Manchester City moved into second place in the Premier League after their 4-0 over Crystal Palace. Two goals from John Stones and strikes from Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling sealed the victory which moved City to within two points of leaders United with a game in hand.
The blues went into the match unbeaten in 14 games in all competitions, and the win over Palace was City’s eighth straight victory, a run that has propelled the blue sup the table after a less than ideal start to the season.
Four days earlier, the blues had hosted Brighton and came away with a 1-0 win, with a performance that was derided by some as City often struggled to get past the Seagulls defence, and the way Palace set up, it looked like being another evening of frustration for the boys in blue. There was cause for apprehension amongst the faithful, and the memory of Palace’s last two visits will be fresh in the minds of the supporters.
After an unbeaten run of 13 matches against the Eagles, which included winning streak of 9 consecutive matches, City came unstuck in 2018 when Palace pulled off a shock 3-2 win (a fact that TV commentators may have mentioned once or twice), and followed that up last season with a 2-2 draw, Fernandinho’s last minute own goal giving the Eagles a share of the points.
But once Stones had given City the lead, there was almost a sense of inevitability about the result. The defender had stayed up front following a City corner which had been cleared by the Palace defence, but Sterling picked up the ball and played a magnificent ball out to Kevin de Bruyne on the right. The Belgian kingpin sent an inch-perfect cross with the outside of his right boot and Stones was there to powerfully head beyond the keeper and score his first Premier League goal for City.
The blues had been in this position before, but when Gundogan increased the lead on 56 minutes, it settled any nerves and allowed City to play freely again. Bernardo Silva’s corner wasn’t cleared and Gundogan challenged the Palace man on the edge of the box, won the ball then curled a delightful shot into the top corner, giving the visiting keeper no chance.
City were now playing with ease and continued to attack Palace at every opportunity, and keeping the visitors camped into their own half. Any time Palace did get in the City half, the defence was being superbly marshalled by the new dynamic duo of Stones and Ruben Dias.
But the former showed that defending isn’t the only thing he has improved on, and in the 68th minute, Stones increased the lead further. Palace once more were architects of their own downfall and were struggling to deal with City corners, a phrase that sounds unfamiliar when discussing City. Dias met another corner magnificently, only for the keeper to make the block, but the rebound fell to Stones to sweep home his second and City’s third.
City had a brief moment of worry as Ayew picked up a stray ball from Fernandinho, but as the Palace striker raced forward, the Brazilian tracked back and made an excellent tackle to deny Palace a goal and preserve City’s run of clean sheets.
There was time for a fourth when Sterling crashed home a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area. After missing from 12 yards on Wednesday, the faithful could have been forgiven for asking why the winger was standing over the ball, but as the ball curled around the wall and into the top corner, it soon became clear.
Another clean sheet and four goals to boot sees the blues leap above Liverpool and Leicester into second place. The blues are hitting top form and when they are in this mood, there may be no stopping them.
Final Score: Manchester City 4-0 Crystal Palace