Relegation fighters Stoke bow to ruthless City
A late cold Monday night fixture away at Stoke could not slow down a rampaging Manchester City side as the visitors thumped 19th placed Stoke City 0-2 to sit on the summit of the Premier League standings. Following yesterday’s spirited win thanks to a sensational David Silva show, City managed to do the league double over the Potters for the first time since 1998-99. The Spanish playmaker scored both the goals for the Blues as he now becomes the player with the most Premier League wins in the City shirt (244 P, 164 W).
Currently on 81 points at the end of game-week 30, City look very much on course to win the league well before anybody’s imagination as they now need just three wins out of the remaining eight fixtures to be crowned the champions, which includes a mouth-watering possibility of winning the title at the Old Trafford.
A comeback for both Sterling and Fernandinho into the starting XI, City never looked off-balance as they pulled off yet another routine win at the bet365 Stadium as Pep’s blue and white army look to continue their domination over the country. With the league title well within grasps, Guardiola will definitely try to focus on the Champions League next, having qualified for the quarters after sneaking past FC Basel which ended 5-2 after both legs.
As City head into a long two-week break in Abu Dhabi, we look back at 5 talking points of the match:
(1) No Aguero, no problem: With Aguero out injured of the clash with a small knee injury, Pep had Jesus available following his return some weeks back. And with Sterling and Fernandinho fit again, the City manager had no headaches in fielding his team against a tough and sturdy Stoke side away from home. Guardiola’s revolutionary football at the realm has thus entrusted anyone on the field set to snatch a goal. With the likes of Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan on the bench, it is evident City are having a superb season thanks to a rich bench strength.
(2) Magical Silva: David Silva’s improvement under Pep Guardiola has been eye-catching as the 32-year old can be seen busier under the present manager’s gameplay and tactical movements during the match. This has greatly helped his cause as the Spanish midfielder, who was bought from Valencia after the Arab take over at the club score more regularly and bring vital points for the team. Silva is just one shy of his hundredth assist mark in the Premier League and with the current form he has been in, it shouldn’t take much time.
(3) Pale Stoke not a worry for oppositions: The Potters have conceded 56 times this season, the second most in the division only after West Ham which gives to show how woeful time it has been up there for the Stoke defenders. Even after a decent season for Butland between the sticks which has sparked rumours of him moving to Liverpool coming summer, the defense line has been a problem for Stoke as they continue to battle it out to stay afloat in the league.
(4) Ederson keeps getting better: After the big money move from Benfica to the Etihad last summer saw a lot of questioning on the Brazilian’s unorthodox style of goalkeeping, the 24-year old has justified why Pep decided to splash the cash for the ever-improving shot-stopper. A sweeper-keeper in every right, Ederson’s vision and decision making has been near-perfect all throughout the season, barring the forgetful Liverpool clash at Anfield. As cool as a cucumber on the field, Ederson had a perfect game yesterday, readily handing out passes from outside the box with ease and making crucial clearances.
(5) Rejuvenated City defence after Kompany comeback: After the skipper’s return to the match-day squad, the City backline has been rock solid. Since the Carabao Cup triumph against Arsenal where Kompany made a match-winning performance, City has had three consecutive clean sheets in the league and even after all the combinations with Otamendi, Stones and Laporte in the frame; Pep’s men look determined to end the game with a clean sheet every time they step on the field.