Missing their captain and every first-team striker, Manchester City still turned in a patient performance Saturday to beat visiting Crystal Palace and draw level on points with Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.
David Silva netted a brace and Yaya Toure added a third to beat the Eagles 3-0, earning City's sixth-consecutive league win and eighth in all competitions in what could have easily been a disappointing start to the weekend if they hadn't handled business at the Etihad.
City played without a nominal striker in the absence of Sergio Aguero, Stevan Jovetic, and Edin Dzeko, and often displayed some of the expected side effects in a slightly frustrating first half. City's performance was far from ugly, but it did take Silva's first goal to ease the pressure.
A fortuitous deflection from the leg of a Palace defender allowed Silva to open the scoring in the 49th minute from a Pablo Zabaleta layoff. Though the goal itself was fortunate, it was nice to see Zabaleta's threat down the right rewarded in some fashion, especially considering how agonizingly close the fullback came to scoring a goal of his own.
Silva's second, a smart finish that was much harder than the Spaniard made it appear, came by way of a cross from the other fullback, Aleksandar Kolarov. With City's minds at ease, the champions were mostly able to relax for the final half hour, as Palace were essentially buried.
In the 81st minute, Toure added the final blow to the Eagles, capping a quality counterattack with his left-footed finish that was the best of the three City goals. Milner found the Ivorian's run through the exhausted Palace defenders, and Toure beat Julian Speroni off the keeper's near post.
With Vincent Kompany's hamstring injury holding him out of action, City clearly missed the captain in defense, but aside from an incorrectly disallowed goal, Palace lacked the quality to really take advantage of any openings. Recording a clean sheet, the fourth consecutive in all competitions, will always be helpful while the attack sorts itself out and it also gives a nice birthday gift to Martin Demichelis.
It would have been nice to see 17-year-old striker Thierry Ambrose get some action from the bench, but Fernando, Frank Lampard, and a rare Scott Sinclair appearance comprised Pellegrini's three substitutes.
City can now rest until Boxing Day, when they'll begin a grueling stretch of four matches in 10 days with a visit to West Brom.
What'd everyone else think of the game?