Manchester City needed a huge reaction after an unusual performance against Tottenham in midweek. However, against Crystal Palace they were superb and played the game absolutely perfectly.
Selhurst Park is a very nervous and dangerous place to go because many title challenges have ended at this ground, and both City and Liverpool have fallen victims to this. However, the away side played a very strong team because Pep Guardiola respected the danger that Palace could offer.
Kevin De Bruyne started the game superbly as he looked alive and ready to dominate defensively and offensively; he and Kyle Walker linked up well to reduce the main threat of Wilfried Zaha.
The first goal was a masterpiece and one that only De Bruyne can create. He played Raheem Sterling through on goal who finished excellently from a tight angle. Sterling then added his second, just after the hour, from a clever pass from Leroy Sane.
Luka Milivojevic scored a free kick to make the last 10 minutes very nervy for City, but they hit Palace on the counter late on and Gabriel Jesus made it 3-1.
Here’s how I rated the Man City players:
Ederson - 6
Ederson’s passing stood out in particular, because he played some long balls to Sterling. However, I believe that he should have saved the free-kick.
Kyle Walker - 8
This was the Kyle Walker that Man City signed. He was immense, especially when he was able to keep Zaha quiet for the majority of the game.
Vincent Kompany - 7
I predicted him to start because when the game would eventually get tense, Man City would need their captain to calm things down. This is exactly what he did because every ball that came into the danger area he fought for and cleared when required.
Aymeric Laporte - 8
Laporte was another player that stepped up to the pressure. Christian Benteke is an awkward customer therefore he needed to be strong in the air, which he was. However, he gets an eight because his passing was the best I have seen from a centre-back in a long time.
Benjamin Mendy - 6
It is clear that when Benjamin Mendy gets another run of the games in the team he will be a top player. He managed to keep Andros Townsend quiet, whilst also getting forward himself. What impressed me the most was his ability to break the lines like Laporte and Fernandinho do so well.
Ilkay Gundogan - 7
This was the sort of game that Ilkay Gundogan suited because Crystal Palace did not put as much pressure on Man City as predicted. This meant that Gundogan had time to look up and play wonderfully weighted passes over the defence.
Kevin De Bruyne - 9 (MOTM)
De Bruyne showed what he can do when he is determined. He was absolutely everywhere in both defence and attack, helping Walker deal with the threat of Zaha and then playing world class balls to Sterling in order for Man City to open the scoring. Immense.
David Silva - 6
David Silva is still slightly off the boil, but the signs are there that he is still a wonderful footballer. The main highlight of his game today was the turn in the first half on the byline, which almost resulted in a goal.
Raheem Sterling - 9
A close battle with him and Virgil Van Dijk for Player of the year, I stand with my stance that whoever wins their team the league should get the award. However, Sterling came up big when it mattered scoring two crucial goals, the first being an absolute beauty.
Leroy Sane - 7
Sane did something that not many wingers do, and that is complete multiple take-ons against Aaron Wan-Bissaka. He made many delightful runs, but his best contribution was the composed ball across the box for Sterling to finish for 2-0.
Sergio Aguero - 6
Aguero usually takes a few games to get back into his usual form. This was clearly another of those games because he was fairly non-existent. However, he will hopefully be at his best for the important run in.
Sub: Bernardo Silva - 6 (65')
Bernardo Silva was probably subbed on to get some match fitness before the important game against Tottenham on Wednesday. He worked hard and won the ball back in midfield when it was important.
SUB: Gabriel Jesus - 7 (75')
As soon as Jesus came on he touched the ball down, flicked it over his head and played in Sterling. His energy continued and his finished well to kill off the game.
SUB: John Stones - N/A (87')
Stones came on the protect against the predicted aerial bombardment.
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