“Potential banana-skin” seemed to be the general consensus in the build-up to Wolverhampton Wanderers’ visit to the Etihad, for last night’s Premier League game against City. “Slip-up avoided” were the resounding final words.
A convincing 3-0 win for the reigning Champions was an important one, as the Blues looked to maintain the pressure on Liverpool at the top. Gabriel Jesus continued his sparkling form with another two goals – to add to his four last time out against Burton – with the other goal coming from a wicked Kevin De Bruyne cross that was deflected into his own net by Conor Coady.
3 goals. 3 points. Job done. Here are the main talking points from a thoroughly professional City performance from the blues.
We’re not going anywhere
Tonight’s win took City back to within just four points of league leaders Liverpool, ensuring that the onus remains firmly on the Reds to carry on winning, with Pep Guardiola’s men breathing menacingly down their necks. A convincing win against an opponent, in Wolves, that have had relative success against the Top Six – of course, significantly holding City to a draw at Molineux back in August – sends a resounding message to the league leaders. We mean business now.
Of course, an early red card for the opposition is always a boost, but City’s commanding start to the game suggested that even without the man advantage, there probably wouldn’t have been too many problems anyway. And yes, granted, while the opposition may have not been the sternest in Rotherham and Burton, 19 goals without reply in City’s last three games is a sharp reminder to our title challengers that our attack is capable of ripping any team to shreds. Our third goal tonight took us to 99 goals for the season, stretching our lead in the European top scorers’ charts ahead of PSG, who sit second with 81.
There’s a certain ruthlessness about City right now. After that electrifying 2-1 win over Liverpool a few weeks ago, hunger seems to have been restored. Unrelenting in our attacking intensity, there’s an unmistakable desire for goals. An unmistakable desire to put teams away. Thrash them. Destroy them. Something which, as the long, tiring season goes on, will provide us with a thrilling title race. As the two Premier League behemoths slog it out until May, trading blow for blow, each game becomes that bit more important, each mistake that bit more costly.
Tonight was a proverbial “your move” to Liverpool. A reminder, that when all said and done, we’re still right there. Right behind them.
The resurrection of Jesus
Before the visit of Rotherham, one of my main concerns was the form of Gabriel Jesus. I was praying for the Brazilian to grab at least a goal against the Championship side, to boost his visibly weary confidence. Eight days later, with seven goals in his last three, I think it’s fair to say he’s got his mojo back.
He produced a quite brilliant strikers’ performance last night. Hustling and harrying defenders and goalkeepers when they had the ball, annoying them with relentless movement when his teammates had the ball, and charging towards them when he had it – City’s number 33 did a bit of everything. His first was a typical poacher’s goal, racing in to meet Leroy Sane’s lasered cross to bundle the ball into an empty net. His second, a remarkably cool penalty into the bottom corner, showed his renewed confidence.
What I like most about Jesus though, is his explosive determination. Hellbent on causing defenders problems, the Brazilian brings something different to the City attack. His desire to get on the end of crosses, shown most dramatically when he flung himself head-first into the post midway through the first half, only goes to show his insatiable desire for goals.
After his remarkable week, I imagine that Guardiola is now left with a bit of a selection headache. To drop a man in such ferocious form would be madness, but to leave one of the Premier League’s greatest ever strikers sitting on the bench as the title run edges ever closer to its conclusion, would be just as bizarre. Still, not a bad problem to have.
And finally, an ode to David Silva – Manchester City’s record Premier League appearance maker
El Mago. Merlin. City’s very own footballing genius.
As a set of fans, it’s difficult to emphasise just how lucky we’ve been. To have the privilege of watching David Silva, arguably one of the greatest these shores has ever seen, work his magic in a blue shirt for so many years, week-in, week-out – we’ve been spoilt.
267 Premier League appearances is no mean feat. Nine years of tireless service, in a footballing era where players and managers come and go in a matter of months, is exceptional. For sure, it will be one of the club’s saddest days when he does eventually leave us. So humble, his brilliance is often understated. But, I can honestly say, I’ve never seen anyone so in control of a football when it’s at his feet. Stunning close control, silky shimmies, stepovers, turns, faints. Never mind running rings around defenders – what about that time when he literally ran a ring around the entire Arsenal midfield.
So effortless. So sublime. Oozing with class and creativity. That volleyed assist to make it six at Old Trafford. That twisting, turning run and finish at Blackpool. That brilliant free kick against Huddersfield just a few months ago. He’s provided us with some fantastic memories.
The Spaniard, unfortunately, couldn’t conjure up a special moment to commemorate his historic achievement tonight. But, with a typically elegant performance – gliding in between the lines, orchestrating each and every attack, relentlessly pressing and probing the opposition defense – he still produced enough to make the spectators purr.
A true City legend, David Silva isn’t done yet. Here’s to a few more years of Merlin’s magic.
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