Guardiola meets half a century of life tomorrow and City gave him a victory as an early gift (4-0). Without suffering too much, with two goals from an inspired Stones and without conceding against a Crystal Palace that had no option in Manchester, blurred when things started to go wrong. Another three points for a City that grows step by step, without making noise, now one point from United. Although now it does not depend on anyone: if he wins against Aston Villa he will lead the Premier.
The Crystal Palace is not fooling anyone. He has survived in the Premier for years with a not very showy game, although Hodgson cannot be questioned about his effectiveness. He is betting that few things happen and he has not done badly to date, although it did not work out against City. Guardiola’s box was armed with patience, the main quality in a meeting in which it was easy to despair, forced to try many things until he got a profit from the night.
Like last year and the previous one, it was difficult for City to unblock itself against a Crystal Palace that does not usually lose its structure, accommodated in a 4-4-2 that provides it with a lot of solidity. It is one of the most working-class teams in England, it does not leave spaces or concede, and it plays pending the good ideas of Eze, a differential footballer who has a lot to mature, often incorrect. You have potential, but you need to learn to choose the best option.
Between attempts came a fabulous center from De Bruyne’s side, drawn with a squad and bevel to Stones, who surpassed Guaita. The Belgian reached one hundred assists and celebrated that anniversary with a pass reserved for the privileged: a gift for the English central defender. Something that took pressure off City, with a reward after attacking, attacking and attacking, a tendency of a clash in which Crystal Palace barely found opportunities to penalize their rival in the Etihad.
The 1-0, however, was a short result, a double-edged sword. But Gündogan put land in the middle with a great shot from the edge, in the continuation of a corner badly defended by Townsend. In another corner kick, Stones sentenced after another bad rebound in the area of a Crystal Palace that bled to death in strategy plays, surrendered to the good work of a City that rounded off the win with a beautiful goal from Sterling from a direct free kick. Guardiola has reason to smile.
Manchester City, 4
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Rúben Dias, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, De Bruyne (Cancelo, 71 ‘), Gündogan (Ferran Torres, 71’); Sterling, Bernardo Silva (Foden, 59 ‘), Gabriel Jesus
Coach: Pep Guardiola
Crystal Palace, 0
Guaita; Ward, Tomkins, Cahill, Mitchell; McCarthy, Milivojevic (Riedewald, 69 ‘), McArthur, Eze; Townsend Batshuayi, 79 ‘), Ayew
Coach: Roy Hodgson
Goals: 1-0, Stones (26 ‘), 2-0, Gündogan (56’), 3-0, Stones (68 ‘), 4-0, Sterling (88’)
Referee: Lee Mason