The FA’s latest ploy to deny Manchester City supremacy fell flat on its face at the National Stadium last night.
On a playing surface that was more Hough End than the Etihad, the Blues returned with a full bag of points, but not without a scare or two.
The first scare was for the welfare of the playing squad. The field looked just like that after the gruesome gridironers ploughed it from all sides leaving their lines all over the place, their total disregard down the sides and a set of tram tracks down the centre as all of their game is played down there to make it easy for them.
Guardiola said his side would just have to get on with it but as the match progressed City were faced with the double jeopardy of Spurs getting a point and the potential for player injury.
Despite a valiant effort from toothless Tottenham, City squeezed through by the only goal, but what a goal. It could have been right out of the American Football copybook. Quarterback Ederson, found his wide receiver, Sterling who rounded the corner back Trippier before sliding the ball across to the opposite wide receiver Mahrez who fired home a shot of beauty…touchdown Man City.
City clearly dominated proceedings in the first half despite the conditions. In the end quality shines through, but after a series of howlers from Aguero, Silva and Sterling, the game became more finely balanced in the second half especially when Spurs finally found a way through City, despite them parading 3 centre backs by then and Lamela, a dangerous customer at the best of times couldn’t emulate Mahrez and fired into the crowd. It was a relief for Guardiola who will be glad to see the back of this fixture.
Kyle Walker did nothing to suggest to watching England manager Gareth Southgate that he should become a more permanent international fixture, having probably his worst game for City. Harry Kane did nothing much to impress either. His only clear-cut chance was taken early and also ended in the grades. John Stones, however, was a different story. Playing alongside Aymeric Laporte in a “future is now” pairing, he was simply majestic. City’s other England offering Raheem Sterling clearly scared the life out of Walker’s nemesis, Trippier especially in the first half, but in the end, it was game City deserved to win and in doing so restored themselves to their rightful position at the head of a difficult Premier League.
The Scousers don’t get it, do they? Even dear Susan told me “We’re still joint top with you”. And then they showed the table which evidently displays the fact that a goal difference of 24 is better than one of 16. Sorry, Susan, we’re top of the league, not joint top.