Hull City 0 Manchester City 3
City Tame the Tigers
Saturday 26th December 2016 : George Symons
for GYKO at KCOM Stadium
This was a
third win in succession for Manchester City and, while not a vintage
one, Pep Guardiola will take much solace from his side’s renewed
resolve in recent weeks. Yaya Touré and Kelechi Iheanacho were the
City names on the score sheet but the visitors seem mentally
reinvigorated and far more assured in the face of direct and
Hull certainly provided such a challenge and credit must also go to
them after matching their far wealthier adversaries for much of the
game. In the end City’s greater quality saw them over the line, a
Touré penalty, a fine team move finished by Iheanacho and a late
Curtis Davies own-goal ensuring they finished Boxing Day second in
the Premier League table.
Given that Sergio Agüero has been missing since early December and
the nature of City’s defeat at Leicester two weeks ago, Guardiola
can point to a tangible improvement in his side’s recent
performances, even if this was not a classic. Hull battled well but
they have now not won in seven league matches.
“The first half was quite good in terms of control, except in the
last five minutes when we conceded a few stupid fouls and they
created some problems with the quality of [Robert] Snodgrass’ set
pieces. But we forgot in the first half where the goal was,”
“Every time Ras [Sterling] had the ball it was pass, pass, pass and
we don’t need Ras for the pass we need him for the one-on-one. In
the second half he created the penalty, he created the third goal.
“We cannot forget that we’ve played seven games [this season]
without Kun [Agüero]. Gabriel Jesus is also coming so we will have
two to three strikers with a sense of the goal. It’s so important,
especially in games like this.”
John Stones returned to the City starting line-up but the defender
lasted only 18 minutes before a kick to the knee forced him off,
although Guardiola suggested the injury could be serious. Aleksandar
Kolarov slotted in at centre-back but neither side produced many
moments of fluency during a drab first half.
City had more of the ball but Hull were relatively solid in defence
and limited their opponents to speculative efforts early on.
Guardiola had selected a team without a striker once again – with
Agüero serving the final match of his four-game suspension – so
Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Nolito and Raheem Sterling regularly
switched positions in a fluid attacking set-up.
Both teams, though, began the second half with more intent. Sterling
had an enticing cross-shot palmed away by David Marshall before Hull
started to press. Harry Maguire found himself in an attacking
position and crossed from the right to the far post, where Sam
Clucas met the ball with a half-volley that was blocked well.
A swift break from City so nearly resulted in the opening goal in
the 53rd minute, De Bruyne eventually receiving the ball down the
left before cutting inside and firing a low effort on to Marshall’s
Hull then came extremely close themselves. A series of crosses into
the box had pinned City in and when Michael Dawson met a high ball
with a looping header he seemed to have directed it superbly over
City’s goalkeeper, Claudio Bravo, and into the net, only for Bacary
Sagna, in a fine position on the line, to clear the danger.
Guardiola sent on Iheanacho in place of Nolito with just over half
an hour remaining but it was Sterling who had the decisive impact.
After 72 minutes the England forward darted inside from the right
and was brought down in the penalty area following a clumsy sliding
challenge from Andrew Robertson. There were no complaints from Hull
and Touré stepped up to finish emphatically from the spot.
The second, which killed the game six minutes later, was a fine team
move. De Bruyne glided forward, waited calmly before playing a
precise pass right to Silva, who then cut an excellent ball across
goal for Iheanacho to finish into an empty net.
Davies’ late own-goal – the result of a rapid Sterling break down
the left – rubbed salt into Hull’s wounds. Mike Phelan, the Hull
manager, said: “It is harsh because a lot of work went into that
game from our players today. We suffered through elementary errors
which we have to stop doing if we are to progress in this league.
“I thought the way we went about our work today was commendable,”
Phelan added. “The critical part is when you make those individual
errors and they cost you. But I’m not going to look for a scapegoat.
Andy Robertson has been terrific. It’s that youthfulness, maybe
immaturity at times at this level. But I think he will come out of
it for the better.
Hull City : Marshall, Maguire, Dawson, Davies, Elmohamady,
Livermore (Henriksen 74), Huddlestone (Mason 63 Booked 82), Clucas
(Diomande78), Robertson, Snodgrass, Mbokani. unused subs :
Meyler, Maloney, Jakupovic, Weir
Manchester City : Bravo, Sagna, Otamendi, Stones (Kolarov 18),
Clichy, Fernandinho, Y Touré, Sterling, Silva (Fernando 8), Nolito
(Iheanacho 57), De Bruyne Subs not used
Zabaleta, Caballero, Jesús Navas, García
Referee: Robert Madley
Manchester City 2 Arsenal 1
Arsenal Gunned Down
Sunday 18th December 2016 : GYKO at the Etihad
There was a moment a little less than half an hour in when Pep
Guardiola, shaped to pass a ball back into play, fell flat on his
backside, to the collective mirth of the visiting contingent and,
rather self-consciously, waved to them. Though he resumed his usual
immaculate poise, the fall left a small stain of whitewash on the
bottom of his coat.
We seemed to have witnessed an emblem of the
fallibility of the manager who was supposed to walk on water and
whose Manchester City side at that stage were a goal behind and
threatening to suffer defeats to Chelsea, Leicester and Arsenal in
the space of 18 days.
All excitement about the subsequent turnaround
must be tempered by an acknowledgement that they happened to be
playing a side who now have sacrificed leads twice in five days and
whose manager, Arsene Wenger, made the shocking admission on Sunday
night that his side “dropped physically” in the second half – as if
that was actually acceptable. City’s defence also looked profoundly
vulnerable as they fell behind.
But the win revealed a steel which has not often
been visible in City these past four or five years. It was the first
time since the 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur here in November 2012
that they have overturned a losing half-time deficit to win. At the
heart of the shift was Guardiola, making the almost imperceptible
tactical shifts, such as withdrawing Kevin de Bruyne from the spear
of the attack to overload the midfield and deploying both Raheem
Sterling and Leroy Sane in the pocket of space between the lines.
A squeeze on the accelerator pedal was really all
Guardiola’s players needed to drive their opponents into the dust
and transform a game in which they had no shots on goal in the first
half and allow Arsenal, who should have taken confidence from that,
none in the second.
Guardiola offered emotional thanks to the
supporters for staying until the end, though the way his players
started made the notion of them making it to the interval look a
struggle. The players were distracted, arriving on the field
sporting Ilkay Gundogan shirts worn back to front in recognition of
his prolonged absence with cruciate damage of their teammate, who
was injured on Wednesday. Was this necessary? All sense of
perspective had seemingly vanished. “Awful start by City. Gundogan
will be turning in his grave,” was one of the many memorable
responses on social media as the game got under way.
Guardiola’s players could have done with saving
their thoughts for how to shore up a defence that looks porous. The
manager had retained the same back four for the first time this
season, with John Stones still carrying the can for what happened at
Leicester last weekend, yet there was a very familiar vulnerability
when Arsenal scored, five minutes in.
Hector Bellerin was able to take a ball rolled
out to him from Petr Cech, advance unchecked, to the half way line
beyond the jogging de Bruyne and locate Alexis Sanchez, who had time
to execute a reverse pass of the finest geometry, which Theo
Walcott, advancing unhindered from a position behind him, was able
to take on and sidefoot past Claudio Bravo with minimum power.
“Sometimes you can’t control talent,” Guardiola reflected. But he
goalkeeper committed himself dreadfully early and Nicolas Otamendi
was pitifully unaware of Walcott’s run.
After Raheem Sterling criminally headed de
Bruyne’s well weighted cross over, we witnessed an impressive
Arsenal muscularity. Bellerin halted a Sterling run, Alex Iwobi
quelled an advance from Leroy Sane, a Francis Coquelin tackle on
Yaya Toure was timed to perfection and Laurent Koscielny
demonstrated what good central defending looked like.
All this made Arsenal’s second half capitulation
shocking to behold. The equaliser offered grounds for complaint.
Sane, was fractionally offside when - after Arsene Wenger’s players
had failed to gather a Cech clearance - David Silva seized the ball
and played him in to run through and score.
Wenger was unhappy about the winner, too. The
40-yard cross-field pass from Kevin de Bruyne which supplied
Sterling was even better than the Englishman’s dead-eye finish: a
shot on the inside Cech’s post. Silva, in an offside position, ran
in front of the goalkeeper at around the moment Sterling released
his shot and though it was a very close call, Cech said on Sunday
night that he was unsighted.
City ran amok after that, with Sane repeatedly
running at the visiting defence with a pace that it could not deal
with and it took Cech to keep the deficit respectable. The
goalkeeper saved sharply from Sane just beyond the hour and palmed
wide a De Bruyne shot which was deflected by Granit Xhaka.
The display left Guardiola talking of “fighting
for the title,” though only when the defence is sorted out will the
risk of falling on their backsides be fully removed.
Manchester City (4-1-4-1): Bravo; Zabaleta
(Sagna HT), Otamendi, Kolarov, Clichy; Fernando; Sane (Navas 76),
Toure, Silva, De Bruyne ( Iheanacho 84); Sterling. Substitutes:
Caballero, Nolito, Stones, Iheanacho, Garcia
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerin, Gabriel,
Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin (Girond 75), Xhaka; Walcott, Ozil,
Iwobi (Oxlade Chamberlain 65, subbed by Elneny 76) Sanchez.
Substitutes: Ospina, Gibbs, Perez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Holding
Referee: M. Atkinson (West Yorkshire) Attendance:
Manchester City 2 Watford 0
Wednesday December 14th 2016 : GYKO at the
In the sleek Guardiola era, narrow victories over
the likes of Watford were not supposed to trigger feelings of relief
around Manchester City.
These, however, have been a strange, stuttering few months at the
Etihad Stadium and, but for Odion Ighalo blazing wide from six yards
shortly before the end, the most unlikely statistic of Pep
Guardiola’s time here – that City had not won a home league game
since September 17 – might have endured. There was, nevertheless, a
price to be paid for the points. Late in the first half, Ilkay
Gundogan collided heavily with Nordin Amrabat and was forced off.
As it was, they were rescued by their old guard with goals from
Pablo Zabaleta and David Silva, men who have endured the full range
of emotions that Manchester City has to offer. Raheem Sterling might
have wrapped matters up earlier but his shot skimmed the crossbar
and then, once Ighalo’s chance had raised fears of another
squandered opportunity, City broke away and this time Silva did not
The match had been framed by Pep Guardiola’s pre-match press
conference in which, following the 4-2 defeat at Leicester, the
Premier League’s most unsackable manager had argued without any
prompting that he could be fired. He might be sacked but not until
City start having league derbies with Oldham and Kevin de Bruyne has
been sold to Manchester United.
Nevertheless, the fact remained that Manchester City had not won a
home game of any description since the triumphant evisceration of
Barcelona on the first night in November. The casualty was John
Stones, described by his manager at Everton as the best English
defender since Bobby Moore - and there were times when you thought
that for once Roberto Martinez was not exaggerating.
There was not, in truth, much defending to be done. The Watford
manager, Walter Mazzarri, had made a big decision of his own. Troy
Deeney, the club captain, who had not scored in eight games, joined
Stones on the bench. His place went to Jerome Sinclair, who made his
first start since joining from Liverpool in the summer.
Manchester City probed and prodded; Huerelho Gomes made a fine save
from De Bruyne, some crosses whistled across the six yard line.
However, Watford kept their shape and their discipline admirably.
They lost Roberto Pereyra when the game was barely half an hour old.
The Argentine fell heavily in front of Guardiola on the touchline,
who looked concerned and ordered his team to put the ball out of
play. Some in the home crowd began booing and then when he collapsed
again they booed him off.
It sounded untypically ignorant, perhaps born of frustration. It was
still officially summer when they had last seen Manchester City win
at home in the Premier League and Watford looked like being another
team who would just manage to cling on at the Etihad.
Those who had travelled up from Hertfordshire knew they would do
well to hold out indefinitely – Watford had not won in the blue half
of Manchester since April 1987 when City were hurtling towards
relegation. Their last journey to the North West had seem them
thrashed 6-1 at Liverpool.
Two minutes after Pereyra’s substitution, they cracked. De Bruyne
sent in a cross from the left that was meant for and missed Gundogan.
However, it fell perfectly for Zabaleta who met the ball on the half
volley at the far post.
The crowd erupted. It is hard in these days of image rights,
bodyguards and limousines with darkened windows for fans to feel
close to those they support but Pablo Zabaleta, the oldest of
Manchester City’s old guard, is genuinely loved. When he ran to the
stands clutching the badge on his shirt, it did not feel like faked
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Bravo; Zabaleta, Otamendi, Kolarov,
Clichy; Gundogan (Fernando 44), Toure; Sterling, De Bruyne, Silva;
Nolito. Substitutes: Caballero (g), Sagna, Navas, Sane, Stones,
Watford (4-4-2): Gomes; Janmaat (Success 60), Prodl, Britos, Holebas;
Amrabat, Capoue, Guedioura, Pereyra (Zuniga 31); Sinclair, Ighalo.
Substitutes: Pantilimon (g), Kaboul, Deeney, Watson, Kabasele
Referee - Kevin Friend
Leicester City 4 Manchester City 2
Saturday 10th December 2016 : Reg Howe for
GYKO at the Kingpower Stadium
Vardy ended his goal drought with a fabulous hat-trick as a
revitalised Leicester tore apart a dreadful Manchester City to leave
Pep Guardiola facing searching questions.
Guardiola’s side played into the Foxes' hands and were cruelly
exposed by a Leicester side who finally rediscovered the swagger of
Premier League champions.
Vardy led the way, scoring a typical treble after 16 club
appearances without a goal. But Leicester, for whom Andy King also
scored a memorable goal, were aided and abetted by opponents who
defended high up the field and left Vardy with the space he relishes
A shambolic defensive display from Guardiola’s men left questions
still hanging over whether the Spaniard’s successful methods from
Spain and Germany will transfer successfully into the Premier
They followed up a costly defeat to Chelsea last weekend with
another chastening loss despite late goals for Aleksandar Kolarov
For Leicester, though, it was a hugely welcome return to form after
a difficult defence of their Premier League title. The champions
made a fabulous start as Vardy ended his long wait for a goal to cap
an excellent move.
Riyad Mahrez produced a sublime touch to cushion a high ball into
the path of Islam Slimani, whose sliderule pass for Vardy was almost
The England forward drifted away from Aleksandar Kolarov and
despatched a low shot past Claudio Bravo and into the bottom corner
with a finish that showed none of his recent nerves.
Ranieri was still digesting that moment when, two minutes later, his
team doubled their lead with another excellent goal.
Christian Fuchs’ long throw was headed on powerfully by Robert Huth
and Slimani again provided the assist with a neat lay-off.
But the goal was all about King, whose curling strike from the edge
of the penalty area flew in off the fingers of the despairing Bravo.
Things might have got even better for the hosts in the 12th minute
when another header down from Huth found Slimani but the Algerian
could not adjust his posture sufficiently to direct a shot on
Manchester City had barely stirred in the opening 15 minutes but
they threatened Leicester’s goal when the home side failed to clear
from the edge of their 18-yard box, allowing Kevin De Bruyne a shot
that flashed a couple of yards wide.
That was a false dawn, however, and their gloom deepened on 20
minutes when Vardy added his second thanks in no small part to
another moment of magic from Mahrez.
The PFA player of the year produced an outrageous touch to divert
Christian Fuchs’ 50-yard pass perfectly into the feet of Vardy, who
rounded Bravo and coolly slotted home.
It could have got even better two minutes later when a revitalised
Mahrez weaved his way past a series of of defenders but saw his shot
turned away by Bravo.
Manchester City screamed for a penalty in first-half stoppage time
when Kelechi Iheanacho went down under a clumsy challenge from Marc
But their appeals were waved away and Leicester should have ended
any doubt over the result seconds later when Albrighton’s cross
found the unmarked Slimani, who headed wide with the goal at his
Early in the second half the visitors applied pressure on the hosts
and they threatened to reduce the deficit in the opening moments.
Both Pablo Zabaleta and De Bruyne had shots blocked in a frantic
goalmouth scramble with De Bruyne appealing half-heartedly and
unsuccessfully for a penalty for handball against Fuchs.
Ilkay Gundogan then sent a shot just wide after a lay-off by
Iheanacho as Guardiola’s side continued to peg back Ranieri’s.
But Leicester had the opportunity to settle any tingling nerves
among their supporters when Slimani drifted into space in the
visitors’ penalty area, only for his shot to be kept out by Bravo.
Vardy made it 4-0 on 78 minutes when he completed his hat-trick in
trademark tenacious style.
He pounced on a dreadful pass from England colleague John Stones and
scored from a tight angle with the goal awarded thanks to goalline
And even a fabulous curling free-kick from Kolarov four minutes
later to make it 4-1 and a side-footed finish by Nolito in the final
minute could not spare their side from embarrassment.
Boss Pep Guardiola would not criticise his team's defending after
they had found themselves two goals down inside five minutes.
He said: "We defended well with these players at the beginning of
the season and we played good teams at the beginning of the season
so now we have to analyse the mentality of players to make a step
forward. All managers need time.
"We tried until the end, always in one game there are some good
things but it's difficult at this level when it's 2-0 after a few
Leicester City (4-4-2): Zieler; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Mahrez
(James 90+1), King, Amartey, Albrighton; Slimani (Okazaki 77), Vardy
(Gray 88). Subs not used:
Chilwell, Musa, Hamer, Mendy.
Manchester City (4-1-4-1): Bravo; Zabaleta, Sagna, Stones, Kolarov;
Fernando; Navas (Sterling 58), Gundogan (Nolito 68), Silva, De
Bruyne; Iheanacho (Toure 58). Subs not
used: Caballero, Sane, Clichy, Abarabioyo.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Manchester City 1 Celtic 1
Honours Even in Battle of Britain
Tuesday 6th December 2016 : GYKO at the Etihad
This game may have been irrelevant in terms of final Champions
League group standings, but it was not a wasted evening for Patrick
Roberts. On loan from Manchester City to Celtic, Roberts scored
against and frustrated his parent club to end Celtic's European
campaign on a positive note.
City were already assured of second spot in Group C and Celtic
bottom before kick-off here, but the numerous personnel changes by
Pep Guardiola made for an open, even and entertaining match.
Celtic played with attacking verve and provided City with a constant
threat. This was not the kind of dour and defensive display often
seen in previous years by Scotland’s champions, but one that will
give Brendan Rodgers much optimism going forward.
There were some scuffles between opposition supporters in the
closing stages, but on the whole this was a match played in good
spirits by two sides intent on scoring. Kelechi Iheanacho
demonstrated his sharpness with the equalising goal, but Roberts was
the one that shone and Guardiola cannot have failed to notice his
Roberts, signed by City from Fulham for £11m in July 2015 and having
made one Premier League appearance as a substitute for the club,
made his mark on the game after just four minutes, during a frantic
start in which City’s three-man defence struggled to settle. Gael
Clichy and Bacary Sagna played either side of teenager Tosin
Adarabioyo, but the new-look defence looked vulnerable early on.
Guardiola made nine changes from the weekend defeat to Chelsea and
it took a few minutes until his players relaxed into the game. That
was not before Roberts had demonstrated his qualities against his
parent club, darting inside and beating Clichy for agility and pace
before finishing coolly past Willy Caballero whose poor ball out
gave Celtic the scoring opportunity in the first place.
Roberts was a constant threat and Guardiola could have been forgiven
for pondering why this talented attacker was lining up in the black
of Celtic instead of the Manchester blue. Leroy Sane, playing left
wing-back for City, was regularly required to check back and keep
taps on Roberts instead of making runs forward himself. He could
have also had a penalty shortly before half-time, with Clichy
appearing to hold him back on the edge of the area.
However, while Roberts shone throughout, Celtic's lead only lasted
four minutes. Ilkay Gundogan – alongside Sane the only player who
remained in the team from the Chelsea loss – started the move in
central midfield, finding Nolito who split the Celtic defence with a
precise through ball to Iheanacho. The youngster accelerated onto
the pass and finished emphatically, into the top corner with the
outside of his right foot.
Iheanacho is poised for an extended run in the City first-team
following Sergio Aguero’s four-match suspension, and Guardiola will
take heart from a performance that showed the striker is in sharp
In the 11th minute he flashed a left-footed effort wide after Pablo
Zabaleta had put him through, and shortly before half-time he was
denied a superb backflick goal by Craig Gordon’s excellent
Celtic could have gone in front again had Moussa Dembele not sliced
his shot into the side netting when rounding Caballero, but Rodgers’
side were playing with an attacking confidence that has become
commonplace this season.
Tom Rogic flashed a shot over the crossbar in the 63rd minute as
both sides sought an equaliser, the game open and quickly moving
from one end to the other. Nolito had a goal ruled out for offside –
just straying past the last man before finishing Navas’ low cross –
and the substitute Leigh Griffiths scuffed a shot two yards wide in
the 78th minute.
In the end there was to be no winner, but it was Celtic’s fans
singing loudest at the final whistle.
Manchester City (3-5-2): Caballero; Sagna, Adarabioyo, Clichy;
Maffeo (Navas 62), Sane, Gundogan, Fernando, Zabaleta; Nolito,
Iheanacho. Subs not used: Gunn, Aguero, Stones, Otamendi, Tasende,
Celtic (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre;
Brown, Armstrong; Roberts, Rogic, Forrest (Mackay-Steven 51);
Dembele (Griffiths 73). Subs not used: De Vries, Toure, Bitton,
Referee: Slavko Vincic
Manchester City 1 Chelsea 3
Saturday 3rd December 2016 ; GYKO at the
This was the first time Pep
Guardiola and Antonio Conte had ever met as managers and, if this
encounter is any kind of benchmark, it might become the Muhammad Ali
v Joe Frazier of the Premier League
The match, which took Chelsea four points clear at the top of the
Premier League, finished with the kind of brawl that Madison Square
Gardens would have recognised. Deep into stoppage time, the contest
between Sergio Aguero and David Luiz that had been one of the themes
of the afternoon exploded.
The Argentine launched himself into a reckless tackle that provoked
a mass confrontation between both sets of players. When the teams
were pulled apart, Manchester City were down to nine men. Aguero was
shown his second straight red card of the season which will earn him
a four-match ban. For pushing Cesc Fabregas over an advertising
hoarding, Fernandinho, who was also dismissed, faces any length of
suspension. Manchester City finished a match they should have won
beaten and embarrassed.
Had this been a boxing match, this would have been a knockout from
the ropes. As he contemplated the match, Guardiola remarked that he
was “curious” about the outcome. He sounded like a scientist about
to conduct a laboratory experiment. You did not have to possess
Guardiola’s knowledge of football to analyse the results.
Teams that do not drive home their advantages in possession and
chances always risk defeat. Whether at Barcelona or Bayern,
Guardiola’s rare defeats have come against teams that have known how
to use the counter-attack and here all three Chelsea goals came from
This was Chelsea’s eighth straight win and, like the last at home to
Tottenham, Conte’s side had to come from behind against one of their
This, far more than the Manchester derby in September, appeared like
a contest between two clubs most likely to finish up as Premier
League champions. Everything about the game from the first tackle by
Nicolas Otamendi on Diego Costa that drew the first yellow card of
the game to the cold-eyed way Willian put away Chelsea’s second felt
intense. The game began at 12.30pm but the deep December gloom made
it feel like an evening kick-off.
It was not the usual match at the Etihad Stadium, where the screens
normally proclaim statistics showing that Manchester City enjoyed 70
per cent plus possession. This was an in your face encounter with
space at a premium.
Injuries had forced both managers to make a change. The involvement
of Fabregas, who had last started for Chelsea in September’s debacle
against Arsenal, and Jesus Navas, who replaced Raheem Sterling,
appeared to weaken both teams. In fact, both were involved in their
sides’ respective opening goals while Navas should have had more
than just the one assist.
The referee, Anthony Taylor, was surely right to dismiss both Aguero
and Fernandinho but the interval had seen him booed off. There were
two incidents. The first had come when David Silva had taken the
ball past Gary Cahill, who had lost his footing and then appeared to
touch the ball in the penalty area with his forearm.
Later in the first half, Aguero seized on a weak pass from Cesar
Azpilicueta 35 yards out and then tried to take the ball past Luiz
before falling. It appeared that Luiz had fouled him. It was a long
way out but Luiz was the last man and Taylor must have considered a
red card. To Guardiola’s fury, he gave nothing. The battle between
the Argentine and the Brazilian simmered for the remainder of the
match before boiling over completely.
Midway through the first half, Manchester City took control of the
game with Thibaut Courtois tipping a fierce shot from Aguero over
the bar and then, just as the interval beckoned, one of Navas’
less-threatening crosses was diverted past his own keeper by
Cahill’s outstretched leg.
The quarter of an hour after the restart was the period when
Manchester City ought to have won this game. De Bruyne forced
Courtois into one save and then somehow deflected Navas’ cross on to
the bar. In between Aguero had seized on a weak pass from Marcos
Alonso, taken it past the keeper and only a diving block from Cahill
stopped the second.
Almost immediately after De Bruyne’s miss, Chelsea equalised. A long
ball from Fabregas was brought under control by Diego Costa, who
out muscled Otamendi, turned and shot. Ten minutes later, Chelsea
broke away again. A long pass from Costa found Willian clear on goal
and the Brazilian did not miss. Guardiola responded by throwing on
every available striker but once more Chelsea waited for the moment
to strike and Eden Hazard’s goal was the cue for the stadium to
empty. Those who remained saw what was a great footballing contest
disintegrate into an open brawl.
Manchester City: Bravo; Otamendi, Stones (Iheanacho 78), Kolarov;
Fernandinho, Gundogan (Toure 76); Navas, De Bruyne, Silva, Sane
(Clichy 69); Aguero. Substitutes: Caballero (g),
Sagna, Zabaleta, Fernando.
Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Fabregas,
Alonso; Pedro (Willian 50), Costa, Hazard.
Substitutes: Begovic (g), Ivanovic, Oscar, Batshuayi, Chalobah, Aina.
Referee: Anthony Taylor