Manchester City match report
Away at relegation threatened Stoke, there were concerns of a potential banana skin against a side famed for their dogged displays, especially at home – but these fears never materialised as a David Silva-inspired City side strode to a 26th league victory of the campaign.
‘El Mago’ found the back of the net either side of half-time, finishing off a pair of notoriously slick Blues moves, to inflict defeat on Paul Lambert’s side, who still find themselves languishing in 19th place in the league. Once the first strike hit the back of the net after 10 minutes, the result never looked in doubt.
There have been times in years gone by where Manchester City’s defensive frailties have looked as if they are to prove the downfall of a side so accustomed to playing such attractive, attacking football.
This does not look to be the case anymore, as Guardiola’s defensive unit seem to be shutting up shop just in time for the business end of the season.
Ignoring the outlier of an all but dead rubber in midweek against Basel, City’s backline has kept a clean sheet in all of their previous four league and cup ties – with Will Grigg’s goal for Wigan in the FA Cup the last time the Blues’ defence was breached in domestic competition.
Not only have teams been unable to find the back of the net, no one has even been coming close, as City’s total control of possession and territory has suffocated any opposition attacks; typified by neither of City’s two most recent league opponents – Stoke and Chelsea – managing to muster an attempt on Ederson’s goal between them.
With superior opposition on the horizon in the Champions League, such showings could prove the difference maker in how far this City side can go into the later rounds, as such convincing protection at the back will leave the highest scoring side – across all competitions – left in the tournament to wreak havoc on their opponents’ own rearguards.
Derby day dreams
Sitting an insurmountable 16-points clear again at the top of the table has all but sealed the deal in City’s crowning as champions – but the stars are beginning to align, leaving the Blues with the perfect opportunity to officially confirm their position as Premier League champions for the third time.
If City can maintain their composure and inflict defeat upon Sam Allardyce’s Everton a week on Saturday, they will be left with the prospect of their coronation falling on April 7th – coinciding perfectly with a date against their closest rivals, Manchester United.
The chance to put a firm exclamation mark on an unprecedented season for the Blues against Jose Mourinho’s side is, as Vincent Kompany describes, “once in a lifetime” and one that all members of the squad must be licking their lips at the prospect of – providing one last platform available to display the chasm in quality between the two sides.