Manchester City took their manager’s words to heart and were closer to the form that has won them 4 titles in 5 seasons on Sunday. As a result, they were able to cruise past Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0. Sky Blue News has all your headlines to start your week the right way.
Erling Braut Haaland nets hat-trick in Manchester City win over Wolverhampton Wanderers - Matt Law - Sports Mole
Guardiola’s side eventually made the breakthrough in the 40th minute, with Haaland heading a brilliant De Bruyne cross past Sa to send the hosts into the lead.
Man City had a big shout for a penalty in the 42nd minute when Grealish went down inside the box under a challenge from Nathan Collins, but the referee was not interested and VAR agreed with the call.
The home side had another two chances to double their advantage before the end of the first period, but brilliant defending from Collins kept the score at 1-0, with the Wolves defender heading a Grealish effort away before blocking De Bruyne’s shot.
Man City were awarded a penalty in the 49th minute of the contest when Ruben Neves fouled Ilkay Gundogan, and Haaland stepped forward to find the bottom corner of the net.
Haaland then completed his hat-trick in the 54th minute, with the Norway international converting a low cross from Riyad Mahrez after Sa had played the ball straight into the Algerian’s feet.
Questions had been asked of the blues in recent weeks after a series of lacklustre performances had seen the blues lose ground in the title race. After making a winning return to the Premier League after the World Cup, a dismal 1-1 draw with Everton and a 2-1 loss at Old Trafford put a huge dent in City’s hopes of claiming a third successive Premier League title.
That, coupled with an abject display at Southampton, where City were dumped out of the League Cup, led to some believing City had lost the fight, even questioning whether Haaland, who has now scored an incredible 31 goals from 26 matches for the blues, was the problem.
And for 45 minutes against Spurs, City looked more like a team fighting for their place in mid-table than title chasers, conceding two quick goals to Spurs, before staging a remarkable comeback to win 4-2. Before the match, manager Pep Guardiola said that would not always happen and if the team play like that against Arsenal, then City would be destroyed by the Gunners.
We’ll certainly find that out in the next few weeks, but relegation contenders Wolves were next on the agenda. The Black Country club had only won one game away all season and defeat, together with results elsewhere going against them, could have seen them fall into he dreaded drop zone. Luckily for the visitors, results went their way and they’ve managed to stay above the bottom three for at least another week, despite the blues taking them apart.
Haaland a problem!? Guardiola responds to baffling claims after latest hat-trick from Man City’s ‘incredible’ striker - Chris Burton - Goal
WHAT HAPPENED? The prolific Norwegian striker has been a revelation in the Premier League this season, with a treble against Wolves – his fourth of the campaign – taking him to 25 goals in the English top-flight. City have had to change their system slightly to incorporate the 22-year-old frontman, leading some to suggest that he may be the cause of uncharacteristic struggles for consistency as a collective, but Guardiola has no doubts that Haaland will be a key man for City whenever he is available for selection.
WHAT THEY SAID: Guardiola told reporters of his star No.9 after seeing him down Wolves and edge City closer to Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table: “The numbers are incredible. He lives 24 hours for his profession, job, passion, love. He’s not stressed much when it’s going well or going bad. He is stable. He feels the defeats. It’s really good. He is not a player who will take the ball 10 metres behind the box. It is not his ability. He has to get the balls being delivered as much as possible from the fantastic players around him. The first goal is because he’s there. The delivery from Kevin (De Bruyne) is fantastic. Always I believe. We know each other.”
With 18 matches still to go in the 2022/23 league campaign, Haaland’s hat-trick against Wolves on Sunday took him to 18 strikes at our home ground.
That sees the Norwegian beyond Sergio Aguero’s previous record tally of 16 set in 2011/12.
In total, he has 25 Premier League goals so far this campaign and leads the league’s scoring charts.
He has scored 31 competitive goals for Manchester City, with five coming in the UEFA Champions League and one in the Carabao Cup.
The performance against Wolves saw him score his fourth Premier League hat-trick in just 19 appearances.
Why Rico Lewis was substituted at half-time in Manchester City’s win over Wolves - Freddie Pye - City Xtra
While the first-half ended with City holding a slender 1-0 lead over Julen Lopetegui’s side, the performance as a whole was much more commanding than their previous outing against Spurs – a game that saw the away side lead 0-2 at the interval.
Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola made one change more than he did last time around, with Rico Lewis making way for Nathan Ake, as the Dutchman moved into the left-back role, allowing for John Stones to shift across into right-back.
Some presumed it may be due to an injury sustained by the impressive teenager, but Pep Guardiola was keen to remove such presumptions during post-match media duties. “No, no, no (injuries to Rico Lewis). I wanted to change to more solidity,” said the City boss.
“I thought Adama (Traore) could play again, I thought Nathan (Ake) could control him better than anyone else. And Rico (Lewis) has to know that playing every two or three days at that age is not easy.”
Continuing on Lewis, Guardiola explained, “He has to use his body to adapt himself. He was marking him a lot because Hwang Hee-chan was close to him. It (the substitution) was just to put more physical presence in that position.”
Pep Guardiola pleased with Man City response to ‘happy flowers’ rant but still wants more - Joe Bray - Manchester Evening News
City responded to Guardiola’s midweek criticism of their hunger and desire with a comfortable win over Wolves at the Etihad thanks to Erling Haaland’s hat-trick, keeping the pressure on Arsenal in the Premier League.
And while Guardiola said the response to his challenge had been positive, he stressed it had only been one game and insisted City must be better over a longer period.
“Yeah, it is getting better but just one day, I have to wait,” he said. “The way we play was quite similar to the first half where we were losing 2-0 to Spurs, our football was really, really good but it was 2-0, today we improved but it was just today. We will see what happens in the next games.
“It was recovery day after, the guys who didn’t play, they train really well. We talk a little bit to see what we have to do with the ball, without the ball we don’t train anything. I didn’t want to waste energy in the training session. We talk a little bit these what I think we missed. Now the message is clear: just one game. We have to see in the future.”
And finally... City face off against Spurs in the transfer market for Porro.
Porro remains heavily linked with Spurs. However, Fabio Paratici has, so far, been unable to agree terms with Sporting for the 23-year-old. The Portuguese side are digging their heels in and demanding that his £39.5 million release clause is triggered if he is going to leave this month.
Tottenham have been unwilling to meet those demands. However, AS reports that he remains a priority for Antonio Conte. He believes that Porro would fit his side like a glove.
Tottenham and Manchester City could make moves for Pedro Porro
Spurs have however, left the door open for other sides to join the race. AS claims that Real Madrid are now monitoring the Spaniard.
Meanwhile, Manchester City have started to discuss whether they should trigger the buy-back clause they agreed when they sold Porro to Sporting in the summer.
The Cityzens can sign the youngster for £15 million this month. That fee will rise to just under £20 million in the summer.
Report: Spurs are about to bid for 23-year-old in next few hours as Manchester City consider making offer https://t.co/w5TxraUTAF— The Boot Room (@tbrfootball) January 21, 2023
Manchester City got the three points they desperately needed against Wolves, but there is still more to do as United failed to pull points off the Gunners. Next up for the Sky Blues is a home FA Cup match against Arsenal FC on Friday. Stay with Bitter and Blue all week as we get ready for the return of Oleksander Zinchenko to the Etihad.