FA Premier League
Referee: Martin Atkinson of West Yorkshire
|Crystal Palace||Manchester City|
|Milivojevic (81')||Sterling (15', 63'), Gabriel Jesus (90')|
|31 Vincente Guaita||31 Ederson|
|29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka||2 Kyle Walker|
|34 Martin Kelly||4 Vincent Kompany|
|6 Scott Dann||14 Aymeric Laporte|
|3 Patrick van Aanholt||22 Benjamin Mendy|
|18 James McArthur||Sako 85'||17 Kevin De Bruyne|
|4 Luka Milivojevic||8 Ilkay Gündogan|
|15 Jeffrey Schlupp||Kouyaté 22'||21 David Silva||Bernardo Silva 65'|
|10 Andros Townsend||Meyer 77'||7 Raheem Sterling|
|17 Christian Benteke||10 Sergio Agüero||Gabriel Jesus 75'|
|11 Wilfried Zaha||19 Leroy Sané||Stones 87'|
|2 Joel Ward||3 Danilo|
|7 Max Meyer||5 John Stones|
|8 Cheikhou Kouyaté||20 Bernardo Silva|
|13 Wayne Hennessey||26 Riyad Mahrez|
|14 Jordan Ayew||30 Nicolas Otamendi|
|23 Michy Batshuayi||33 Gabriel Jesus|
|26 Bakary Sako||49 Aro Muric|
Johnny On The Spot:#BACKINTHEGROOVE. Technically brilliant and tactically astute, Pep Guardiola’s men gave their season a massive shot in the arm with a timely win at Selhurst Park, often the graveyard of title aspirations.
Cross-field ball expert Aymeric Laporte signalled the champions’ intent in London by hitting Raz Sterling with laser directed diagonal passes on 3 occasions within the opening 5 minutes. Looking extraordinarily flat, Crystal Palace coughed up possession regularly throughout the first half and looked to all intents and purposes, there for the taking.
The deadlock was broken on 15 minutes when a brilliant pinpoint pass inside the full back from the bullish Kevin De Bruyne into Sterling was thrashed into the net past a floundering Vincente Guaita for the England striker’s 20th goal of the season across all four campaigns. A measure of how far Sterling has come under Guardiola’s leadership is that after this match he has now been directly involved in 55 PL goals in 62 appearances since the start of last season (35 goals and 20 assists). He was involved in 53 goals in his first 6 PL seasons combined, in 159 appearances.
Despite the by now customary wasting of corners and an uncomfortable degree of profligacy, City looked good in all areas, their balance and rhythm unquestionable throughout a dominant first half display. Palace for their contribution, with only 4 wins from their previous 16 games at Selhurst Park which included a poor 13 goals scored seemed more focused upon leaving nasty challenges in on City players left right and centre, all unpunished by referee Martin Atkinson.
The second period saw the contest continue the pursuit of De Bruyne patiently driving his side onwards with well timed tackles while Roy Hodgson’s men huffed and puffed, spearheaded by Christian Benteke who sports no goals this season, 3 last season and no goal in open play at Selhurst Park for 2 years. In fairness to the hapless striker, the midfielders behind him are positively pedestrian. Benteke’s fellow Belgian De Bruyne told the hacks last week that he won’t be playing at his best for the remainder of the season. Was this kidology because he was magnificent today indulging his team mates with a sparkling range of world class passes.
Suddenly, with 9 minutes remaining, the dopey concession of a dangerous free-kick by Ilkay Gündogan who had been publicly critical of his side’s mental approach at Tottenham in the Champions league gifted Luka Milivojevic a goal.
Consequently we were now game managing with wholly unnecessary unease.
Whilst Pep calmly introduced John Stones into midfield, De Bruyne was having none of it. Picking the ball up in defence as the Eagles spirits were soaring, he skipped past flying challenges and carried City forward 50 yards to win a throw. Not long after that he led the charge that resulted in Jesus’ winner which was lapped up by City’s rocking away support.
JB’s Man of The Match: Kevin De Bruyne. His stellar performance can be best summed up by his creation of Sterling’s opener. To look up, spot the run and produce a pass like that, all in the space of a few seconds, was quite remarkable.