Manchester City replaced Liverpool at the top of the Premier League after Bernardo Silva and Leroy San scored in a 2-0 win at Manchester United
Every season there is always one game in the title race when the team who are going to win the Premier League know it is going to be their year. One game when everything turns in their favour, all the hard work comes together and the supporters can think it is going to be a season to cherish.
For Manchester City, was this that night? It certainly felt that way even if they still have to negotiate a tricky assignment at Burnley on Sunday before closing their season with a home game against Leicester and a trip to Brighton. City have made it 11 league wins in a row and if they can extend that sequence to 14 there will be nothing Liverpool, in second place, can do about it. No wonder there was such jubilation at the final whistle from the players in blue.
Pep Guardiola wanted to emphasise there was still the potential for another late twist. All the same, it was difficult to leave Old Trafford without thinking City had struck a decisive blow courtesy of the second-half goals from Bernardo Silva and the substitute Leroy San.
They had won at Old Trafford for the sixth time in eight visits. It was a seventh defeat for Ole Gunnar Solskjrs team in their past nine games, as well as being the first time United have failed to score in three successive games since October 2015, and it means no other away side in the Premier League era can match Citys haul of seven victories at this ground.
Ultimately, the only statistic that really mattered was that the reigning champions had moved a point clear at the 35-game mark. Liverpool had been displaced at the top of the table and that, for United, can be the only consolation on a night when the away end was determined to rub it in. Oles at the wheel? The wheels are coming off, was one gloating cry, amid all the victory songs from the corner of Old Trafford accommodating Citys supporters.
From that point of view it was certainly an unusual occasion bearing in mind the politics, divisions and sporting enmity that exists, at varying levels, between the two Manchester clubs and the one from Merseyside. Were there United fans feeling compromised and secretly rooting for City in preference to helping Liverpool to their first championship for 29 years? The equivalent, say, of a fat lip rather than a black eye and a blow to the solar plexus?
The answer, undeniably, was yes. Yet the noise inside Old Trafford was of a crowd who wanted to put one over their neighbours and let the rest take care of itself. Solskjrs players did at least show they understood what it meant to pull on Uniteds colours and for that alone it was a much improved performance than Sundays 4-0 defeat at Everton. That, however, can hardly soothe their disappointment when the second half was such a stark reminder of their shortcomings. This time it boiled down to an imbalance of talent and, for United, facing up to the difficult truth, namely that Guardiolas men play a style of football that they dearly wish could be their own.
True, City had found it difficult during a first half when United had played as though affronted by the statistic that in 15 of their previous 17 Premier League matches the opposition had run further.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us