Man City return to the top with emphatic win over 10 man Spurs
Manchester City usurped Arsenal at the top of the table after emphatically ending Tottenham's unbeaten Premier League run under Tim Sherwood.
As each match goes by, Manuel Pellegrini's men look increasingly capable of making a serious challenge at an unparalleled quadruple.
The 5-1 defeat of 10-man Tottenham was City's 18th win in a 20-match unbeaten run in all competitions, which started with City's 6-0 demolition of Spurs in November.
Spurs were on the end of another embarrassing hiding this evening as Sherwood tasted defeat for the first time in his seven Premier League games at the helm.
Just four minutes were on the clock when Sergio Aguero struck the post - a warning the hosts failed to heed as in the 15th minute he latched onto a David Silva through-ball to direct past Hugo Lloris.
Remarkably, it was the Argentina international's seventh goal in his five appearances since returning from a calf injury and one he looked likely to add to until he limped off late in the first half.
By that point, Spurs were in the ascendancy and thought they had levelled when Michael Dawson turned in a Christian Eriksen free-kick - only for the goal to be chalked off for offside.
Spurs had a further decision to rue moments into the second half, with Danny Rose controversially sent off by referee Andre Marriner for taking down Edin Dzeko in the box.
Yaya Toure slotted home the resulting spot-kick and City extended their lead in the 53rd minute, with Dzeko netting his sixth goal in as many matches against Tottenham.
Sherwood's men attempted to regroup and did pull one back through substitute Etienne Capoue, but City struck again through a replacement of their own, Stevan Jovetic, and captain Vincent Kompany to head into a tough-looking February top of the pile.
The visitors' movement and attacking intent gave Spurs little time to settle and after just four minutes they hit the post.
Collecting a Fernandinho pass on the edge of the box, Aguero darted past Dawson and continued to drift past Vlad Chiriches before firing a strike from an acute angle that came back off the far post.
It was all too easy for City and Dzeko headed wide soon after, before then playing a one-two his strike partner, cutting past Kyle Walker and sending a fierce attempt over.
Spurs looked dumbfounded by the early intensity and it was no surprise when Pellegrini's men drew first blood.
With 15 minutes on the clock, Aguero raced between Spurs' centre-backs and met a fine Silva through-ball with a delicious finish past the onrushing Lloris.
Such was City's dominance that it was not until the 18th minute that Sherwood's men managed to eke out their first opportunity, with Emmanuel Adebayor seeing an attempt on goal crowded out.
Joe Hart prevented Kompany turning into his own goal from the resulting corner, before Tottenham were forced back again with only a superb one-handed save from Lloris preventing Aguero directing home a header.
The striker was soon proving a nuisance again and saw a header cleared off the line by Rose, before collecting the ball and flashing an effort just over.
Silva's effort deflected wide and Dzeko saw handball appeals waved away soon after, before Tottenham began to at long last assert themselves.
Nabil Bentaleb glanced an Eriksen corner wide, with the Denmark midfielder sending in a free-kick soon after from which White Hart Lane erupted.
After Pablo Zabaleta was adjudged to have fouled Rose, Eriksen's fierce set-piece was bundled in at the back post by Dawson - only for the assistant to rule the goal out for offside.
It was a close call and one that did not stop Spurs' search for a leveller, with Mousa Dembele striking just wide from the edge of the box.
Aguero was replaced by Jovetic late in the first half after taking a knock and Capoue came on for Dembele when the teams re-emerged after the break, when Spurs' hopes of a comeback were soon extinguished.
Just minutes after play resumed, Rose's clumsy challenge on Dzeko resulted in referee Marriner, having looked at his assistant for clarification, awarding a spot-kick.
The left-back was handed a straight red card despite him making contact with the ball, with Toure stepping up to send Lloris the wrong way from the spot.
The home fans were furious and saw their side fall further behind in the 53rd minute. Silva saw a strike come back off the post after clever play and Chiriches' poor clearance fell kindly for Dzeko to net.
"We want six" chanted the away support but Spurs were next to score as substitute Capoue turned past Joe Hart from a corner.
It raised the volume inside White Hart Lane but only for a few minutes as City quickly regrouped.
After Toure limped off, aided by a push off the field by Adebayor, Dzeko scooped wide before City extended their lead in the 78th minute when Jovetic saw his strike ripple the net via a slight deflection off Chiriches.
Jovetic failed to turn home before Aleksandar Kolarov's strike was deflected wide as City pushed for a fifth, which came when Kompany prodded home from close range.