Manchester City 5 Crystal
Palace 0 Demolition of the Palace
Saturday 23rd September 2017 : GYKO at the
A glance at the Premier League table on Saturday
morning suggested that this should be a cakewalk for Manchester
City, the division’s leaders and joint-top scorers, against a
Crystal Palace outfit that has made the worst-ever start to a
The south Londoners made them wait for their walkover, however. Like
a typical Roy Hodgson team, sitting deep and thoroughly drilled,
Palace had several chances to take the lead and frustrated their
hosts for the best part of the first 45 minutes. Then, the
Once Leroy Sané’s brilliant breakthrough put City ahead on the cusp
of half-time, it felt inevitable that this contest would end with a
large margin on the scoreboard. A Raheem Sterling brace, a Sergio
Aguero header and a late beauty from forgotten man Fabian Delph made
it five in all and consigned the visitors to their sixth consecutive
Palace still have no win, no points or no goals in a season that, at
six weeks old, can hardly be called ‘new’ anymore, and they almost
shot themselves in the foot as early as the seventh minute. Mamadou
Sakho, making his first Premier League start since completing his
long-awaited move from Liverpool last month, thought it wise to
clear a Kevin De Bruyne cross by sending a diving header towards his
own goal. It hit the post.
That moment sent a shudder through the away support but it was not
long before Palace responded in kind. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the young
Chelsea loanee searching for his first consistent run of top-flight
minutes, caught the eye playing off lone striker Christian Benteke
and no more so than when some nimble footwork beat John Stones and
his deflected shot hit the outside of the upright.
The 21-year-old had another chance to end Palace’s record-breaking
wait for a Premier League goal – which now stands at 540 long
minutes – when a Timothy Fosu-Mensah cross deflected into his path
off Fernandinho, but his sliced attempt glanced across the face of
goal. It was the home support’s turn to be nervy now and they will
also be sweating over the fitness of Benjamin Mendy, who departed on
the half hour mark after injuring himself in a clumsy tackle on
With the half-time whistle nearing, Guardiola called a ball-boy over
for what looked like a forceful chat. The message was clear: release
it quicker, we need to score. He did not have long to wait. Sané and
David Silva had already combined effectively to tee up Sergio
Aguero, only for the Argentine to loft a clear chance over the
This time, they took matters into their own hands, exchanging a neat
one-two, with Silva lifting the ball over the top of on-rushing
Palace defenders. Sané still had a man to beat but did so
brilliantly, playing Paul Gascoigne to Scott Dann’s Colin Hendry,
before slotting in at Hennessey’s near post. It was a sublime goal.
Palace’s resistance was now broken and from thereon, the game played
out as predicted. Sterling’s first was a painfully simple goal to
concede from Hodgson’s perspective, with the winger free to guide
Sané’s cut-back into the net after being found in space at the far
post. He should have added another minutes later from a similar
position after Hennessey failed to claim a cross but, from a tight
angle, hit the side-netting.
He found his second just before the hour mark and it was another
finish taken with ease after Aguero sent De Bruyne’s raking pass
back across the face of goal. Palace’s heads, by this point, had
fully dropped and City were able to have their way with them.
Even with his players in full flow, Guardiola still found time to
rage at the officials on occasion and was particularly displeased by
their failure to award a penalty against Fosu-Mensah, who tugged
Sané down in the box while City were searching for their fourth. No
matter though, as it came a few minutes later.
Aguero, who began the day three goals away from surpassing Eric
Brook as City’s all-time leading goal scorer, moved one step closer
to the record by heading the ball through Hennessey’s limp hands. It
was left to Delph, on for Stones, to round off the victory and the
midfielder did so in emphatic fashion, arcing a long-range effort in
off the underside of the crossbar. More misery for Palace, but City
were in no mood to show mercy.
(4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones (Delph 70), Otamendi, Mendy
(Danilo 29); De Bruyne, Fernandinho, D Silva; Sterling
(Bernardo 61), Aguero, Sané.
Substitutes not used: Bravo, Toure, Jesus, Mangala.
Crystal Palace (4-4-1-1): Hennessey; Fosu-Mensah,
Sakho, Dann, Van Aanholt; Townsend, Milivojevic, Cabaye
(Puncheon 57), Schlupp; Loftus-Cheek; Benteke (Sako 72).
Substitutes not used: Speroni, Tomkins, Ward, McArthur,
Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)
West Bromwich Albion 1
Manchester City 2 Baggies Come Close
Wednesday 20th September 2017 : Liam O'Connor
for GYKO at the Hawthorns
Leroy Sane’s classy double strike fired a
dominant Manchester City into round four of the Carabao Cup but only
after Pep Guardiola’s men had survived a big scare at The Hawthorns.
There was no denying the Premier League leaders deserved to progress
for an utterly dominant first-half display that brought the opening
goal from Sane after less than three minutes.
Yet their failure to kill off Tony Pulis’s men looked set to land
them with extra-time when Claudio Yacob equalised with 18 minutes to
go and Albion even missed chances to sneak ahead.
Sane finally took charge on 77 minutes with an expertly-taken
winner, only for West Brom to rattle the woodwork again in the dying
That left the fitness of Ilkay Gundogan as Guardiola’s main worry
after the German limped off 59 minutes into his latest comeback
The midfielder had starred in his first start since damaging a
cruciate knee ligament nine months ago but he was forced off after
appearing to twist his other leg awkwardly.
The deadlock was broken with less than two and a half minutes played
when City found holes in the Albion defence with relative ease.
Raheem Sterling exploited space on the City right to cross for Ilkay
Gundogan and the midfielder’s shot was only parried by goalkeeper
Ben Foster as far as Sane.
The winger drilled the rebound into the roof of the net
West Brom believed briefly that they had levelled on 10 minutes when
a ball broke for Hal Robson-Kanu to finish from close range.
But referee Mike Jones ruled out the goal for a foul by Grzegorz
Krychowiak on Sane.
City were dominating possession, however, and they were twice denied
a second goal in the 19th minute.
First, West Brom defender Gareth McAuley produced
a superb block from a shot by Gundogan after smart pass by Sterling.
Them, from the resulting corner, Sane crossed for Eliaquim Mangala,
whose header was beaten away by the diving Foster.
Gabriel Jesus should have doubled the lead on 25 minutes with a
chance that he fashioned superbly for himself.
His quick footwork outwitted Gareth McAuley on the edge of the West
Brom six-yard box, but the winger could not keep down his shot and
it cleared the crossbar.
City had toyed with West Brom for much of the opening 30 minutes
with Gundogan the chief tormentor, and on the half-hour he danced
through the home defence again into the penalty area.
His progress was only halted when Albion midfielder Claudio Yacob
got back to make a crucial challenge.
Sane sent an ambitious effort from distance wide of Foster’s goal
just before the interval as City failed to add to his early opener.
But there was no hiding the total dominance of Guardiola’s men, who
statistics showed had enjoyed almost 70 per cent of the first-half
And they were denied superbly in stoppage time by Foster, whose
one-handed save kept out Sterling’s bending effort.
The opening chance of the second half fell to West Brom when Craig
Dawson delivered a cross onto the head of Jay Rodriguez.
But the Albion striker glanced a header wide after drifting away
Yaya Toure then went down after being caught by Hal Robson-Kanu
before Gundogan’s impressive night came to a premature end.
He produced a superb run of around 60 yards that was ended by a
sliding challenge from Yacob that left the German in obvious pain in
his left knee - the opposite one to that which sidelined him
He was called off immediately by Guardiola and replaced by Kyle
West Brom were much improved in the second period and, after James
Morrison had sent an effort inches wide, Yacob popped up with the
It owed much to poor defending from City, who left both Yacob and
Jonny Evans unmarked in the six-yard box to meet a Kieran Gibbs
The hosts should even have claimed the lead moments later when
substitute Matt Phillips supplied a perfect cross for Robson-Kanu,
only for the Wales striker to fire horribly wide.
And he was made to pay by Sane on 77 minutes when the German
collected Bernardo Silva’s pass, cut inside Craig Dawson and curled
a superb shot into the top corner.
Robson-Kanu missed a huge chance to equalise in stoppage-time when,
unmarked, he blasted against the post from eight yards.
West Brom (3-5-2): Foster; Dawson,
McAuley (Phillips 62), Evans; Nyom, Krychowiak, Yacob (McClean
80), Morrison, Gibbs; Rodriguez (Rondon 67), Robson-Kanu
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Bravo; Danilo, Stones,
Mangala, Delph; Toure, Gundogan (Walker 59); Sane
(Fernandinho 79), B Silva, Sterling; Jesus
Mike Jones Attendance :
Watford 0 Manchester City 6
Watford Gap Widens
Saturday 16th September 2017 : David Walker
for GYKO at Vicarage Road
Manchester City have blasted their way to the top
of the Premier League and only an exceptional team will be able to
challenge them. Watford, watched by Elton John and unbeaten before
men rocked up here, fancied their chances but were blown away by a
three-goal salvo before half-time.
City did not relent and struck the same number again in the second
half, bringing their tally to 15 goals from their past three
matches, this demonstration of their attacking power coming after
the demolitions of Liverpool and Feyenoord.
City settled the contest in the first half thanks to a three-goal
salvo in 10 minutes. Sergio Agüero scored twice and created one for
Gabriel Jesus. Nicolás Otamendi added a fourth after the interval
with a close-range header. Then Agüero rounded off his hat-trick,
which is why he was happy to let Raheem Sterling take the penalty
when the winger was fouled a minute from time. Sterling expressed
his gratitude by finishing with the ruthlessness he sometimes lacks.
Watford had come into the game on the back of three successive clean
sheets in the Premier League but with their first-choice
centre-backs still out injured extending that sequence to four was
always going to be a tall order against one of Europe’s most awesome
Guardiola made one alteration to the City lineup that had started
the midweek dismantling of Feyenoord in the Champions League, with
Sterling replacing Bernardo Silva. It took him 20 seconds to make an
impact as Sterling skittered down the right and delivered a low
cross to David Silva. Adrian Mariappa blocked the Spaniard’s
close-range shot, but the storm was never going to abate.
David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne orchestrated City’s relentless
assaults. Benjamin Mendy thrashed a 20-yard shot just over the bar
before, in the 10th minute, David Silva swept a diagonal pass over
to De Bruyne, who cushioned the ball into the path of Sterling.
However, the England winger mis-hit his shot from 10 yards. That
was the only stain on an otherwise sparkling display by Sterling.
De Bruyne and Agüero went close with shots from outside the area as
Watford were corralled deep into their own half. Yet in the 24th
minute the hosts almost took a surprise lead from their first
venture forward, Richarlison meeting a free-kick by José Holebas and
heading a yard wide.
Agüero soon showed the Brazilian how it should be done. In the 27th
minute, after Tom Cleverley was penalised near halfway for a foul on
John Stones, De Bruyne flighted in the free-kick and Agüero headed
past Heurelho Gomes, much to the annoyance of Marco Silva, the
Watford manager appealing vigorously for offside.
The rain was hurtling down and the sky soon fell in on Watford.
Agüero scored his second four minutes later, tapping into the net
from four yards after excellent work on the left by Jesus and a
feeble attempt by Gomes to cut out David Silva’s cross.
Agüero then became the supplier, running at Watford’s frazzled
defence before slipping a pass through to Jesus, who fired into the
bottom corner of the net from 10 yards.
Watford were inferior, no doubt about that, but never submissive.
They rebelled quite strongly at the start of the second half and
even had Ederson in the City goal worried for a moment, André
Carrillo cracking a fine volley a couple of yards wide from the
right-hand corner of the box.
Then Agüero resumed his quest for his hat-trick, twice shooting wide
after being fed by Mendy. On the hour the Argentinian was thwarted
by Gomes, who batted a crisp shot over the bar. The resultant corner
led to City’s fourth goal, Otamendi heading home a cross by David
Nine minutes from time Agüero finally completed his treble. And with
brio, too. After a fine run and pass by Kyle Walker, the striker
burst past Christian Kabasele and guided a low shot beyond the reach
of the advancing Gomes.
Another tricky run by Sterling provoked a foul in the box in the
89th minute. The winger picked himself up, consulted with Agüero and
rifled the ball into the net from the penalty spot.
City, then, surpassed the 5-0 defeat they inflicted on Walter
Mazzarri’s Watford back in May. Under Silva they are much better and
went into this game knowing that a win would send them to the top of
English football for the first time since 1982-83. Graham Taylor’s
team finished that campaign as runners-up. City were relegated. That
part of the history is certainly not going to be repeated any time
Watford: Gomes, Kabasele, Mariappa, Janmaat, Holebas,
Doucouré, Cleverley (Pereyra 64’), Chalobah (Capoue 70’)
Carrillo de Andrade, Gray (Deeney 74’)
Unused subs Zeegelaar, Pereyra, Wagué, Success Ajayi,
Manchester City: Ederson, Otamendi, Walker, Stones,
Mendy, De Bruyne (Gundogan 66’) Sterling, Silva (Sane 78’),
Fernandinho, Agüero, de Jesus (Bernardo 65’)
Unused subs Delph, Mangala, Danilo, Bravo
Referee : Anthony Taylor
Feyenoord 0 Manchester City 4
Wednesday 13th February 2017 : Les Bailey for
GYKO at the
For the serial European under-achievers of
Manchester City, this was a great night. They have only won their
Champions League group once, from six attempts now, which explains
in part why they have not truly made their mark on the knock-out
So to open their campaign like this, with an emphatic 4-0 win away
at Feyenoord, maintaining total control, never once looking
troubled, playing with energy, precision and style, was the perfect
start to their long campaign. Especially as Napoli, the next best
team in the group, lost away in Ukraine at the same time. It is
already advantage City in Group F, and if they do not win it from
here, it would be entirely their mistake.
But while this was a great European night for City, it was not a
great night for Europe. The Champions League is meant to provide
robust competition between the continent’s best teams. This was the
Dutch champions, remember, with their bright young coach, in their
historic stadium, cheered on by 44,000 loyal fans. It should have
been a test. But it felt more like City playing an FA Cup game away
to a Championship team.
The gap between the teams was so big that at no point did this feel
like an even contest, especially with City scoring their first after
two minutes and their second after 10. It was all far too easy. City
kept the ball in midfield, run again by David Silva and Kevin de
Bruyne. When they wanted to go forward, get in behind and score,
they did. Had they needed to score more than four, they could have
done. The home crowd started loud but soon enough their only cheers
were for fouls.
On the surface it was one of the great evenings of the Pep Guardiola
era at City. Even when they are this good going forward they are not
usually this tight at the back. It was very reminiscent of the
second half against Liverpool on Saturday afternoon, when they put
three goals past 10 tired men. City now have nine goals in two games
that they might have looked at with some trepidation this time last
But like the Liverpool game, it did not feel like
much of a challenge as it might have done. City were so dominant
that it never felt like a fair fight. Does that show that Feyenoord,
like 10-man Liverpool, were not good enough to cause City problems
and exploit their obvious weaknesses? Or that City play with such
control and authority now that opponents are just rendered
irrelevant? They will need more tests, more than Watford away on
Saturday, to be clear.
Any nerves City might have had about this game cannot have lasted
more than two minutes, with John Stones’ first goal showing up the
uncomfortable distance between the sides. David Silva forced a
corner down the left, took it quickly to Kevin de Bruyne and then
crossed, before the Feyenoord defence could even switch on. Stones
got ahead of Jan-Arie van der Heijden to head, Tonny Vilhena just
stood on the line as the ball rolled through his legs and in.
This is meant to be a club built around the value of hard work; the
club motto, Geen woorden maar daden, means ‘no words but deeds’. But
these players, Dutch champions, could not even make it difficult for
City, who looked like scoring every time they attacked. Eric
Botteghin had to scramble a Jesus header off the line but soon
enough City had their second.
This was a classic Guardiola move, a series of swift incisions,
Aguero to Bernardo Silva to Kyle Walker, bursting down the right. He
whipped in his low cross, Aguero darted away from the defender and
volleyed straight in.
That was the end of the Feyenoord challenge, in truth, and it just
became a question of how many City would score. Aguero had another
saved and when the third came it felt almost farcical. Benjamin
Mendy hammered a 30-yard shot, Brad Jones spilled it and Jesus
tapped it in. The Feyenoord defenders thought he was offside but he
In the second half Guardiola had an eye on other challenges, not
least Watford away on Saturday afternoon. So he took off Aguero on
the hour mark, just as he did to Jesus against Liverpool. For as
long as Guardiola is going to keep playing them both together, he is
going to need them both sharp.
City were just as dangerous as ever, especially when they had De
Bruyne firing in his immaculate set pieces. He worked an angle with
a short corner and curled in a brilliant cross, Stones got up ahead
of Botteghin again, thumping his second goal of the night Brad
With City in complete control of possession, and the game, Sterling,
Leroy Sane and even Fabian Delph came on at the end. The former
Aston Villa man thought about scoring a fifth, then decided against
it. Maybe Vicarage Road will prove harder than this.
Feyenoord (4-3-3): Jones; St Juste,
Botteghin, Van der Heijden, Nelom; Amrabat (Larsson
78), El Ahmadi, Vilhena; Berghuis (Toornstra 46),
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones,
Otamendi, Mendy; De Bruyne, Fernandinho (Sane
72), D Silva (Delph
67), B Silva, Aguero (Sterling 60), Jesus
Referee : Szymon Marciniak
Manchester City 5 Liverpool 0
Scousers Pay The Price
Saturday 9th September 2017 : GYKO at the
Just before the hour mark, and as Gabriel Jesus was replaced by
Leroy Sané amid applause from the home supporters on the back of a
devastating display in front of goal, Kevin De Bruyne could be seen
speaking with David Silva and Sergio Agüero. The Belgian went over
to each in turn and appeared to be telling them what to do. It was
impossible to pick up what he was saying, but given everything that
had happened up until then, it would not
been a surprise to have learned that his message was a simple one:
“Keep going, lads, I’ve got this.”
Manchester City’s biggest home win over Liverpool since September
1935 was a collective pummelling – and one aided by Sadio Mané’s
initially controversial, but ultimately justified, sending-off – but
what it highlighted amid the showers and sunshine of an early autumn
afternoon is just how good De Bruyne is, and just how central he
could be, in more ways than one, to City reclaiming their status as
The 26-year-old was sensational here, assisting City’s first two
goals, scored by Agüero and Jesus, playing a role in their fourth –
put away by Sané – and generally providing a muscular, intelligent
and technically excellent display from an advanced midfield
De Bruyne did not stand out by a distance among those in blue, but
he did stand out, and at times appeared to be playing a completely
different game to everyone else, such was the time and space he was
able to find on the pitch. Little wonder Agüero and Silva listened
so intently to his instructions – they knew as much as anyone that
De Bruyne was in control of proceedings; that he well and truly had
“I am so happy with his performance,” said Pep Guardiola of City’s
No17. “He is good on balls on the feet. He is good running,
attacking the space. He is a complete player, one of our captains.”
With his two assists here, De Bruyne has now provided 39 in all
competitions since arriving from Wolfsburg for £51m in August 2015.
There have also been 23 goals and
numerous man-of-the-match displays. Yet he cannot consider himself
undroppable, and especially while Guardiola continues to deploy a
system containing a three-man midfield in which Fernandinho provides
the defensive support to two playmakers.
De Bruyne is competing to fill one of those spots not only with
David Silva but also Bernado Silva, who is increasingly getting up
to speed after his late arrival from the Confederations Cup and
having signed from Monaco for £43.6m in May. Then there is Yaya
Touré and Ilkay Gündogan to consider, with the latter returning to
City’s matchday squad on Saturday for the first time since tearing
cruciate knee ligaments in December. The competition is fierce and
standards for those involved in the battle for recognition simply
De Bruyne appears to be aware of that if his display here is
anything to go by. Deployed alongside David Silva for a fourth
league match in succession, he tormented those in red from start to
finish, starting off in a right-sided position but continuously
moving across and through the lines. On 20 minutes he popped up on
the left and caused Liverpool’s right-back Trent Alexander Arnold
such concern with his incisive running that the teenager, so assured
so far this season, found himself with no other option but to yank
the midfielder down just outside the area and subsequently receive a
Five minutes later came De Bruyne’s first assist and it told you so
much about his assurance and ability. There was a touch to control
the ball after it came his way from Fernandinho inside the centre
circle and then, with nonchalant ease, a perfectly weighted through
ball to set Agüero running free through the heart of the visitors’
defence. The Argentinean's goal made it six from six home league
games against Liverpool.
The second assist, in first-half stoppage time, was more
straightforward but no less perfectly executed – a left-wing cross
that Jesus fired past Simon Mignolet via a header from an unmarked
position – and then, on 77 minutes, came the pass to Sané, which
eventually led to the German scoring the first of his two goals.
Again De Bruyne was in a central position and, again, Liverpool had
no idea how to handle him.
It should be noted that post-Mané’s sending off Liverpool were
incredibly poor, all but giving up en route to their heaviest defeat
under Jürgen Klopp, but that should not take away from City’s
performance, one full of swagger and ruthlessness, and which
suggests that for all their defensive frailties, which again were on
show here, they have enough in attack to win the title.
And at the heart of it was De Bruyne, the reserved figure who
catches the eye time and time again. Drop him if you dare, Pep.
“This season he is in a good mood, maybe because he is a father,”
said Guardiola. “We are a lucky club to have Kevin.”
Manchester City: Ederson (Bravo 55+1), Stones,
Danilo, Otamendi (Mangala 71’), De Bruyne, Mendy, Silva, Fernandinho,Walker, Jesus (Sane 57’), Agüero
Unused subs Bernardo, Foden, Delph, Gündogan
Liverpool: Mignolet, Matip, Moreno, Alexander-Arnold,
Klavan, Wijnaldum (Milner 58’), Henderson, Can, Firmino
(Solanke 67’), Mané, Salah (Oxlade-Chamberlain 46’)
Unused subs Sturridge, Karius, Gomez, Lovren
Referee : Jonathan Moss Attendance