Sat | Feb 27, 2021

City return to EPL summit

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2021 | 4:22 AM
Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo (centre) celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s second goal during the English Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City at the Hawthorns stadium in West Bromwich, England, yesterda
Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo (centre) celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s second goal during the English Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City at the Hawthorns stadium in West Bromwich, England, yesterday. City won 5-0.

Fuelled by a sparkling attacking display, Manchester City’s players powered to the top of the Premier League for the first time this season – and even the opposition are stopping to admire their work.

In a comical exhibit for VAR’s ever-lengthening highlights reel, West Bromwich Albion’s defenders virtually stopped in their tracks and looked on as Joao Cancelo curled a shot into the top corner for the second of City’s goals in a 5-0 rout yesterday.

After all, the assistant referee had raised the flag for offside moments earlier but City, unlike West Brom, played on as Bernardo Silva collected the ball and fed Cancelo, who – unchallenged –picked his spot from the edge of the area.

A video review showed Silva was actually onside and the goal was allowed to stand. City were on course to match their biggest league win of the season and, on the evidence of this game and the last couple of months, Pep Guardiola’s team is going to be hard to stop.

“Now, with VAR in these situations, we have to follow the actions until the end because you never know what is going to happen,” Guardiola said. “Is the goal allowed or disallowed? Nobody knows. So you have to continue until the end of the action.”

Make it seven straight wins in the league – and 11 in all competitions – for City in an ominous run of results. City became the ninth side to finish a day in first place this season, the most within a single top-flight campaign since 1986-87.

TEAM TO BEAT

Even if Manchester United reclaim the lead today by beating Sheffield United, City – on their longest winning run in more than three years – look to be the team to beat.

Ilkay Gundogan netted twice to make it seven goals in the last eight league games for a midfielder who has never been a prolific scorer in his career but has hit a rich vein of form. Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling set each other up for the final two goals.

Arsenal avenged a defeat to Southampton in the FA Cup at the weekend by beating the Saints 3-1 in the league.

Arsenal came from behind to win for the first time in a Premier League game this season, having trailed after three minutes. Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka replied before halftime, and Alexandre Lacazette made sure of the points with a third in the 72nd.

The win moved Mikel Arteta’s side above Southampton and up to eighth in the standings.