Crystal Palace 0 Manchester
City 3 Eagles Grounded
Saturday 28th January 2017 : Phil Gartside for
GYKO at Selhust Park
Manchester City gave a glimpse of their
glistening future here at Selhurst Park, beating Crystal Palace 3-0
to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup.
This competition is not Pep Guardiola’s priority, Kevin De Bruyne
was on the bench and Sergio Aguero was left at home, with City
preparing for a Premier League trip to West Ham United on Wednesday.
But he fielded a thrilling young front three of Leroy Sane, Gabriel
Jesus and Raheem Sterling, who was the oldest of them at just 22.
Sane, Sterling and Gabriel tore Palace apart, combining for City’s
brilliant first two goals, before Yaya Toure capped it off with a
brilliant free-kick at the end. They all played with imagination,
skill, but above all with pace, providing exactly the type of threat
Guardiola wants from his forwards. Guardiola hailed them post-match
as the “future” of the club, and it was easy to imagine watching
them that this could be City’s front line for the next 10 years.
As well as Sane and Sterling played, Gabriel was the most impressive
of the three. He set up Sterling’s goal, played a part in Sane’s and
should have grabbed one for himself at the end. All of this in his
first start in English football, after just one substitute
appearance on Saturday. He played through a heavy second-half
hailstorm and some pretty rudimentary tackling but looked remarkably
well-adjusted to English football. He looked strong, canny,
enthusiastic and brave. On this showing City have bought well.
This was not as complete a performance as City’s 5-0 win at West Ham
in the third round. But it was not far away. The first 15 minutes or
so of this match was the most one-sided opening spell to any game
this season. It is no exaggeration to say that Crystal Palace could
not get a touch on the ball, and City swarmed all over them from the
start. David Silva and Sane both missed chances to give City the
As is often the case, City could not maintain their intensity and
they let Palace in a few times on the break. Vincent Kompany, making
his first start since November, completing his first 90 minutes
since September, had to cut out a few counter-attacks But just as
their control of the first half started to slip, they took the lead
with a brilliant opening goal. Jesus dropped back into midfield,
picked up the ball, turned and played a perfect pass through to
Sterling. Running through on goal, Sterling shaped to shoot across
Wayne Hennessey but tucked the ball into the near post instead.
Jesus nearly scored himself just before the half-time whistle, but
City took their foot off the gas early in the second half and nearly
allowed Palace back into it. But Palace never had enough quality to
punish them, half-time substitute Loic Remy volleying their best
chance over the bar. When City turned it back up they killed the
game with a brilliant second goal.
Silva ran forward with the ball down the middle of the pitch.
Gabriel made a clever decoy run across the box, dragging the defence
with him. Sane ran around the back, behind Martin Kelly, and Silva’s
pass found him. Sane finished into the bottom corner. A clever team
just as precise and incisive as the first.
Gabriel still wanted a goal for himself and should have had one when
he beat Kelly and skipped past Hennessey in the last minute, only to
slip on the wet turf.
There was just enough time for a third, and it came not from the
debutant but from a City veteran. Toure had a free-kick 30 yards
from goal which he curled into the near top corner of the goal.
City’s past did not want the whole afternoon to be about City’s
Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1): Hennessey; Ward, Kelly, Tomkins, Schlupp
(Fryers, 75); Flamini, Ledley; Lee, Mutch (McArthur, 65), Townsend;
Benteke (Remy, 45).
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Caballero; Sagna, Kompany, Kolarov,
Clichy; Toure, Delph; Sterling (Navas, 66), Silva (Fernando, 78),
Sane (Nolito, 84); Gabriel.
Referee Michael Jones
Manchester City 2 Tottenham
Hotspurs 2 Jesus at the Etihad
Saturday 21st January 2017 : GYKO at the
Just when Manchester City thought they were out
of it, Tottenham Hotspur pull them back in. Mauricio Pochettino’s
side came back from 2-0 down to claim a draw at the Etihad that will
re-assert their credentials, but those basic facts barely tell the
story of a riveting psychodrama of a game that, really, was decided
by hands as much as heads.
For once, they were no Claudio Bravo’s hands, even if he could have
done better on the Heung-Min Son’s decisive final goal of the game.
It was instead Hugo Lloris making two errors in this game for City
to go ahead through Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne, but also referee
Andre Marriner, as he somehow failed to award a penalty for Kyle
Walker’s blatant push on Raheem Sterling when through on goal at
It was instead left to Spurs to show they can push on, as they
finally avoided a demoralising defeat at the home of one of their
rivals for the first time since the 1-1 draw. That could be a
landmark moment for Pochettino, but Guardiola can justifiably feel
aggrieved that it wasn’t a transformative moment for his own team.
The irony, and frustration was that he had done so much to right the
problems of the last few weeks and that City had clearly done enough
to win the game.
Those are the thin margins, as so much work was undone in one
Undoubtedly stung by all the debate and criticism of the last week
since the Everton game, City started by clearly looking to make a
point, and looking much more like a Guardiola team. There was an
intricacy and intensity to their attack again.
Part of that was probably because this wasn’t the same Tottenham
either, at least in defence. With Jan Vertonghen injured, City so
conspicuously looked to play right through the centre, rather their
more common route of the wings. It almost paid off several times in
that opening 20 minutes alone. Raheem Sterling was pulled a little
too wide after one brilliant interchange with Kevin De Bruyne and
Sergio Aguero; David Silva and Pablo Zabaleta both shot narrowly
wide from just outside the area, and Toby Alderweireld had to put in
a brilliant last-man challenge to deny the Argentine defender when
just in front of goal.
It was vintage Guardiola counter-intuitiveness in some senses. After
weeks of criticism about his defence, that reached a peak in the
last few days, the Catalan looked to get his side back on form by
going completely on the front foot. This was a team crammed with
attackers, with Yaya Toure as the sole defensive midfielder against
one of the best pressing teams in Europe - except it was City here
doing all the pressing. They were forcing Tottenham into a lot of
errors and slips around Hugo Lloris’ goal, and into an unusually
meek initial display.
That did raise a question, though. Was it all City forcing Spurs
back - or had Mauricio Pochettino realised it was as well to save
energy and wait to break against a backline that suspect; that
Guardiola’s attack weren’t willing to let them find out, as they
just relentlessly pressed Tottenham like Tottenham so often do to so
many others. They should really have been out of sight by the break,
as the last 10 minutes of the half saw Leroy Sane put a header wide
and Aguero put one into Lloris’s hands.
Then, the game was completely inverted. Lloris was guilty of a
mishap that even Bravo would struggle to produce. It won’t go
unnoticed, of course, that it also came from the most traditional of
English routes. Nicolas Otamendi slid in with a industrial tackle,
De Bruyne lofted the ball forward and Lloris somehow missed it with
his head to ensure Sane couldn’t possibly miss with his foot.
So clearly rattled, Spurs and Lloris crumpled again just four
minutes as later, as the goalkeeper spilled the ball at the feet of
De Bruyne for his first league goal since September.
City still couldn’t get too confident or comfortable in themselves,
though, as they were instantly reminded of why they have had such
issues; why they haven’t produced this level of performance so
consistently: those holes at the back that so often suck out so much
of their assurance.
Spurs found another on 58 minutes. Venturing forward, Harry Kane -
who only had 11 touches in the first half - pushed the ball out
wide, to give Gael Clichy a dilemma. He could have come out, but
instead hesitated as Kyle Walker surged onto the ball. The wing-back
put in a perfect cross, and Dele Alli powered in another header.
The season for both of these teams, then, may well have been turned
on its head.
City were still purring even after that goal, to the point that a
series of attacks eventually saw Sterling power through on goal for
what should have been the clincher. Just as he was about to shoot,
though, Walker clearly pushed him to unbalance.
Although Sterling was going to ground, he got a tame shot off, and
that is the only possible reason that Andre Marriner could not have
given a penalty.
An irate Guardiola could not believe it, and couldn’t contain his
anger, as Spurs immediately went up the other end and equaliser.
It was perhaps the goal of the match, as Christian Eriksen burst
through for Kane to then exquisitely push the ball on oncoming
substitute Heung-min Son to roll it beyond Bravo’s reach.
A moment of crisp clarity amid so much chaos.There was still more as
City’s substitute Gabriel Jesus had a goal ruled out for offside on
No-one could quite grasp it. The title may well be handed to
Manchester City: Bravo Kolarov Otamendi
Clichy (Stones 84’) Zabaleta Silva (Delph 90’) De Bruyne Sterling (G
Jesus 82’) Touré Sané Agüero
Unused subs: Fernando, Nolito, Kompany, Caballero
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris Alderweireld (Winks 65’) Dier Wimmer (Son
46’} Rose Dembélé (Sissoko 78’) Wanyama Walker Kane Eriksen Alli
Unused subs: Carter-Vickers, Vorm, Trippier, Davies
Referee: A. Marriner
Attendance 54402 .
Everton 4 Manchester City 0
Lucky to get Nil
Sunday 15th January 2016 : Eddie Griffin for
GYKO at Goodison Park
Pep Guardiola conceded Manchester City were out of the Premier
League title race after enduring the heaviest league defeat of his
managerial career against Everton.
City were beaten 4-0 at Goodison Park where two teenagers, the
impressive Tom Davies and the new signing Ademola Lookman, scored
their first Everton goals and two Belgium internationals, Romelu
Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas, were also on the scoresheet. The defeat
left City 10 points adrift of the league leaders Chelsea and outside
the Champions League qualification places.
Asked whether City were out of the title race, Guardiola replied:
“Yes. The first one is a 10-point gap and that is a lot. The second
one is three points, so we have to see. I spoke with the players for
the last three weeks to forget about the table, focus on the next
game and do our best. After that, at the end of the season, we’ll
analyse how our level was, our performance, the coach, the players.
After we are going to decide.”
Everton opened the scoring with their first shot on target – the
fourth time in seven Premier League games City have fallen behind to
an opening attempt. Guardiola insisted the problem lay not with his
defence but the team’s failure to convert one of several chances
before Lukaku struck. He said: “Believe me, I would like to know why
[it keeps happening] I will be concerned and worried when the
opponents arrive six or seven times and create a lot of chances.
That’s then our problem to control the game.
“I know in many cases the people don’t agree with me but to control
the game means you have the possession to create enough chances and
concede as few as possible. That has happened. But what happens when
they arrive for the first time it’s a goal. Gaël Clichy loses the
ball, they make the counterattack and we don’t have our line. To
avoid that you put the ball up. Then you lose the ball because our
strikers are our strikers, and 10 men behind the ball. Maybe we
would be solid with that but I don’t believe in it.
“I want us to get better and better and feel we are able to score
goals. When that happens we are going to suffer less behind. Our
strikers will have more confidence. It is tough for the players. I
was a player and understand how tough it is for them right now. We
are trying to do absolutely everything. But it’s not the first time
it’s happened this season.”
Everton: Robles Williams Funes Mori Holgate Baines Coleman Davies
Barry McCarthy 74’ Mirallas Schneiderlin 65’ Lukaku Barkley Lookman
subs: Jagielka, Stekelenburg, Lennon, Valencia
Manchester City: Bravo Sagna Otamendi Stones Clichy De Bruyne Touré
Zabaleta Iheanacho 61’ Silva Agüero Sterling
Unused subs: Caballero, Delph, Kolarov, García, Sané, Navas,
Referee: M. Clattenburg; Attendance: 39588
West Ham United 0 Manchester City 5
Friday 6th January 2017: Connor McAlinden for
GYKO at the London Stadium
It was cold,
wet and horrible – the kind of night to make a continental manager
pine for those winter breaks. There have been plenty of pictures
doing the rounds in recent days of European players reclining on
beach loungers in expensive-looking locations. Pep Guardiola’s
pleasure was a first taste of football’s oldest competition.
It all turned out rather nicely. The spotlight had burned intensely
on the Manchester City manager, a result of a few sketchy results in
December and his tetchiness after his team’s home win over Burnley
last Monday. He had given the impression of being a little embattled
with this English football lark. The vultures were circling.
West Ham 0-5 Manchester City: FA Cup third round – as it happened
His City team gave a powerhouse performance, shaped by a virtuoso
display from David Silva, the floating midfield sprite, and marked
by ruthlessness. It was an occasion when everything went right for
Guardiola’s team. Take the fourth goal. Yaya Touré sliced his shot
following Raheem Sterling’s pass back to him but it flew perfectly
into Sergio Agüero’s space and he touched home deftly.
The game had turned on a soft 33rd-minute penalty, awarded after
Pablo Zabaleta drew contact from Angelo Ogbonna. Touré rifled it
past Adrián. But City had been the better team up until that point
and they cut loose thereafter.
Sterling pressured Havard Nordtveit into putting through his own
goal and Silva ended the game as a contest with the third before
half-time. He practically had a cigar out before he placed his shot
Slaven Bilic was still smouldering after West Ham’s 2-0 loss to
Manchester United here on Monday, when Sofiane Feghouli had been
wrongly sent off in the 15th minute. The card would be rescinded but
it was too little, too late. “I still feel angry and disappointed,”
Bilic said, earlier on Friday.
He could express his exasperation over the penalty award but this
was a night when West Ham were outclassed by a strong Guardiola
Bilic used Dimitri Payet only as a 57th-minute substitute and the
winger managed to nutmeg Agüero. There was precious little else for
West Ham to remember. Feghouli blew their only clear chance at 1-0
down and it was a terrible miss from close range.
Guardiola’s lineups are routinely difficult to classify, such is the
movement of his players and the manner in which they interchange
positions, and nobody is harder to pin down than Silva. His licence
to roam was pronounced and so, too, was his threat.
There was one lovely cutback in the early running for Zabaleta, who
offered a passable impression of a box-to-box midfielder, and his
shot was blocked by Winston Reid while, from a Gaël Clichy pass,
Silva worked Adrián.
Watching football in this vast bowl remains a curious experience.
There were moments here when the noise levels rose sharply but many
more when it all seemed to drift away on the breeze. Perhaps City
simply succeeded in taking the sting out of the occasion.
Their passing was too slick for West Ham and it felt symbolic that
Bilic’s team did not even pick up a yellow card in what was a
humiliation. They could not get close to their City counterparts.
The visitors had further advertised the opening goal through
Sterling and Agüero. The first chance was created by Silva only for
Sterling to choose the wrong option in jinking inside Nordtveit;
Reid nipped back to tackle. Agüero’s effort was a beautifully
sculpted side-on volley, after Michail Antonio’s ropey clearance.
Adrián tipped over.
It took the penalty to break the deadlock and it was a depressing
moment for West Ham and Ogbonna. Everybody inside the stadium knew
that Zabaleta was going to take a touch following Silva’s cute pass
and then see if there was any contact to be had inside the area.
Thanks to Ogbonna, there was. Did Zabaleta initiate it? Possibly.
Yet it was there and the referee, Michael Oliver, was entitled to
point to the spot. From West Ham’s point of view, it just felt so
West Ham’s big moment came immediately after the penalty. Antonio
bustled through and his shot was pushed out by Willy Caballero but
only as far as Feghouli. He looked odds-on to score but when Clichy
dived into a saving challenge, he managed to distract him and
Feghouli shot badly wide. Antonio had also worked Caballero on 14
City summoned a devastating one-two punch. First, Bacary Sagna ran
on to Agüero’s ball forward and put a devilish delivery into the
area towards Sterling. In front of his own goal, Nordtveit was in
that unenviable position for a defender. He could not leave it; he
had to do something. The right-back stretched out his right leg but
he succeeded only in diverting it past Adrián.
Minutes later, it was 3-0. Sterling swapped passes with Agüero and
bombed away and, when he looked across, he had Silva completely
unmarked in the centre. Silva had the time and composure to take a
touch following Sterling’s low cross and, with Adrián grounded,
impudently rolled the ball past him.
Guardiola could afford to remove Silva on 57 minutes, and Kevin De
Bruyne and Touré after that, and the last word went to John Stones.
From the substitute Nolito’s corner, he flashed home a header that
the goalline technology showed had crossed the line before Mark
Noble’s attempted clearance. It was Stones’s first goal for City
since joining last summer.
West Ham: Adrian, Nordtveit, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Fernandes,
Obiang, Feghouli, Lanzini, Antonio, Carroll.
Subs: Randolph, Noble, Fletcher, Payet, Calleri, Oxford, Quina.
Manchester City: Caballero, Sagna, Stones, Otamendi, Clichy, Toure,
Zabaleta, De Bruyne, Silva, Sterling, Aguero. Subs: Nolito, Kolarov,
Jesus Navas, Delph, Iheanacho, Garcia, Bravo.
Referee Michael Oliver
Manchester City 2 Burnley 1
10 Man City Scrape Home
Monday 2nd January 2017: GYKO at the Etihad
When Pep Guardiola’s achievements are measured in May, the second
half of this match might prove to be the most vital 45 minutes of
Manchester City had been booed off at the interval. Fernandinho’s
third red card in the space of six weeks had ensured they were down
to 10 men and they had been as formless and incoherent as they had
been during the defeat at Liverpool on New Year’s Eve. They were in
fifth place. A game against a team that had picked up one point away
from Turf Moor all season had spiralled wildly out of control. Had
they lost this match, their season would have been in danger of
collapse. They finished the game in third, seven behind Chelsea.
It was some salvage operation that began with Guardiola bringing on
David Silva and Sergio Aguero, who along with John Stones had been
the casualties of the defeat at Anfield. The fact that Guardiola was
prepared to drop three of his most influential footballers
demonstrated the manager’s mood and his ruthlessness.
Aguero scored the second, and as it turned out, the decisive goal of
the afternoon. It was his 153rd for Manchester City, drawing him
level with Colin Bell, and it was the kind only a natural-born
striker could have scored.
City were already one up through Gael Clichy’s improbable strike
from the edge of the area when Ben Mee’s error allowed Raheem
Sterling a clear run on goal. As Tom Heaton spread himself, the toe
of Sterling’s boots caught in the turf. The ball came back to
Aguero. The angle was tight and there were two defenders on the
line. The shot smacked against the inside of the post and bisected
It may have been easier for Sean Dyche to keep his temper during the
interval but his Burnley side came out to face a delicate equation.
A point at the Etihad Stadium would count as a very good day’s work
– would they risk exposing themselves and go for all three?
Burnley dallied and were punished in the most unlikely way. The way
Clichy struck the ball from the corner of the 18-yard line into the
corner of Heaton’s net belied the fact that this was his first goal
at the Etihad Stadium. He had joined the club five years ago.
Manchester City’s goals made Burnley’s minds up for them. They
pulled one back in extraordinary fashion. Claudio Bravo, who tipped
a shot from Michael Keane over the bar in stoppage time, dropped a
relatively straightforward ball. Nicolas Otamendi cleared it off the
line, Mee shot it back towards goal and the referee Lee Mason ruled
it had crossed the line.
Despite the fact that goal-line technology had been used to make the
decision, Manchester City’s players decided to besiege Mason’s
assistant in a futile attempt to have it reversed.
There had been similar protests when Fernandinho was shown a
straight red card in the 32nd minute after he launched himself at
Johann Berg Gudmundsson. The Brazilian’s feet were off the ground
when he began the tackle and on the turf when he finished it. It was
probably a straight orange but by losing control, Fernandinho,
captaining Manchester City, had been stupidly reckless.
Guardiola has a policy of never commenting on refereeing decisions
but his reactions demonstrated what he thought of Mason’s decision.
He tore off the cagoule he was wearing, waved his arms around and
launched into a furious discussion with anyone who would listen.
If his dismissal in the 1-1 draw at Borussia Monchengladbach was
soft, this was a poorly-judged tackle which will lead to another ban
– this time for four matches.
It was Manchester City’s seventh red card of the season which is
some total under a manager not associated with tackling.
At the final whistle the whole stadium dissolved into a relieved
cheer. This was proof of what Guardiola had been told in July.
Nothing in this league can be taken for granted.
Manchester City: (4-2-3-1) Bravo; Sagna, Otamendi, Kolarov, Clichy;
Toure, Fernandinho; Navas (Silva ht), De Bruyne, Sterling (Stones
89); Iheanacho (Aguero ht). Substitutes: Caballero (g), Zabaleta,
Burnley: (4-4-2) Heaton; Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward; Boyd, Arfield (Bamford
88), Hendrick, Gudmundsson (Defour 59); Barnes (Vokes 68), Gray.
Substitutes: Robinson (g), Tarkowski, Darikwa, O’Neill.
Referee: Lee Mason