2 Down 5 To Go For Man City

2 Down 5 To Go For Man City

We have been there before, but can we do it again? I believe so! Manchester City had the slimmest of one-point leads over Liverpool coming into the week atop the English Premier League table. According to Pep Guardiola, “they’re so annoying!” I tend to agree. During Pep’s tenure as the manager of Manchester City Football Club, Liverpool have been the annoying thorn in his side and the bothersome splinter in his finger that he just can’t seem to get rid of.

So here we are again. Just like the epic title race of 2018-2019, City had to be perfect in all of their final matches, or else Liverpool were waiting in the brush to pounce on their prey that they had been hunting all season. The Cityzens were game to the task thanks to an improbable clearance off the line by John Stones, a breakaway goal by Leroy Sane, and a longshot goal from distance by their legendary center-back Vincent Kompany. Man City were able to stay perfect and deny Liverpool their first EPL title since 1990 with a celebratory victory over Brighton at the Amex.

City was able to take care of business with their two matches this past week. Dispatching Brighton & Hove Albion with a three-goal 2nd half in their midweek matchup and blasting Watford right from the kickoff on Saturday. The Brighton match got off to a very slow start and the home fans at the Etihad were very tense during the first half and at halftime as their beloved league leaders were off to a sluggish subpar start.

Mahrez was able to break the monotony of the goalless draw by finally breaking the ice with a goal in the 53rd minute, but honestly that opening score came 36 minutes later than it should have. In the 17th minute, Brighton’s keeper Sanchez scuffed a pass from the back that fell right into Mahrez’s lap. City had a 3-on-1 advantage, with De Bruyne and Foden both wide open in the box for point blank shots. Instead of making the right play and passing it to De Bruyne, Mahrez selfishly went for goal himself and the ball harmlessly trickled way wide of the net and out for a goal kick. That was a premium quality chance gone. Mahrez is a ruthless goal scorer at times, but if there’s a flaw in his game, it’s that his nature is to go for the score himself and that selfish nature can sometimes cause him to blow it on great chances where his teammate was in better position to score. Foden and De Bruyne were clearly frustrated with their teammate Mahrez but there was nothing they could do but retreat and go again on the next play.

Sanchez and his backline defender teammates were frustrating City as well as some great shots from De Bruyne, Cancelo, Silva, Rodrigo, and Gundogan were blocked or saved. The breakthrough finally came in the 53rd minute with an amazing build up counter as City were slowly increasing their pressure on Brighton in the 2nd half like a python who has their meal wrapped up. It was just a matter of time before Brighton stopped breathing, were crushed like an aluminum can, and swallowed whole.

Gundogan started the break and Mahrez finished it off with the goal, but De Bruyne was the man who made it all happen as he had to fight off a defender trying to pull him down once he received the pass and crossed midfield. De Bruyne was strong enough to stay on his feet, fleet of foot enough to keep the pace of the break on track, and still skilled enough to get the through ball pass to Mahrez who put it in the back of the net. It was a very similar play to the final scoring chance City had against Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, but this time Mahrez had the better angle and better strike to score the goal. Foden followed up with a set piece goal from a corner that was deflected in for the 2nd goal and some breathing room. Bernardo Silva finished off the final goal with a sweet strike in the 82nd minute started from the amazing press from Zinchenko to De Bruyne who one touched it to Bernardo and finished it with a world class strike. Three points and +3 goals in the goal differential bag.

The 5-1 final score line against Watford doesn’t exhibit the shaky start that City had in the first minute as Sarr was in early for Watford and Zinchenko got caught with a studs up tackle that he was lucky to not get carded for. Sarr was way offsides, so he ultimately was not much of a scoring threat, but the fact that Zinchenko was not carded when he could have been was a big break for the Sky Blues.

This Watford match was all about our Brazilian Buddy Gaby Jesus. He was man of the match, had a hat trick plus one, and became the first Brazilian player to score 4 goals in the history of the EPL. Jesus was ruthless starting in the 4th minute when he took a hard driven low cross into the box from Zinchenko and blasted it into the open net. Gaby made this golazo look easy, but it was anything but. He had to take the venom and heat from the Ukrainian international’s cross and redirect it on target into the net. This feat takes incredible skill from a natural center forward in good form to do. The diving header from Jesus in the 23rd minute was courtesy of a world class on point cross from De Bruyne right onto the head of Jesus.

It looked like it could have been game on for Watford as Kamara cut the lead to 2-1 four minutes later with a nice strike of his own. However, 6 minutes later Rodrigo had a brilliant strike of his own thanks to an amazing pass from Jesus who picked Rodrigo out after fighting to get the ball back from a chance that looked like it had fallen apart. Rodri trapped the ball down with his chest next to his teammate De Bruyne, who was still on the ground thanks to an aggressive tackle from a Watford defender. Rodri converted an amazing shot from outside of the box for a goal of the day nominee and regained the momentum for Manchester City. Jesus then continued his amazing run of play, because 3 minutes later he displayed his strength on the ball to drive by his defender and cutback a pass with pace right to the boot of Raheem Sterling who roofed a shot over the goal that should have been buried for another goal for City and another assist for Jesus.

Nevertheless, Gaby Jesus started off the 2nd half every bit as on fire as he was in the 1st half. He was pressing high and hard and earned a turnover deep in Watford’s end. Jesus transitioned from defender to attacker in one move getting himself into the box for what was going to be a clear goal and the Watford keeper Foster had no choice but to trip Jesus in the box for a clear penalty. There was no chance that anyone, but Jesus would be taking the penalty shot from the spot considering how ruthless he had been on the day with his energetic pressing, assisting, and scoring on Saturday. The brilliant Brazilian cleverly sent the Watford keeper the wrong way and smashed the penalty into the bottom left corner of the goal. Four minutes later Gaby scored again from open play thanks to an amazing move started by Raheem Sterling to De Bruyne and the unselfish pass back from De Bruyne to Gaby who once again buried it for his fourth goal of the day.

City got all six points in their two matches this week and shaved seven goals off the sizable goal difference and goals scored lead that Liverpool have over City in case of a situation where both teams end up level on points after they have both played 38 matches in this campaign. The Cityzens held serve. Back and forth we go with 5 matches remaining until a champion is crowned on May 22nd. City will undoubtedly have to stay perfect and win every match down the stretch just like they did in 2019 to win their 4th EPL championship in the past 5 seasons under Guardiola. For now, we exhale and get ready for the gargantuan task of taking on Real Madrid on Tuesday in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal at the Etihad.

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