Manchester City scorched to the top of the Premier League with a ruthless 5-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur as Chelsea’s title ambitions were hit by a 0-0 home draw with West Ham United on Wednesday.
Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic and Vincent Kompany were on target as City followed their 6-0 thrashing of Spurs in the reverse fixture this season with another thrilling exhibition of attacking football.
They were helped on their way by a controversial decision to send off Tottenham defender Danny Rose for a foul on Dzeko, for which City were awarded the penalty which Toure converted for the second goal.
Yet they ruthlessly exploited the extra man to move to 53 points, one clear of Arsenal and three ahead of Chelsea, who were frustrated by a fiercely resilient West Ham side at Stamford Bridge.
Aston Villa emerged with the spoils from the night’s most entertaining fixture, edging a seven-goal thriller 4-3 against midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion having fallen 2-0 down after nine minutes.
Sunderland eased their worries by moving out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win over Stoke City.
Manchester City’s mauling of Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium in November was the trigger for an unbeaten run that now stands at 20 games in all competitions.
Confidence was clearly bubbling to the surface as they began with the swagger of potential title winners, putting their foot on Tottenham’s throat with their high-tempo pressing.
Aguero, who later hobbled off with a hamstring injury, broke the deadlock after 15 minutes by sliding a precise finish past Hugo Lloris after David Silva had picked out his run with a delicate throughball.
It was his 50th Premier League goal and ensured he became the fifth fastest to reach the milestone behind Andy Cole, Alan Shearer, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Fernando Torres.
Tottenham felt aggrieved to have a goal chalked off as Michael Dawson was adjudged offside when side-footing in a Christian Eriksen free kick, but their annoyance was multiplied when City doubled their lead.
Rose dived in from behind to tackle Dzeko and appeared to take the ball but the linesman flagged for a penalty, the Tottenham defender was dismissed and Toure sweetly slammed home from the penalty spot.
The third followed almost immediately when Dzeko pounced on a rebound to score his seventh goal in six games, and despite Etienne Capoue briefly raising the home fans’ spirits with a consolation, there was more misery to follow.
Jovetic, Aguero’s replacement, scored his first Premier League goal when he cut inside and curled the ball past Lloris and Kompany showed quick reflexes to add a fifth when a Dzeko shot cannoned off continued…