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12 Dec 2017 07:57
Nicolas Otamendi scores the goal that may have handed his team the league. (Reuters)
Manchester City’s victory at the home of closest challengers Manchester United left them a yawning 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League table and almost out of sight of the chasing pack.
Set-piece goals from David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi earned City a 2-1 win Old Trafford on Sunday and prompted even United boss Jose Mourinho to say the title race was “probably” over with five months still to go.
The records and superlatives pile up week after week for Pep Guardiola’s multi-talented team.
Their 14-game winning streak in the Premier League is the most by a side in a single top-flight season and strikingly their 46-point total after 16 games was enough to secure eighth spot in the Premier League last season.
City’s date at Old Trafford on Sunday was seen as a last chance for United to inject some life into the Premier League race but Mourinho’s men failed their big test, conceding nearly 65 percent possession on home turf.
It is difficult to see where City are going to slip up as they have already beaten both defending champions Chelsea and second-placed United away from home.
Former England captain Alan Shearer said he cannot see anybody catching Guardiola’s men, even though we are still in mid-December.
“There are still five months of the season to go, but the title race is over—I do not see anyone stopping Manchester City from winning the Premier League now,” Shearer wrote on the BBC website.
“It was not just the result the leaders got at Old Trafford on Sunday that was significant, it was the way they got it too. They were totally dominant, and fully deserved their 2-1 win.”
And Shearer was struck not just by the result but by the style with which it was achieved.
“People have been talking for a while now about whether there has been a power shift in Manchester, and on Sunday it was there for everyone to see.
“For United to play the way they did, sitting deep and kicking it long with City controlling play, showed how times have changed at Old Trafford.”
Former United and England defender Gary Neville said City were on a “different level” from United.
“It’s tough to do what City have done today, to go to Chelsea and play like they did and come here and play like they have, showing authority and confidence,” said on Sky Sports.
“The goals were scruffy and Jose won’t believe they’ve conceded two goals from set pieces, but not many teams have come here in the last 25 or 30 years and dominated like that.
“You are talking about Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Not many teams come here and do that.
“Seventy thousand United fans have walked out of there today thinking the best team have won.”
Mourinho conceded City would take some catching but he could not resist a dig at his rivals.
“Manchester City are a very good team and they are protected by the luck, and the gods of football are behind them,” he said. “They are lucky, they have decisions in their favour.”
Guardiola was more circumspect, saying: “You cannot be champions in December.”
The City boss is clearly keen to avoid complacency but it’s almost impossible to see a slip-up of the magnitude that would allow his rivals back into the title race.
It may be over already. – Agence France-Presse
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