With the opportunity to rise to the top of the table on offer, it was imperative for Manchester City to take all three points from a ground that has been somewhat of an unpredictable place to go over recent years. With the game being rearranged due to participation in the Carabao Cup Final, and sandwiched between two huge games against Arsenal and Chelsea, the performance from the team continually looked laboured. The result however, was never in doubt, with Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus scoring to seal the result for City. Here are the talking points from Goodison Park.
An uninspiring but important victory
All that mattered before the game was to make sure Manchester City got the result they needed. With some lethargic performances in recent weeks, especially the defeat to Newcastle, would we finally see the dominant performance we’ve grown accustomed to in recent times? The answer is not really. Another slow, uninspiring performance was to come, although unlike previous games, City were able to grind out a 0-2 victory. In all honesty, despite City not being completely at the races, Everton couldn’t seem to break their recent poor form and cause City any real problems.
It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what is causing the lull City find themselves in. Are they fatigued? Has the concentration disappeared? These are the kinds of questions you can expect Guardiola to be contemplating himself. Pundits always say grinding out wins when you aren’t at your best is a sign of champions – let’s hope this proves to be the case come May.
Back to the top of the table
City returned to the summit of the table with this result for the first time in what seems like forever. With the game being rearranged, City had the opportunity to wipe out the three point lead Liverpool had at the top, and they duly obliged. With Liverpool playing Man United on the day of the Carabao Cup final, there could also be another reason to celebrate for City fans, should they stay level with Liverpool over the next couple of weeks.
The pressure of being the team on top is well-documented. However, unlike Liverpool, City have players who have been in this scenario once or twice before, and succeeded. These experiences could prove vital in deciding where the 2018/19 Premier League trophy ends up.
Aymeric Laporte shows his worth once again
In a game lacking any real stand-out performances, one man stood out amongst the rest. Aymeric Laporte has become more and more important to this team since his big money move from Athletic Bilbao, and it could be argued his name is now first on the team sheet. Another commanding performance tonight only backs up this argument, especially as it came from a left-back role he has not played all to often. A towering header made up for an earlier miss that seemed easier to score than the actual goal, as well as spraying passes around as elegantly as any previous Guardiola player.
The arguments between rival fans about who is the best defender in the league always throw up the same names – Van Dijk, Alderweireld, Vertonghen etc. Aymeric’s name should have been in the conversation way before tonight, and even more so now.
A vital win all things considered that now keeps the pressure firmly on Liverpool and Tottenham to continue to pick up results. With City not in action until Sunday afternoon against Chelsea, we could find ourselves back in 2nd by the time we kick off due to Liverpool playing on Saturday. We’ve been in this scenario before and we have the team to make it count, and I’m sure this result could prove vital in the remaining months of the season.
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