Date: 5th March 2017 at 6:07pm
Written by:

With Chelsea not due to play until Monday evening, the weekend was about the chasing pack trying to reduce the points gap in the hope that West Ham might provide them with an incentive as the winning post is almost emerging in sight.

First up were the Stretfords who, although not really title contenders in the eyes of anyone other than Moaning Maureen, failed to beat 10-man Bournemouth in a match that looked more like the undercard for the Haye-Bellew boxing match which took place later last evening. Hopefully the ghastly thug formerly known as Ibrahimovic will be meted out the type of punishment that the Premier League, promoted by Sky Sports News couldn’t wait to dish out to Sergio Aguero.

Sue’s Liverpool only sentenced her to the bedroom for part of the second half before effectively relegating Arsenal from their perennial top four position, easily despatching them 3-1.

Arsenal’s north London neighbours just about edged it past Everton to stake their claim, leaving only City to close out the weekend against bottom-placed Sunderland. This type of fixture has traditionally been a Premier League banana skin for City, although it was clear that the Black Cats line-up was more geared to defence than offence, their talisman Defoe looking like the only offering in terms of goalscoring.

Pep had his usual defensive reshuffle with Bravo and Otamendi consigned to the bench and Zabaleta left out the squad along with Garcia who was omitted in favour of Yaya. De Bruyne, not at his best in recent matches was also benched as Silva returned to complete the 3S midfield along with Sane and Sterling. The Mighty Atom himself was to be the lone ranger up top.

For their part, Sunderland have once again been reduced to maintaining their place as a retirement home for Stretford has beens in the shape of O’Shea and never was-es in the shape of Januzaj. Add to that the recent insurgences from Moyesouts old club, Everton, Oviedo and Gibson who doubles up as another ex-Stretford it is little surprise that they find themselves almost anchored at the foot of the Barclays Premier League.

But fair play to the men from Wearside. With City stacking up the possession statistics, the first two chances came their way. The first inevitably from Defoe which hit the post and the second, a header from a corner which Caballero dealt with well.

City looked like Sue on a house-cleaning mission, wasping around everywhere except where it counted in the opposition penalty box which in fairness was too often overloaded with red and white stripes. Aguero found it difficult to find space despite the promptings of Silva and Yaya, but almost every time Sunderland recovered the ball they gave it away again as the Blues piled on the pressure. City’s approach work was second to none but it was that final burst that was absent for most of the first half until Aguero struck incisively.

It was pretty much similar fayre in the second half as Sunderland tried their best only to find themselves being given the runaround by a Blues team that is back in its stride. It was only a matter of time before City added to the scoreline and on the hour it came to pass when another precise move from back to front in seconds ended in the back of the Black Cats net.

Fernandinho carried it from midway in the City half and straightened up with a pass to Sterling who immediately brought in Silva. As the defence melted away giving Silva far too much space, the Magician spotted Sane’s run and played it directly into his path – the German drove it across Pickford and in off the far post.

That City didn’t go on to get a bagful might have looked like a mystery, but Pickford made a superb save from Aguero late on then Silva. De Bruyne, when he came on and Aguero all could’ve clocked up the goals. But three points and no injuries looks a reasonable return on the day’s work.

Silva was easily man-of-the-match although the pace and power of Sane and Sterling were never far away and the newly-evergreen Yaya really did knit it all together. The backline didn’t really look troubled although Defoe did get the ball in only to be ruled miles offside as City’s line held and pushed out.

Now six points in front of Stretford’s finest and the Ashburton Grove Bottling Factory now look to be yesterday’s news as far as the title chase is concerned. The Stretford Thursday Cup looks like their best route into the Champions League as only Roma, with Edin Dzeko scoring every week, look to be a threat.

Stoke arrive at planet Etihad on Wednesday, no doubt ready to give the Blues a kicking.

 
Click for the forum