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Manchester City

Manchester City close in on title after brushing aside feeble Stoke City

Manchester City have one hand on the Premier League title after victory on Monday night.

Martyn Cooke

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Photo: Getty Images

So that answers that question then – Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team can handle a dark, cold and wet mid-week fixture against Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium.

Not that the result of this game was ever in doubt.

Manchester City are undoubtedly one of the best club sides in the world at this present moment in time and arrived in ‘The Potteries’ 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.

It was little surprise to see them nonchalantly brush aside Stoke on Monday evening courtesy of two goals from David Silva and, in the process, increase their lead over second-placed Manchester United to 16 points.

City now require just three more wins to confirm the title and are on course to break the 100-point mark.

Guardiola’s side were dominant at the Bet365 Stadium and continued to produce the breath-taking football that has characterised their season. It is the perfect mixture of pace, precision and technique and Stoke quite simply did not possess the quality, confidence or character to muster a challenge.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

This was procession more than it was a contest and Manchester City were not required to get out of first gear.

A trip to ‘The Potteries’ used to spark fear into the hearts of opposing players – facing a Stoke team that was characterised by discipline, hard-work and an up-and-at-‘em approach that was backed by a passionate home crowd – but on Monday night all of the above were lacking. The players were lethargic on the pitch and the home supporters were apathetic in the stands.

Paul Lambert and his side appeared content to lose the game as long as the scoreline was kept respectable and it was clear from the first whistle that the Potters were in damage limitation mode.

Stoke failed to muster a shot on target in the entire game and there was no purpose, urgency or direction to their play. They offered little defensively either. There was no attempt to press the visitors or ruffle their feathers, demonstrated by the fact that only Joe Allen picked up a yellow card, and the sight of Manchester City stroking the ball around unopposed at walking pace will have been a demoralising sight for the locals.

Yes, you have to acknowledge that Manchester City are good, very good in fact, but the way that the hosts simply rolled over without a fight was indicative of a campaign that will possibly result in their relegation.

Wigan Athletic, Burnley and Basel have all demonstrated since Christmas that Guardiola’s side are far from invincible, yet the Potters opted to wave the white flag from the onset.

Lambert certainly has a task on his hands at the Bet365 Stadium if he is to guide the club to safety. A predictable loss to the champions-elect will not define their future, but the upcoming home fixture against Everton on Saturday certainly will. Stoke supporters can only hope that their team shows more character, fight and direction at the weekend than they did on Monday.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

For Manchester City, the Pep Guardiola football revolution continues to roll on. The focus now for City will be to wrap up the Premier League title as soon as possible so that additional emphasis can be placed on progressing to the latter stages of the Champions League.

Beyond this season, the future continues to look bright.

Guardiola’s squad consist primarily of young starlets or players that are in their mid-late twenties and are at or just entering, the peak of their powers.

Raheem Sterling (23), Leroy Sane (22), Bernardo Silva (23), Gabriel Jesus (20), John Stones (23) and Ederson (24) are all under the age of 24 whilst  Kevin De Bruyne (26), Kyle Walker (27) and Sergio Aguero (29) have yet to hit their thirties.

The Premier League must now face up to the prospect that the current crop of Manchester City players, under the guidance of one of the best coaches of the modern era, have the potential to dominate the domestic scene for the foreseeable future.

If the runaway train is to be stopped, teams will have to demonstrate a much more positive attitude and a desire to compete than that shown in the performance by Paul Lambert and his players on Monday evening.

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

Manchester City

Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy can break 15-year Premier League assist record

The Frenchman has been exquisite so far this season.

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Benjamin Mendy
Photo: Getty Images

Having missed the majority of last season through injury, Manchester City full-back Benjamin Mendy has been like a new signing for Pep Guardiola’s side this season.

Joining from French Ligue 1 outfit Monaco for £52 million two summer windows ago, in the opening weeks of the 2018/19 campaign he is already proving just how important he will be in his side’s title defence this season.

The Frenchman is absolutely key to Pep Guardiola’s style of play. His pace, power and energy enable to him to single-handedly dominate the left flank and he is always getting himself into excellent attacking positions.

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

In just two Premier League games, the World Cup winner has recorded an impressive four assists, and could really have had two more had the statistical decision makers been more generous.

His underlying numbers show he has completed five key passes, while he has fired an impressive 18 crosses into the opposition penalty area.

Playing almost as a left-winger in a City side that is capable of scoring endless goals, the possibilities are endless for the former Monaco man this season.

If he is able to maintain his current level of performance, there is no reason to suggest he cannot beat the all-time Premier League assist record for a single season, currently 20, held by compatriot Thierry Henry (2002/03).

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Cardiff City

Premier League Team of the Week II: Featuring Manchester City and Chelsea favourites

Who made The Boot Room’s Team of the Week for Game Week Two?

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The Premier League action continued with a flurry in Game Week Two as Manchester City stole the headlines, reclaiming their spot at the top of the Premier League table with a 6-1 thumping of Huddersfield Town.

The weekend also saw wins for Chelsea, who made it two victories from two, and Leicester City, despite being reduced to 10-men, while Cardiff emerged from the early kick-off on Saturday with a point after a 96th minute penalty save to ensure a goalless draw.

Following the weekend’s fixtures, The Boot Room picks its six-a-side Team of the Week.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Cardiff City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge claims his place between the sticks after his heroics against Newcastle United. After a string of first half saves to deny Rafa Benitez’s side, he then saved brilliantly from Kenedy’s penalty to ensure the Bluebirds secured a point. This is the second time in as many weeks that the Filipino ‘number 1’ has denied an opponent from the spot, following his success against Bournemouth‘s Callum Wilson in Game Week 1. Newcastle marked a well-deserved clean sheet for 28-year-old, who is quickly proving his worth to Neil Warnock’s promoted side.

(Photo by Manchester City FC/Man City via Getty Images)

In defence, Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy features after his influential display against Huddersfield. Not willing to allow his attacking teammates to claim all of the plaudits, the Frenchman’s marauding performance down the left flank proved a thorn in his opponent’s side from start to finish. So prolific was he, down the left hand side of the pitch, that he picked up two assists and could have had several more, such was his involvement in the final third. While this wasn’t a display of text book defending, his contribution cannot go unrecognised.

Under Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso has been required to play a more disciplined role than the Spaniard is typically used to. Nonetheless, while he is continuing to adapt to playing in a back four, and looking a little exposed defensively at times, his attacking instinct have shown no signs of letting up. The Spaniard showed good awareness to pick out Pedro for Chelsea’s opening goal against London rivals Arsenal, before showing composure to score the winner with the score tied at 2-2.

(Photo by Manchester City FC/Man City via Getty Images)

City’s David Silva has always been an absolute joy to watch and it was no different on Sunday. Making his 250th Premier League appearance – becoming the only the fourth Spaniard to reach said milestone – the 32-year-old ran the show from a central midfield position. Providing a match-best six key passes for his Manchester City teammates, Silva also had the chance to enjoy his own moment in front of goal, firing in a superb free-kick which beat the opposition ‘keeper at his far post.

(Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images)

Leicester City’s James Maddison looks as though he has played in the Premier League throughout his entire career. The 21-year-old, former Norwich City man has fitted seamlessly into Claude Puel’s side and already looks a player worthy of building a team around. In his favoured ‘number 10’ role he grabbed his first top flight goal against Wolves on Saturday, while weighing in with an all-action performance to ensure the 10-man Foxes didn’t let slip their two-goal lead.

(Photo by Manchester City FC/Man City via Getty Images)

City’s hat-trick hero, Argentine striker Sergio Aguero was a shoe-in for the Team of the Week after his display against the Terriers. The 30-year-old looks hungrier for goals than ever under Pep Guardiola and he repaid his manager’s decision to pair him alongside Gabriel Jesus with a clinical performance. City have only played three games this season and, already, Aguero has five goals to his name. After long-awaited knee surgery at the end of last season, he could be set for a remarkable, record-breaking season.

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Manchester City

Five facts to takeaway after Manchester City blew aside Huddersfield

Sergio Aguero lead Manchester City’s demolishing of Huddersfield on Sunday.

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Photo: Getty Images

Sergio Aguero scored his 13th Manchester City hat-trick as the champions continued their strong start to their title defence by thrashing Huddersfield 6-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

Benjamin Mendy was against excellent for the hosts, weighing in with two assists, while Gabriel Jesus, David Silva and an own goal from Terence Kongolo rounded off the scoring.

The result puts City back at the top of the Premier League table after game week two, with a goal difference of plus seven.

Here, we take a look at five of the best statistics from Pep Guardiola’s side’s impressive victory.

Constant threat – Guardiola’s side attempted 14 shots on target against Huddersfield, more than they managed in any Premier League game last season.

Ederson turns provider – With his assist for Sergio Aguero’s opening goal of the afternoon, Ederson became the first Manchester City goalkeeper to assist a Premier League goal.

The Magician turns in 250 – David Silva became the fourth Spaniard to play 250 Premier League games, after Cesc Fabregas, Jose Reina and Mikel Arteta. To mark the occasion, he created six chances against Huddersfield, the joint-most by a player in a single game in the English top flight this season.

Hat-trick hero – Sergio Aguero has now scored nine Premier League hat-tricks – only Alan Shearer (11) has scored more in the competition’s history.

Home comforts – Following his hat-trick, the Argentine has now scored 14 goals in his last eight Premier League appearances at the Etihad Stadium.

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