Manchester City leapfrogged Arsenal last night to return to the top of the Barclays Premier League.

The preceding 90 minutes inside White Hart Lane had comprised little more than a run up, Tottenham Hotspur the latest team to be beaten brutally by Manuel Pellegrini's men. Spurs would be made a statistic in the league leaders' run of 20 matches unbeaten.

As each match goes by, City seem increasingly capable of making a serious go of winning four trophies this term. They were all business in London last night as they put five past a Spurs team which they had thumped 6-0 back in November. That result was the first in City's seemingly inexorable run of form.

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It would sting for Tottenham, not least since the side had been unbeaten in seven league matches under Tim Sherwood. His side would be bruised after just 15 minutes, when Sergio Aguero scored his seventh goal in five appearances since he returned from injury. The City striker had kissed the post with a shot after just four minutes but would not wait long to caress the opening goal past Hugo Lloris, after racing on to a neat pass from David Silva.

Aguero would limp off just before half-time but, typically, City never looked outgunned. The score might have been level, though, with Michael Dawson turning in a free-kick from Christian Eriksen only for the goal to be chalked off for offside. It was a point of contention since television images later suggested that the goal should have stood after Dawson timed his run well at the back post.

Spurs had a further decision to rue moments into the second half, with Danny Rose sent off controversially by referee Andre Marriner. The defender was adjudged to have taken down Edin Dzeko in the penalty area and Yaya Toure showed little sympathy for the home side as he slotted in City's second goal of the night with aplomb.

Two minutes later and Dzeko gave City a three-goal cushion. It was one which the visitors relaxed into and they did not seem terribly perturbed when substitute Etienne Capoue pulled a goal back for Spurs just six minutes later. City have become content simply to shoot first and ask questions of the defending later.

They hit the net five times last night, but it was their steady authority and overwhelming intent which will be most threatening to their title rivals. Arsenal are just one point below in the league table but appear much further behind when it comes to showing conviction and making an example of opponents.

Last night Emmanuel Adebayor had a chance pushed away, Nabil Bentaleb glanced another Eriksen corner wide and Joe Hart was made to hook a corner out from under his own crossbar. These were nervy moments for supporters but their side responded with a steely will. When Capoue scored to enliven the home side once more, the leaders pushed them aside and scored twice.

The first of those came from Stevan Jovetic, the player who had replaced Aguero as a substitute in the final moments of the first half. It is easy to look at a substitutes bench and see players cosy in their jackets but not ready to be put into the heat of the action from the start. Yet City's bench more accurately resembles an armoury - Jovetic later joined on the pitch by Matija Nastasic and Aleksandar Kolarov.

The impact of Jovetic has been belittled by the noise which is being made by City's more assertive goal threats, such as Aguero, Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo. The latter would spend all of last night's emphatic victory with his feet up after being named on the bench. He would have a reasonable view of Jovetic's first league goal since his arrival at City in the summer. The striker cost £22m and was brought from Fiorentina.

His goal was aided by a slight deflection off Vlad Chiriches but had the value of exciting the visiting supporters who gleefully began chanting for their side to score more. They came close, Jovetic scooped another shot wide and Dzeko headed wide late on as Spurs were made to fend off increasing pressure.

Kolarov also had a shot deflected wide as City sought not only to move ahead in the Premier League, but lead by example.

A fifth goal was coming then, and it arrived with just one minute to go as Vincent Kompany rolled in a casual finish. The City captain had stolen into the penalty area and touched the ball over the line from close range.

It tipped the balance for Sherwood afterwards, who was certain that his side had been beaten by this season's championship winners. "We have played the champions, without question in my opinion," said the Spurs manager.

"Unfortunately for everyone they play, they don't just score one and shut up shop, they keep coming. I just think these guys are on a different level to anything else we have in the league."