Manchester City

Run-away leaders Manchester City ground out a 2-1 win over West Ham, after European exertions in Budapest with Borussia Monchengladbach. That marks 20 wins in a row, four off the 18 they set in the league, as they now sit 13 points clear atop the standings.

The Premier League leaders made seven changes in a rotated lineup with Fantasy Premier League stalwarts João Cancelo, Phil Foden, and Raheem Sterling dropping to the bench.

West Ham capitalized on the slackness of pressing by City’s ‘second-choice’ front trio of Riyad Mahrez, Ferran Torres, and Sergio Aguero to counter Pep Guardiola’s men repeatedly. Jesse Lingard was a key cog in this tactic as he broke at speed alongside Michail Antonio.

David Moyes’ high-flyers recorded the same number of shots on goal as their hosts (three) and had two more clear-cut chances. But the Cityzens are on a different rhythm at the moment.

Betway Nigeria

Gulf in Class

Man City kept their hosts at bay despite conceding a first open-play goal at home since September. The winner came from a crisp John Stones finish, a fellow unlikely source as the first goal.

Kevin De Bruyne laid the opening goal on a plate for Rúben Dias’ first in sky blue with a delightful cross with his left foot. That assist took him to 77 in the Premier League, and into the top ten on the all-time list.

He is now only three behind David Beckham, the Man United legend who took 95 more games to reach his total.

Astonishingly, City’s centre-back pairing of Dias and Stones have now scored more goals (four) than they have conceded (two) in their last 16 games together.

The match-winner reflected on their goalscoring exploits.

“We try and chip in and everyone’s out there working hard,” Stones told the club website. “Sometimes it doesn’t come off for the striker but today me and Rúben chipped in.”

Home Safe

Their defensive partnership has been the bedrock of City’s redemption and eventual title charge, it is fitting that they scored to seal their 20th straight win and Guardiola thinks it could be their greatest achievement together.

“It is so difficult,” said Guardiola. “To have 20 wins in this period, I think this could be the greatest achievement we have done.

“It doesn’t mean we have won the title of course, but in winter time in England, every three days a game, COVID-19 situation, injuries… winning, winning, winning shows strength, mentally.

“Every person who saw the game today knows it was really tough – the opponent is incredibly difficult.

“So a big compliment to West Ham – after 26 games they are in the Champions League positions and that is because of a lot of work.”

Ruben Dias and John Stones
Dias and Stones have created a formidable defensive partnership. (Getty Images)

Man City’s defensive revival was the main catalyst for the team’s sudden improvement after a rough start to the season left them ninth. The new-found confidence at the back has allowed their exceptional forward players to pass teams to submission, with Cancelo’s inverted fullback role a key balancing act. 

With their current winning run in all competitions featuring 51 goals scored and seven conceded, 19 different players have scored for City in 2020/21 and this title story could truly be Guardiola’s greatest fairytale.

With even goalkeeper Ederson assisting a goal in recent games, City are going to win each of their enormous resources.

Just days after defending his club’s spending power with needing exceptional players to maintain great title-winning teams, Guardiola’s men have shown just that on the pitch


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blog Meets Brand