By Richard Morgan | SkyNews |
David Silva scored twice as Manchester City moved a step closer to the Premier League title with a 2-0 win at Stoke City on Monday night.
Man City broke the deadlock after just 10 minutes at the bet365 Stadium thanks to Silva’s neat side-footed finish. The Spain midfielder then doubled the visitors’ advantage, converting after a lovely move five minutes into the second half.
As a result, Pep Guardiola’s side will now win the Premier League by beating Everton and second-placed Manchester United in their next two fixtures.
Stoke: Butland (6), Bauer (6), Zouma (7), Martins Indi (5), Stafylidis (5), Cameron (6), Allen (6), Ndiaye (7), Choupo-Moting (6), Shaqiri (6), Jese (6)
Subs: Crouch (7), Sobhi (6)
Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (7), Kompany (7), Otamendi (7), Zinchenko (7), Fernandinho (8), De Bruyne (8), Silva (9), Sterling (8), Sane (8), Jesus (8)
Subs: Gundogan (6), Laporte (6)
Man of the match: David Silva
Stoke, meanwhile, remain in the relegation zone and a point from safety with just eight games left of the season.
The champions-elect made the perfect start to proceedings, taking an early lead thanks to yet another brilliant team goals that began with Vincent Kompany at the back.
Man City’s captain fed the returning Fernandinho in midfield and, after a slick exchange of passes involving Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, the England forward’s right-wing cross was swept home by Silva’s composed finish, although Jack Butland may have done better in Stoke’s goal.
Stoke huffed and puffed in the first half, but the closest the hosts came to equalising was when Xherdan Shaqiri’s quick feet saw the Swiss get free to the byline on the right, only for Fernandinho to crucially deflect Badou Ndiaye’s goal-bound shot just past the far post.
The visitors made Stoke pay for that miss when Silva scored his second of the night after 50 minutes, and his eighth league goal of the campaign, as Paul Lambert’s team were again undone by a breathtaking goal.
Stoke made just one alteration from the side that drew with Southampton last time out as Jese replaced the injured Mame Biram Diouf in attack.
Meanwhile, Man City made three changes from the team that beat Chelsea last Sunday, with Vincent Kompany, Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling all recalled.
Fernandinho picked out the Spain international, who then found Jesus lurking just outside the box, with the forward’s lovely return pass allowing Silva to hook the ball over the advancing Butland to give Man City breathing space.
Man City moved up a further gear and were unlucky not to add more goals in the final quarter, but a combination of poor finishing, excellent goalkeeping and bad luck denied both Sterling and the impressive Leroy Sane.
Not that that mattered, and with Man City having now collected 81 points from their 30 league games this season, they have now equalled Leicester City’s total as champions three years ago.
Man of the Match – David Silva
The Spain international ran the show from start to finish in the Potteries on Monday Night Football, with his two goals either side of half-time putting City within touching distance of a third Premier League title.
The midfielder’s opener came with a cushioned finish, while his second meant the 32-year-old has now scored eight league goals this season, his second highest tally in a single campaign in the competition after netting 12 three years ago.
Paul Lambert: “They are as good a team as I have seen in a long time. I think their movement and trying to keep them at bay [was hard].
“I think the way they play the game is terrific, the passing, the movement, you don’t really see it until you get close to it, it’s a very difficult game to stop. They make the pitch very big, when you have the ball and when you don’t have it.
“He was very complimentary to ourselves with the spirit we showed but I went to congratulate him for the way they play the game.”
Stoke City manager Paul Lambert claims Manchester City are the best side he’s seen
Pep Guardiola: “We are very close, it had been 12 months where we have collected a lot of points and just lost one game,” he said.
“It is always a complicated here, but we put in a solid performance and controlled the game and didn’t concede a goal. They had just one chance, so three points more.
“We now have three weeks off and we travel to Abu Dhabi to train there in better weather conditions and to change our habits, stay together and come back strong.”
The pundit – Gary Neville
“What I would say is it’s the best team I’ve seen in terms of their attacking shape being the best defensive shape. They are absolutely perfect when they attack, which means they are perfect when they defend.
“Their attacking positions are such that when they back up play they are in a shape whereby they can sustain every single attack.
“They don’t come out of shape. They are brilliant in their attacking, but also they are brilliant in their defending off the back of their attacking.
“They are the best I’ve seen in terms of their organisation, it really is wonderful to watch – and it is clockwork.”
- Man City have now scored 85 Premier League goals this season – only 11 teams have ever scored more in a completed Premier League campaign.
- David Silva has scored eight Premier League goals this season, his second highest tally in a single campaign in the competition (12 in 2014-15).
- Silva also bagged his second league brace of the campaign – he’d only scored three in his previous seven Premier League seasons combined.
- Only Jonas Lössl (50) has conceded more Premier League goals among goalkeepers than Jack Butland (49) this season.
Gabriel Jesus has played 31 Premier League games without ever being on the losing side (W26 D5). It’s the fourth longest run without defeat from a Premier League debut, after Jens Lehmann (47), Arjen Robben and Didier Drogba (37 each).
Man City travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton. However, the Premier League leaders have to wait until tea time on Saturday March 31 before they are next in action, followed by United at the Etihad in their following fixture on Saturday April 7 in a match you can see live on Sky Sports Premier League.
Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce’s team are also Stoke’s next opponents in the league, with the Potters hosting Everton at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday afternoon.