Manchester City edged closer to cementing a top-four spot as they beat Crystal Palace 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City currently sits in third place, thanks to last night’s win, and Crystal Palace border dangerously close to relegation, with just six points ahead. The club endured a rather humiliating defeat, which must’ve been a bit unexpected, considering how they pulled a shock win against Liverpool.
David Silva gave City its lead hardly two minutes into the game, making it City’s fastest goal this season. In the second half, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Nicholas Otamendi followed suit and picked up a goal each. Aided by two brilliant assists, City’s defenders Kompany and Otamendi too joined the party.
Guardiola’s men are now four points ahead of Manchester United in the race for the Champions League qualification spots. They dominated this game from the start, while Palace just seemed to give up after a point.
City should not have any trouble retaining a top-four spot now, thus making something out of an otherwise average season for the club.
Lets get on to the talking points:
David Silva’s underrated master-class
Most of the attention was on Kevin De Bruyne, and rightfully so, as he played to perfection and picked up the Man of the Match award.
However, there was one player who quietly played a master-class game, and even scored the first goal for City – and that is David Silva. What makes his performance even stellar is the fact that he was not even fully fit on Saturday and had to come off in the 68th minute, which might’ve come as a relief to Palace.
David Silva has now been involved in more Premier League goals since 2011/12 than any other midfielder.
34 goals ⚽️
57 assists 🅰️
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 6, 2017
The visitors were struggling to contain the Spain international as he caused pure mayhem.
Guardiola had his men line-up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Silva spending most of his time playing as a No. 10, right behind Gabriel Jesus. Silva decimated Palace’s holding midfielder Luka Milivojevic, and he took up dangerous positions as he flitted in and out of the lines, while passing to his team-mates.
He scored and also set up several chances. Silva has had a superb season, but it still feels like he doesn’t get the kind of credit he truly deserves, especially after so many seasons.
Crystal Palace’s defence looked helpless
To be fair, Sam Allardyce did not have much of a choice in the first place, considering how Mamadou Sakho, Scott Dann and James Tomkins were all injured and had to sit out of this game. Having said that, it still doesn’t make any sense as to why he left a natural centre-half like Damien Delaney on the bench.
The Eagles began playing in a 3-5-2 formation. Andros Townsend was at right-back, Patrick van Aanholt on the left, and Joel Ward, Martin Kelly and Jeffrey Schlupp in the middle. If you really think about it, Allardyce had a back five made up of three full-backs and two wingers.
Obviously that did not work out, and Palace looked rather shaky from the start. Allardyce noticed that and pushed Townsend ufpfield after the first 12 minutes and switched to a 4-3-3. However, even that failed to stop City’s attack from tearing them apart.
Although it seemed like Manchester City were the better team, Crystal Palace could’ve stopped these goals, if only they tried. Townsend did not track Sterling’s movements for the first, while Kelly’s header put the ball on a silver plate for Silva; Kompany was in a lot of space for the second; Wayne Hennessey could have kept out De Bruyne’s effort; Van Aanholt lost Sterling for the fourth; and almost the entire team failed as a whole to prevent Otamendi from adding another one during stoppage time.
Manchester City established a good dominion over the game right from the start
This performance was ranked as one of the best by several fans on Twitter. The biggest problem that City faced all this while was a lack of control over the game. More often than not, City allowed a game in hand to slip away, which did not happen much when Guardiola was in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
The best example of such a match is their 2-2 draw with Arsenal. City were strong for the first half an hour, but then gradually declined in form, allowing Arsenal to get back into the game.
In this game, Palace barely enjoyed any possession in the first half, but did do moderately well when they engaged in some counter-attacking moves. Christian Benteke even got close to scoring an equaliser, but was stopped by the defenders.
After the interval, City established greater control and barely let Palace get out of their own half. They pushed back and Palace struggled hard to do well defensively. Moving forward from this, if City can play like this next season, they can become strong title contenders.
Wilfred Zaha’s one-man army against Manchester City
Zaha was always considered to be one Palace’s key players, but there’s only so much one man can do against a full team. It was a tough situation, but Zaha should deserve credit for the way he kept trying to do something against a team who were simply superior in all aspects.
Zaha led his side’s counter-attacks extremely well – he challenged City on several ocassions, but then his final pass let him down.
He was still effective at giving City something to worry about defensively. It has been reported that Tottenham Hotspur have been targeting the 24-year-old, who might be offered a new contract by Palace this summer.
A move to Manchester United earlier did not work out for him, but he might be looking to move to one of the bigger clubs, if he gets an opportunity to do so.
Both teams have something to learn from this game
This victory puts City in the driver’s seat to finish third, thus giving them a coveted Champions League spot. City only has games against Leicester City at home, West Bromwich Albion at home and Watford away on the final day, so it shouldn’t be much of a challenge for them.
However, Guardiola and his men must not get complacent at any cost. If its one thing that the Premier League has taught us, its that anything can change at any point. Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal are all still fighting it out for a spot, and City may need to win all three upcoming games to ensure they don’t slip below.
Palace, on the other hand, have still not assured themselves of a spot in the top flight next season, and are still close to relegation. They meet Hull City at Selhurst Park next weekend, and that match can be crucial for them to guarantee survival.