Rivals No More: Guardiola & Mourinho Heading In Opposite Directions As Man City Sweep Spurs Aside

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The Premier League leaders are now seven points clear at the top of the table after an impressively easy 3-0 victory over Tottenham at the Etihad 

Manchester City 3-0 Tottenham: Match statistics

If Jose Mourinho cannot stop Manchester City, you have to wonder if anyone can.

The Tottenham manager could always be relied upon to find a way of upsetting Pep Guardiola’s attacking football and trip up an expected march to success.

However, on Saturday evening, there was never any sign of Mourinho ending City’s winning streak, which has now been extended to 16 matches in all competitions thanks to a comfortable 3-0 victory at the Etihad.

This was the biggest winning margin between the two coaching greats since Guardiola’s era-defining Barcelona side thrashed Real Madrid 5-0 at Camp Nou in 2010, and it seems unlikely that Mourinho will recover as he did back then, when the Portuguese went on to inspire los Blancos to Liga glory two years later. 

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Their rivalry has been one of the most enchanting subplots of European football in recent times and this was another classic example of their clash of styles.

City dominated possession and played in their opponents’ half as they tried to prize open a heavily-manned backline. Mourinho loaded his side with defensively minded players, hoping to exploit the pace of his attackers on the break to spring a surprise win.

The visitors’ approach caused some problems early on, with the influential Ruben Dias left on the bench – alongside a returning Sergio Aguero – and Aymeric Laporte given a chance to stake his claim for a regular starting spot.

Harry Kane slammed a brilliant free-kick off the post but that was as close as Spurs would come to scoring.

In fairness, City’s 23rd-minute breakthrough from the penalty spot was slightly fortunate, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg clipping Ilkay Gundogan after he had miscontrolled a pass in the box.

After missing three of their seven spot-kicks this season, the penalty-taker wheel of fortune stopped on Rodri and the Spaniard was relieved to see his effort squeeze in off Hugo Lloris’ outstretched hand.

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Everyone else, though, was slightly disappointed that Ederson didn’t get his turn, given the Brazilian goalkeeper had sprinted to the halfway line to make his case for selection.

If Lloris was unlucky not to save the penalty, he was certainly culpable for City’s second when he was beaten by Gundogan’s low shot at his near-post, after a dynamic run from Raheem Sterling.

His opposite number Ederson, meanwhile, was still bursting to get involved in the game and his moment came in the 66th minute when he was involved in City’s superb third goal.

He drilled an incredible 70-yard pass to assist Gundogan, although the German’s finish was exquisite, as he turned inside Davinson Sanchez and finished emphatically.

Mourinho paced his technical area in frustration but this time the two-time Champions League winner couldn’t come up with any answers.

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He actually went into the game having beaten his old foe in successive games for the first time in their 12-year conflict. But their managerial careers are clearly heading in opposite directions and you wonder if they will ever be true rivals again.

City’s victory takes them 17 points above Spurs, as well as seven points clear at the top of the Premier League. Indeed, it’s telling that the once-famous animosity between the pair has almost completely faded away.

Ahead of kick-off, Mourinho waited patiently in the tunnel for the City boss and gave him an effusive fist bump and pat on the back which was full of respect.

Of course, Mourinho will have a shot at revenge when these two sides meet again at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final in April

However, one of football’s greatest rivalries is starting to peter out, as underlined by this startingly facile victory for Guardiola’s City.

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