EPL

Premier League Review: Silva hat-trick in Man City romp, Blades stun Everton

By Sports Desk September 21, 2019

Manchester City claimed their biggest-ever top-flight victory with an 8-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday to move within two points of Premier League leaders Liverpool thanks to Bernardo Silva’s hat-trick.

A 3-2 defeat away to Norwich City last time out had raised questions about the hunger in Pep Guardiola's squad, but they responded with a brutal dismantling of the Hornets on home turf.

Liverpool will restore their five-point cushion at the top if they beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with Leicester City two points behind Guardiola's side after a 2-1 win over Tottenham.

In the day's other matches, Burnley moved up to seventh with a routine 2-0 home win over Norwich, while Everton lost 2-0 at home to Sheffield United.

DEVASTATING CITY BACK TO THEIR BEST

City's defeat against Norwich at Carrow Road had been their first since January, but any concerns it was anything more than a minor blip were pointedly answered by Guardiola's men against Watford.

The swagger with which City brushed aside Watford to take a 5-0 lead inside 18 minutes was a reminder of the defending Premier League champions' quality and ruthlessness.

David Silva opened the scoring in the first minute of the game and that was followed by a Sergio Aguero penalty six minutes later – his 100th league goal at the Etihad Stadium.

Watford's defenders were left in a daze by City's slick interchanges as three goals – scored by Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo and Nicolas Otamendi – blew the visitors away.

The second half could have been something of an anti-climax, but Bernardo notched his hat-trick before the sensational Kevin De Bruyne rounded off the scoring.

LEICESTER FIGHT BACK DESPITE VAR

Mauricio Pochettino's 250th Premier League game in charge of Tottenham ended in defeat as his side's away day blues continued at the King Power Stadium in a match dominated by VAR.

Spurs have been memorable beneficiaries of the VAR review system in draws against Manchester City – most famously in a dramatic climax to their Champions League quarter-final second leg last season.

However, when Serge Aurier's goal was disallowed at the King Power Stadium because of the tightest of offside decisions against Son Heung-min when they were 1-0 up thanks to Harry Kane, it took the wind out of their sails.

Leicester were re-energised and after they equalised through Ricardo Pereira they took all three points thanks to a sublime low strike from James Maddison.

The Foxes themselves had earlier been denied a goal when the score was 0-0, after Wilfred Ndidi bundled in from close range only for it to be chalked off by VAR for offside against Ayoze Perez.

BLADES SLICE THROUGH TOFFEES

It was a tetchy day at Goodison Park as Everton suffered back-to-back defeats in the Premier League against newly promoted Sheffield United.

An own goal from Colombian defender Yerry Mina, who headed in an Oliver Norwood corner, came against the run of play, but the Toffees were unable to find a way back despite long spells of pressure.

When Lys Mousset slotted in his first goal for the Blades with 11 minutes to go it was start of grumbles from the Everton fans about whether Marco Silva is the man to take them forward as they started to stream towards the exits. They became boos when the full-time whistle was blown.

Chris Wilder's side, meanwhile, leapfrogged the Blues into the comfort of mid-table.

CLARETS ENJOY HOME COMFORTS

Burnley's ability to punch above their weight in the Premier League in recent seasons has been largely down to their impressive results at Turf Moor. 

A typically dogged and disciplined display from Sean Dyche's men secured another three points and lifted them up to seventh in the table.

Victory was secured thanks to two goals in four minutes from powerful striker Chris Wood, as Norwich failed to hit the heights of their previous win over Man City.

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  • Pep Perfect second goal shows Manchester City back in the groove Pep Perfect second goal shows Manchester City back in the groove

    Bernardo Silva had just set up the opening goal for Manchester City with a sumptuous cross – a suggestion that last season's form might be starting to return.

    But this was no time for the Portugal playmaker to rest on his laurels and he set about harassing Crystal Palace left-winger Jeffrey Schlupp, whose pass towards the danger zone where specialist centre-backs should reside was intercepted.

    Rodri's outing in the heart of the City defence was unexpected and frequently uneasy during the early stages at Selhurst Park. A slip momentarily left Wilfried Zaha unattended before a rushed, hacked clearance went unpunished.

    Pep Guardiola deployed his two defensive midfield commanders. Rodri and Fernandinho, in defence due to Nicolas Otamendi joining Aymeric Laporte in the treatment room and John Stones not yet being match fit following an ailment of his own. City entered the field eight points behind Liverpool in the title race, with the decision not to replace Vincent Kompany starting to look season defining.

    But if being the last line of protection against attacks does not come naturally to Rodri, he specialises in starting them. His interception from Schlupp doubled as an expertly cushioned pass to David Silva and City were away.

    Kompany's successor as club captain deposited the ball at Kevin De Bruyne's feet in unfussy, one-touch fashion. Where the 2-0 loss to Wolves played out under a fug of doubt and laboured decision making, the whirring cogs of Guardiola's machine were clicking into place.

    De Bruyne promptly pushed down the accelerator, powering through midfield. The Belgium star, who did not start either of City's league defeats in the opening eight games, had already proved a menace to Palace. His twinkling triangle on the right flank alongside Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo providing a persistent first half threat.

    A great gift of De Bruyne's, a player on record as saying her prefers assists to goals, is he knows when to slip from leading man to supporting character. He found the opening goalscorer Gabriel Jesus.

    The Brazil striker's scruffy diving header a little over a minute earlier was his fifth in as many starts for City this season. But the presence on the bench of club-record goalscorer Sergio Aguero – a man not so clinical behind the wheel on the road to training going off this week's evidence – means Jesus must always strive, always prove himself and always make the decision to please his manager.

    A pass to the buccaneering Benjamin Mendy was just that. Fit again, for now, the left-back and his ravaged knees provides Guardiola with an extra dimension he will need if a third Premier League title in succession can be achieved despite early arrears.

    Mendy's touch was heavy but he was fortunate to see the ball fall to Raheem Sterling, Manchester City's sure thing.

    Goals 12 and 13 of the season for club and country came as England routed Bulgaria in midweek, Sterling revelling in tormenting those who send vile abuse his way.

    An inspirational figure with improvement still in him – as evidenced by a couple of second-half attempts against Palace – Sterling's chipped pass over the top of the home defence was a string on his bow drawing the sweetest sound.

    It was a pass worthy of David Silva, who on this occasion watched the whole picture unfold and found himself on the end of it. For all their discomfort over the early weeks of this campaign, operating without their long-time creator and magician will really sting City this time next year.

    His clinical over-the-shoulder volley through Wayne Hennessey's legs was equal to many of his finest moments over a wonderful decade in the Premier League and crowned a little masterpiece. 2-0 was enough for the three points.

    Second-half wastefulness and Ederson's athletic stops from Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha showed City will have to be sharper in their next Premier League away game. That's at Anfield next month, but after talking about putting his players in the fridge over Christmas, Guardiola will have seen enough in a cool, calculated gem of a goal to suggest there is life in this title race.

  • Guardiola wants to see a more clinical Man City despite coasting at Palace Guardiola wants to see a more clinical Man City despite coasting at Palace

    Pep Guardiola thinks Manchester City can still be more clinical, despite seeing his side produce a largely comfortable 2-0 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

    Gabriel Jesus and David Silva scored within 93 seconds of one another with the first half drawing to a close at Selhurst Park, the second a particularly fine effort as Raheem Sterling producied a memorable assist.

    In truth, City might have been far more comfortable winners, with Sterling, Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne guilty of missing presentable second-half chances.

    "We enjoyed the second goal - it was nice. But in the Premier League we have to score the third and fourth because it was difficult in the end with the pressure," Guardiola told BBC Sport.

    "If [Christian] Benteke scores to make it 2-1, then it's difficult. The only problem is we could not score the third one. We deserved it but have to be more clinical."

    City produced a fine riposte to a 2-0 defeat at home to Wolves prior to the international break to cut the gap to Liverpool to five points ahead of the unbeaten Premier League leaders' trip to Manchester United on Sunday.

    Guardiola hopes the victory is the start of another run for his defending champions.

    "Hopefully we can start from here and continue our good performance," he added. "Their keeper made a lot of saves but hopefully we can be more clinical."

    City started the match with a makeshift centre-back pairing of Fernandinho and Rodri, who performed well at the heart of the visitors' defence.

    He said: "Our build-up was quicker because they have more intelligence and they pass the ball so well because they are central midfielders.

    "The season is too long, everybody is going to play. It's another option we have."

    Roy Hodgson had no qualms over the result but rued the fact Palace conceded the goals in such quick succession.

    "I thought they worked unbelievably hard, we came across a Man City side in top form, I thought their pressure was excellent they gave us literally no time on the ball whatsoever," he said.

    "It was unlucky the two goals came so close after the other, had we got in 1-0, who knows? I've no complaints over the result. 

    "I'm proud of the way we kept fighting, we never dropped the heads or gave up and could have come up with a goal on our sheet."

    Benteke almost brought Palace back into the game with his first touch, but saw his thumping header brilliantly tipped on to the bar by Ederson as his wait for a maiden Palace goal of the campaign continued.

    "It would have been a great moment for him. It was such a good header and I don't know how the keeper kept it out," Hodgson added.

    "I was thinking, 'Oh great, Christian's got off the mark with a great goal against the champions'. But hopefully he can still take confidence from that and take that into the next games."

  • Jamaica mourns as former daCosta Cup player murdered Jamaica mourns as former daCosta Cup player murdered

    The Jamaican football fraternity was plunged into mourning earlier this week when a former player from Cornwall College, a dominant team in the country’s rural area schoolboy football competition, the DaCosta Cup was murdered.

    Dead is 22-year-old Leonardo Murray,now a customer service representative on the Western side of the island, Montego Bay.

    According to reports, Murray was in a vehicle that was sprayed with bullets, killing him and injuring a 36-year-old woman who is set to surivive the attack.

    Another former Cornwall College student, Craig Oates, remembers Murray, otherwise known as ‘Nardo’, as a talented player and wondered about somebody killing him.

    “It is yet another sad chapter in the life of Montego Bay. It is hard to understand why anyone would kill a promising youngster like this,” said Oates in The Observer, a Jamaican newspaper.

    According to eyewitness reports, Murray was in a Toyota Voxy when another vehicle pulled up beside it. A man exited the vehicle and fired a number of rounds before the Voxy drove off and crashed.

    The shooter, apparently hopped back into his vehicle and drove away.

    The police were called and found Murray and his female companion suffering from gunshot wounds.

    The two were rushed to the Cornwall Regional Hospital where Murray was pronounced dead and the woman was admitted in serious condition.

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