Manchester City took a huge step towards regaining the English Premier League crown with a stunning win over Liverpool at Anfield.
Pep Guardiola’s men visited the home of last season’s champions and put on a show, strolling to a 4-1 victory. That result stretched the Cityzens’ stats for the campaign to 15 wins and five draws against just two defeats. They currently enjoy a five-point cushion over nearest challengers and city rivals Manchester United in second.
That show of strength on Merseyside helped win over any remaining doubters, including traders at the best betting sites for football who moved quickly to slash their odds on Man City to win their seventh English top-flight title and first since 2019.
Persistence pays off
Entering Sunday’s match as the form team of the two, Manchester City were held and frustrated by Liverpool in the opening 45 minutes. But their persistence was to pay off early in the second half. Ilkay Gundogan bagged the opening goal and first of two for the German midfielder when finding the net soon after the restart, making amends for an earlier penalty miss.
Liverpool got themselves level from the penalty spot when star striker Mo Salah kept his cool but a quickfire double from Gundogan and Raheem Sterling put the Cityzens back in control. By the time Stockport 20-year-old Phil Foden slammed home his team’s fourth to cap a man of the match performance the game was over as a contest.
The stats now show Man City remain unbeaten against Liverpool in three games, a run stretching back to November 2019 when the Reds won 3-1 at Anfield on route to banking the Premier League title. With their team sitting proudly atop the table and boasting a strong unbeaten run of form versus the champions, not to mention a winning streak in the league, are we about to see the league trophy packed up and returned to sender?
Man Utd provide a credible challenge
Followers of City dream of seeing their club back at the head of English football but there’s still plenty of football to be played this season. If the Sky Blues are to lift the famous silverware in spring, they must maintain their form to see off an all too familiar opponent.
The resurgence of the team across the city means the title race is likely to go right down to the wire. Manchester United appear to have found their form following years in the wilderness and look every inch a credible challenger at this stage. Under the guidance of former striker and fans favourite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United sit second in the list and are showing no signs of letting up.
The Red Devils won 13 and drew six of their opening 23 games to move ahead of Leicester City and Liverpool into the silver medal position. They lack the consistency shown by their derby rivals this winter but are proving difficult to beat and put together a three-match unbeaten run including a jaw-dropping 9-0 home win achieved over a talented and capable Southampton side in February. United found the net a dozen times in their opening two games of the month, ensuring critics gave their challenge the credit it deserves.
All will be clear when the derby returns
Could we see the old rivals of Manchester City and Manchester United going toe-to-toe and slug it out for the Premier League title? The form of both in the early exchanges of 2021 suggests that’s a strong possibility and the race to the line is sure to provide followers of the beautiful game with a gripping grandstand finish.
We’ll know more about the destination of this season’s title at the conclusion of play on Saturday 6 March with the 184th Manchester Derby set to take place. Etihad Stadium plays host to that one and with the clash beamed around the world courtesy of live television coverage, followers are expecting a thrilling 90 minutes of play.
The current head-to-head stats have Man Utd on 75 wins against the 55 of Man City and 53 draws. Will the dominance of red continue or will fans be singing the blues?
Bolton Wanderers boss Ian Evatt slams Wigan Athletic player for post-match celebrations
Bolton Wanderers manager Ian Evatt has criticised Wigan Athletic following their 1-0 loss away at the DW Stadium on Tuesday night, with a player from the home team’s celebrations sparking a bit of a coming together on the pitch.
Understandably rumbling not only the away support but the players on the pitch, it wasn’t long before individuals began confronting each other, including both Evatt and Latics boss Shaun Maloney, with multiple club staff and match officials needed to separate people and calm things down.
Addressing the furious finish to the game, Evatt said, “We just won’t accept one of their players celebrating in front of our fans” and was also quick to remind the home side that there is quite a gulf between the two sides in the table.
“It’s not acceptable — go and celebrate with your own fans, no problem with that, don’t celebrate in front of ours”, Evatt continued, adding: “You certainly shouldn’t be celebrating when you’re mid-table, that’s what I think”.
Bolton sit joint second in League One on 66 points with an extra game in hand on Derby County above them; meanwhile, the Tics are currently in 13th place having played one more game than their fierce rivals, though they have taken all six points from their two meetings this season.
The 42-year-old head coach went on to admit that he was frustrated with the result and felt “apologetic to the fans” as he felt they and the squad deserved more from the game, insisting that Wigan “probably know they’ve got away with one” and the celebrations merely proved the Trotters were “a big scalp”.
Elsewhere, opposite number Maloney said the result should serve as wind in the sails for his players, telling BBC Radio Manchester: “Tonight was just a real deep desire to not concede, a really strong mentality. It’s definitely a question I’ve put to us as a team and as a group.
“I know we’re really young, we’ve got a lot of academy boys there that have not played a full season before, but I want that mentality and tonight they showed it”, he added — citing Godo in particular as one of the top performers on the night.
Nevertheless, as Evatt hastened to add both in defiance and to quell and simmering derby day hangover amongst Bolton fans, there are still “12 big games” left in the season and it’s his team that is fighting for promotion back to the Championship after more than half a decade out of the second tier.
You can watch the highlights from the fiery clash between Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanders here:
Five-star Haaland: Man City’s striker reminds everyone he’s an utter goal machine
Erling Haaland is well and truly back to business as usual after his five-goal contribution in Manchester City’s 6-2 thrashing over Luton Town.
Fittingly bagging five goals in the fifth round of the FA Cup as the holders cruised into the quarter-finals, Haaland barely wasted any time getting back on the scoresheet as he opened the scoring inside three minutes of the away fixture.
It only took him another quarter of an hour to get his second and while it looked for a brief moment like Luton might have some glimmer of hope after an absolute corker from Jordan Clark, who managed to grab two on the night, the goalscoring phenom managed a first-half hattrick on the 40-minute mark.
Clark’s second came in the 52nd minute to bring the scoreline to 3-2, once again making it look like they might have something to cling on to, only for the Norwegian number nine to resume the annihilation by grabbing his next just a few minutes later and his fifth only moments after that.
While the 23-year-old had looked somewhat off his best over the last few weeks, he did manage to find the net once again in Man City‘s last home game against Brentford and despite striking out against Bournemouth, it looks like the floodgates are once again open.
Fans can argue till the cows come home about the level of opposition and quality of defending on the night, but the reality is that many a team have struggled in the cauldron that is Kenilworth Road and anything can happen in knockout tournaments like this — after all, that’s the ‘magic of the cup’.
Oh yeah, and he broke another record in the process before being taken off — the same thing happened the last time he scored five too. Preventing injuries/preserving players’ energy aside, Guardiola seemingly doesn’t fancy letting him score six for some, even though we all know he would.
He literally could’ve had six but Pep clearly thought five was plenty and subbed him off in the 77th minute, but it goes without saying that the legend in the making regaining his form right before the Manchester derby this weekend only spells disaster for Man United.
The Red Devils looked lacklustre in their previous game at home in the 2-1 defeat to Fulham and they haven’t won at the Etihad Stadium in their last three visits, while the Blues are now unbeaten in their last 18. Sunday is going to be a blockbuster.
You can watch the highlights from Manchester City’s emphatic FA Cup victory over Luton and yet another star showing from Erling Haaland down below: