The Etihad Stadium
FA Premier League
Referee: Mike Dean of the Wirral
|2 Kyle Walker||14 Ricardo Pereira|
|4 Vincent Kompany||6 Johnny Evans|
|14 Aymeric Laporte||15 Harry Maguire|
|35 Oleks Zinchenko||3 Ben Chilwell|
|21 David Silva||Stones 90+1'||25 Onyinye Ndidi|
|8 Ilkay Gündogan||11 Marc Albrighton||Gray 85'|
|47 Philip Foden||Sané 56'||21 Youri Tielemans||Barnes 75'|
|20 Bernardo Silva||38 Hamza Choudhury|
|10 Sergio Agüero||Gabriel Jesus 87'||10 James Maddison||Iheanacho 80'|
|7 Raheem Sterling||9 Jamie Vardy|
|3 Danilo||5 Wes Morgan|
|5 John Stones||7 Damarai Gray|
|19 Leroy Sané||8 Kelechi Iheanacho|
|26 Riyad Mahrez||12 Danny Ward|
|30 Nicolas Otamendi||19 Harvey Barnes|
|33 Gabriel Jesus||24 Nampalys Mendy|
|49 Aro Muric||28 Christian Fuchs|
Johnny On The Spot: #OURLEADER. Honorary Mancunian Vincent Kompany, the undoubted Maine Man of Manchester City has put his club within touching distance of securing an epic title win…
City piled the overloads on to Leicester from the kick off but were rapidly repelled to the extent that Leicester asserted themselves rapidly. They denied the Blues any rhythm or space and made life very difficult for the reigning champions throughout a testing first half. Clearly Brendan Rodgers had done his homework. They marked and policed spaces with absolute discipline. City’s frustration was palpable and embodied in David Silva dishing out some tough challenges. Nervy City were made to suffer down their defensive left, Zinchenko forced into committing too easily repeatedly.
Bernardo lifted the crowd on the half hour raising the decibels with some super play. The Blues registered a blitz of corners which resorted in a struck crossbar, Schmeichel clawing off the line an Aguero header. The Blues fired in shots and more corners, but could not find the cutting edge required. Tension and anxiety was rife, it was clear that City needed to score with increasing urgency. Vincent Kompany, unlucky to be booked for a strong tackle, was vocal in ordering his side to calm down. The sides went in at half time goalless, the game firmly entrenched in could go either way territory. Referee Dean was offering up nothing to the home side. Destiny still in their own hands, they would have to move the ball much quicker to break down a Leicester side playing with freedom.
The second half opened up in a similar pattern. Roared on by the faithful, City continued to plug away but continued to snatch at their opportunities. Approaching the hour mark City began to raise the tempo. Sané and his artillery entered the fray for Foden who had strived without success. City were finding their stride and Leicester were pushed into defending deep. City began to bang at the door with increasing venom. Leicester were under siege. It was all City, Dean continuing to favour the Foxes who were looking increasingly fatigued but found their feet yet again to crippling City frustration.
Despite carrying lorryloads of experience, City were self evidently feeling the pressure of this unrelenting title battle and an incredible effort across four fronts into April. The Blues were compelled to try to force the ball into impossible areas. Leicester had begun to find a second wind.
Enter the captain. Out of the frustration, on the 70th minute, Vincent Kompany unleashed a net busting howitzer from 30 yards to blast the Blues ahead. The Etihad erupted and rose as one to salute the man who has so often dragged his men over the line whilst in recent campaigns battling over and over again to come back from career-threatening injuries. It was our 100th goal at home this season. An extraordinary feat never done before in the history of this wonderful football club. The atmosphere was electric. Considering the context, the strike was all the more remarkable.
Despite continuing to look tired, Leicester continued to set traps and Rodgers threw more attackers at the situation while City continued to threaten, piling on the corners. A relentless nip and tuck but a much more superior second half performance from Guardiola’s men had given them the edge. Incredibly, Leicester now had five men up front. The message from Pep was clear. City, looking once again the fitter side, MUST keep the ball.
And so it came to pass. Brighton faces an invasion this weekend whilst a legion of utterly crestfallen Liverpool backing hacks, commentators, pundits and shattered fans wonder at what tenuous links they can now attempt to forge with the Seagulls.
Hats off to Leicester. I think they were the best set up side we’ve seen in the Premier League at the Etihad this season. Three up top, spreading the play at every opportunity they went toe to toe with Pep Guardiola’s men, who ultimately delivered another mid-game resurgence worthy of champions.
One more push, Planet Blue.
JB’s Man of The Match: Vincent Kompany. Cometh the hour, cometh the skipper.
Opta Joe Bonus: Man City have beaten every team they’ve faced in the league for the second consecutive season; the only other English top-flight team to achieve this were Preston between 1888-89 and 1889-90. Relentless.