champions of the league. Unfortunately for everyone they play, they don’t just score one and shut up shop, they keep coming at you.

"You want someone like this team to go on and win it because they entertain. It’s not good for an opposition manager, believe me, but they put you to the sword and that’s how football should be played."

Different planet, indeed. City could actually cruise to the title now, having ironed out their early season problems away from home. They are playing with movement, dynamism and quality only matched by the very best in Europe.

The only bad news for City at White Hart Lane was the hamstring injury that forced off Sergio Aguero just before half-time, when the Argentine had looked in unstoppable form.

Aguero has already scored 26 goals in all competitions this season - 15 in the Premier League - and could have had a first-half hat-trick here as he twisted the Tottenham defenders inside out.

He smashed a shot against the post at the end of a beautiful solo run, forced Hugo Lloris into one of the saves of the season with a powerful header and opened the scoring with an expertly timed run and dinked finish.

City’s doctors will assess Aguero’s injury on Thursday but the striker seemed optimistic when he messaged fans on Twitter.

He Tweeted: "I felt some pain in my right hamstring and left just as a precaution. My studies will tell me the degree of the injury.

"It’s a pity about the injury but it’s easier knowing that we are on top. I hope I get back out on the field soon to keep helping the team."

Aguero has just returned from a month out with a calf problem and City will do everything they can to get him back on the pitch with huge matches on the horizon against Chelsea and Barcelona.

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While City are an awesome force, Aguero is their X-factor in attack, the special player who can make the difference in the tight games and the big moments - just as he did when he fired the club to their first title in 44 years with virtually the last kick of the season in 2012.

His injury setbacks will concern City as they target an historic quadruple this season.

They certainly need the 25-year-old back for their Champions League last 16 games against Barcelona, which will provide a true barometer of City’s current level.

But even without Aguero, few Premier League teams pose any problems.

Their level dipped after Aguero’s departure on Wednesday night but City still went on to score four second-half goals.

A poor refereeing decision to send off Tottenham left-back Danny Rose and award City a penalty almost seemed irrelevant. Sherwood certainly didn’t look to use the incident as an excuse for a comprehensive defeat against the team he’s convinced will become champions.

The red card ended any hopes Tottenham may have held of getting back into the game, but the final scoreline reflected City’s dominance from first to last minute.

A point ahead of second-placed Arsenal with 15 games to play, there is a long way to go in the title race. But even without Aguero, City look there to stay.