KEY MO­MENTS

The National - News - - FOOTBALL SPORT -

1. Manch­ester City 1 Ever­ton 1, Au­gust 21

It is easy to for­get that Ra­heem Ster­ling did not start the sea­son in the City side. The winger came on at half time in the sec­ond game with City re­duced to 10 men by Kyle Walker’s con­tro­ver­sial red card. City trailed for an hour be­fore Ster­ling lev­elled. With­out that, they would not have gone un­beaten un­til Jan­uary.

2. Bournemouth 1 Man City 2, Au­gust 26

An­other Ster­ling late show, an­other dis­missal and more con­tro­versy. City trailed again but Ster­ling grabbed a 97th-minute win­ner and a 99th-minute red card for cel­e­brat­ing with the crowd. His Au­gust an­tics meant that, whereas City may have only mus­tered four points from their first three games, they took seven.

3. Man City 5 Liver­pool 0, Septem­ber 9

The score­line was em­phatic. The piv­otal mo­ment was Sa­dio Mane’s first-half red card for catch­ing Eder­son in the face with a high boot. Leroy Sane’s brace was a sign of how dev­as­tat­ing he can be, and af­ter only two wins against the top seven last sea­son, this showed City’s for­tunes were chang­ing rapidly.

4. Wat­ford 0 Man City 6, Septem­ber 16

It was not merely the mar­gin of vic­tory, dur­ing a run of three wins by an ag­gre­gate score of 16-0, or Ser­gio Aguero’s hat-trick, or the 28 shots. It was the re­al­ity that they won af­ter a mid­week Champions League game, an­other is­sue for them last sea­son. It was also their first league game this sea­son play­ing 4-3-3.

5. Chelsea 0 Man City 1, Septem­ber 30

A sym­bolic top­pling of the cham­pion thanks to the out­stand­ing for­mer Chelsea player Kevin de Bruyne curl­ing in a bril­liant win­ner. It was also the first game of Fabian Delph’s suc­cess­ful con­ver­sion into a left-back.

6. Man City 2 Southamp­ton 1, Novem­ber 29

Him again. Eight days af­ter Ster­ling’s

88th minute win­ner against Feyeno­ord, three af­ter his 84th-minute de­cider at Hud­der­s­field came a 96th-minute beauty. Besides pro­vid­ing fur­ther proof of Ster­ling’s sub­stance, that run of vi­tal late goals – David Silva got an­other four days later against West Ham – showed City’s spirit and fit­ness.

7. Man United 1 Man City 2, De­cem­ber 10

Jose Mour­inho con­ceded United’s ti­tle hopes were “prob­a­bly over” af­ter City ended a 40match un­beaten home record to go 11 points clear. Pep Guardi­ola ap­pre­ci­ated the sight of his small side scor­ing twice from set-pieces, cour­tesy of David Silva and Ni­co­las Ota­mendi, but his side still needed Eder­son to make a bril­liant dou­ble save from Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata. It high­lighted the dif­fer­ence the sum­mer sign­ing has made in goal.

8. Man City 4 Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur 1, De­cem­ber 16

Tot­ten­ham in­flicted City’s first league de­feat last sea­son. There was no re­peat. Besides the statu­tory Ster­ling late goals – two of them – De Bruyne pro­duced an­other mas­ter­class. He scored a won­der­ful goal, Dele Alli re­sorted to the il­le­gal to try and stop him and Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino’s at­tempt to halt City with a di­a­mond mid­field failed.

9. Arse­nal 0 Manch­ester City 3, March 1

Vin­cent Kom­pany thought it would be the tough­est test of City’s sea­son. Arse­nal, he rea­soned, would be out for re­venge af­ter Guardi­ola’s men won the League Cup fi­nal four days ear­lier. City were with­out the in­jured Ster­ling, Fer­nand­inho and Ben­jamin Mendy and the banned Delph. They surged into a 3-0 lead in 33 min­utes. Game over.

10. Manch­ester City 1 Chelsea 0, March 4

Chelsea’s in­cred­i­bly neg­a­tive tac­tics were a sign of how City have de­mor­alised their ri­vals. The lead­ers’ mastery was ap­par­ent in the way they com­pleted a Premier League record 902 passes, with Ilkay Gun­do­gan re­spon­si­ble for 167 of them. Bernardo Silva scored the win­ner to put City 18 points clear and all but seal the ti­tle.

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