5 Things We Learned: Manchester City 3-1 Watford (Premier League)

Raheem Sterling’s 13-minute hat trick saw Manchester City overcome their latest hurdle in their race to become the first team in 10 years to retain the Premier League title. Despite a quiet first 45, the game provided us with some interesting talking points – here are five things we learned from a big win at the Etihad.

Raheem Sterling, he’s top of the league

We knew this already, to be fair, so I’ve already lied to you about having learned this. It does feel very right to say it though, and it seems fair to begin by discussing Sterling’s game. He is undoubtedly a world class player. City seem more dynamic when he’s in the team, and without him, we may have been ruing a defeat today. 

There was definitely a questionable aspect to his opener just after half time, as I’ll discuss later, but his performance today can’t be labelled as anything other than pure quality. His second was typical Raheem Sterling, positioning himself perfectly to get on the end of Riyad Mahrez’s cross, and his hat-trick goal was perfectly taken. After rounding two Watford players, he delicately poked the ball home over Ben Foster perfectly. There is certainly a strong case that says he is England’s best player right now.

David Silva is not declining as much as we think

As much as it worries me to say David Silva hasn’t been anywhere near his best recently, there’s no hiding from the truth – the Spaniard hasn’t had as much impact in his last few games. His sheer quality means he has still played a role in City’s recent run of good results, but overall he hasn’t impressed in our last few games.

However, he was one of City’s better players in the first half in my opinion, although that isn’t saying much. In the second period, he was able to find more space and some better passes, including a perfectly weighted ball to Raheem Sterling to set up his hat-trick goal.

The FA don’t know who they’re biased towards

We’ve all heard this season the undeniable truth that there is a major conspiracy against Manchester City. Obviously, the FA are desperate for Liverpool to win the league and anyone who can’t see that is delusional. 

Or so we thought. Until the 46th minute, when Raheem Sterling scored a rather fortunate goal that was made even more fortunate by the fact he was very, very offside. Now, this obviously means that the Sheikh has dipped his hand into his considerably deep pockets for the benefit of Richard Scudamore and that City is actually the team that is destined to win the league as a result of corruption and fraud. 

Or, it could be that, for the most part, decisions tend to even out over the course of a season and we’re all over-reacting. It might be an important goal come to the end of the season, but we’ve had a lot go against us too.

Losing Fernandinho isn’t that bad

Seeing Fernandinho come off at Wembley a couple of weeks ago was a worrying sight, for sure. Many, including myself, felt it could have begun our downfall at this pivotal time in the campaign. However, Ilkay Gundogan’s form in the last few weeks has been brilliant. Finally, we are seeing what we expected to see when he first arrived at the Etihad three years ago.

Although he doesn’t play quite the same role as Fernandinho, his performances have somewhat filled the hole the Brazilian leaves in the team. While more counter attacks slipped past him than we would have liked, the German did a fantastic job in build-up play and kept hold of the ball very well. 

Phil Foden deserves more minutes

For a player with the talent that Foden has, the number of minutes he has received this season is unfair. Before the threats start rolling in, I know that he has done ok for himself – five goals and two assists so far with a lot of playing time in the cups – but when it comes to the league, Pep isn’t being generous enough at all. 

Fewer than 100 minutes isn’t fair at all to Foden, who consistently looks sharp and dangerous when he comes on. Yes, this team is incredibly hard to break into and, perhaps illogically, I don’t think he should start in the league until the title is definitely won or lost. But when the situation arises, the 18-year-old deserves far more than three minutes at the end of games. Of the 10 substitute appearances he has made in the league, six of them have seen him play fewer than 10 minutes. 

For a player with his potential, this should change next season. 

You can follow the author on Twitter here: @dannyldnr

You can follow us on Twitter for more Manchester City content: @City_Xtra

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