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Stoke 0 Manchester City 2: David Silva’s Double Edges Pep Guardiola’s Men Closer To Prem Title



David Silva was simply two hot for Paul Lambert’s Potters even on a wet and windy night in Stoke.

It has long been claimed – rather ridiculously – that the acid test for any Pep Guardiola team was the ability to handle a trip to the bet365 Stadium in inclement weather.

Last night City rarely stepped out of third gear yet still swatted Stoke aside with ease, thanks to their little midfield magician Silva.

The 32-year-old was immense as he showed why Guardiola really doesn’t need Andres Iniesta when he still has Silva in mint condition.

The £26million Roberto Mancini invested in 2010 to sign Silva remains one of the biggest bargains City could wish for.

The premature birth of his baby boy Mateo at the turn of the year has seen Guardiola use his midfield ace sparingly at times, as he makes regular trips to his home in Valencia.

However there is a freshness about Silva this season which has resulted in some outstanding performances as he showed with a brilliant goal in each half here.

City have now extended their lead at the top of the table to 16 points and can complete the longest lap of honour in Premier League history if they win their next two games against Everton and Manchester United.

This game was supposed to be a free hit for Stoke.

The problem for Paul Lambert was the same could have been said when the sides last met in October.

Then, with Mark Hughes in charge, the afternoon turned into a shooting practice session for City who gorged themselves, scoring seven goals in a stunning 7-2 win.With just 10 minutes on the clock last night Jack Butland must have feared he had wandered into the same coconut shy, as he was left picking the ball out of his net following City’s first attempt on goal.

Kevin De Bruyne bust a gut to keep the ball in play when he could easily have given it up as a lost cause, so even if he did get a lucky break he probably earned it.

Once the Belgian had recycled the ball, Guardiola’s City slickers moved through the gears with a stunning simplicity as they made scoring look ridiculously simple.

The ball was shifted at pace out of defence and Gabriel Jesus came short to redirect the ball out to Raheem Sterling wide on the right.

The England forward cut inside and proceeded into the Potters’ penalty area before sweeping in a low cross which David Silva calmly dispatched with his left inside of his left boot from six yards.

It was the Spaniard’s third goal in his last four appearances and City’s travelling support sat back and waited for the floodgates to open and for the goals to fly in.

However this is not the same insipid Stoke side who capitulated at the Etihad five months ago.

Back then the Potters were suffering an identity crisis – part Stoke-alona, part relegation fodder as Mark Hughes’ hybrid of a team fell between two styles and ended up a horrible mess.Last night Lambert warned us prior to kick off his side would play ugly if they were to come out of this one relatively unscathed.

If you were being kind you could say the Potters coped with City’s high press better than most in the Premier League.

Last night Lambert warned us prior to kick off his side would play ugly if they were to come out of this one relatively unscathed.

If you were being kind you could say the Potters coped with City’s high press better than most in the Premier League.

If you were being less charitable you would say Jack Butland and his defenders hoofed the ball long at every opportunity to bypass City’s magnificent midfield.

It was a throwback to a previous era in the Potteries but at half-time City were only one to the good.

Hell, the home side even managed to carve out a few chances of their own.

Midway through the first half Xherdan Shaqiri rolled back the years to give a glimpse of his own class when he took Moritz Bauer’s pass in his strife and casually nut-megged Oleksandr Zinchenko.

The Swiss ace pulled the ball back to Badou Ndiaye whose low shot took a deflection off Fernandinho and sped inches wide.In fact if you kept glancing at Stoke’s huge stadium screen you could have been conned into thinking Stoke were carving out chance after chance.

They weren’t – but whoever was in charge of the replays kept showing that rare chance on a loop!

When Fernandinho blazed over from 25 yards just before the half hour mark it was only their second attempt at goal.

However Bruno Martins-Indi caused panic with a short pass back which had Butland haring off his line to clear as De Bruyne closed in menacingly.

The Belgian caught the keeper with his studs on top of his foot but mercifully, for watching England boss Gareth Southgate the keeper’s metatarsal survived any damage.

City came close when De Bruyne whipped in a fabulous free kick which Kompany just failed to get on the end of at the back post.

Stoke were stubborn and almost rattled City before the break as Ederson came to his side’s rescue.

Another Butland bomb was launched deep into City’s half and when Kompany missed his header Kyle Walker stuck out his leg under pressure from Jese and lofted the ball high into the air.For a moment it looked as if it would loop in just under the bar but the Brazilian goalie saved his blushed by brilliantly touching the ball over for a corner.

But for all Stoke’s good work they still had no answer to Silva.

He tied Joe Allen in knots before laying the ball off to Fernandinho, whose rifled shot was brilliantly parried away by Butland.

Then Sane volleyed a De Bruyne cross narrowly wide as Stoke held out until half-time.

But within five minutes of the restart the game was up as Silva settled the outcome.

Once again City’s movement was just too much for Stoke’s defence as De Bruyne played in Silva who instinctively whisked the ball wide to Sterling and burst into the Stoke box.

Sterling repaid the favour with a dinked cross into the middle and Silva beat the advancing Butland to knock the ball beyond the goalie for his second of the night, fourth in four games and ninth of the season.

“We’re gonna win the League,” sang the City fans, who probably know exactly when and where they would like to complete the feat – at home to Manchester United on Saturday, April 7.

Beat Everton in 18 days’ time, when they are next on league duty and they will set up their dream date.

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