In this title competition, Manchester City is still in it and prepared to fight to the bitter finish.
Pep Guardiola’s champions are doing enough, but Newcastle threatened to change the outcome at the Etihad and Arsenal is still dominating at the top of the standings. In their 2-0 victory over one of their fiercest opponents, there was enough talent, spirit, and determination to suggest that the Blues have finally found the form they spent two months searching for.
After three weeks on the road, City made it home to the Etihad, and they might finally be at the beginning of a run of form that could lead them to a trophy. This season’s prior outcomes indicate that it is yet too early for them to Foden was expected to continue this trend against Newcastle after impressing against Bournemouth and then dominating against Bristol City. He paid for that decision within the first 15 minutes. He entered the box after a lovely turn that allowed him to get past Dan Burn’s long, flailing arms. Bruno Guimaraes and Anthony Gordon both attempted to get the ball, but they were only able to knock it back into Foden’s path. Foden’s right-footed shot nicked off Sven Botman and went past Nick Pope and into the Newcastle goal.
For the third game in a row, the game got off to an early start, which was all the more significant given how quickly the visitors might have gotten going. Newcastle threatened from a corner in the early going, and Ruben Dias made a crucial header.
Newcastle continued to be a challenge for City, as both Callum Wilson and Sean Longstaff missed excellent scoring opportunities in the first half. But most importantly, City was producing at the other end.
Jack Grealish and Foden both tried their luck as City discovered that their greatest form of defense was attacked. Erling Haaland should have buried a header that Kevin De Bruyne put on a plate for him six yards away. The offensive play was exactly what they needed earlier in the year despite their defensive fragility.
The smallest details were what really mattered. The evidence of speed and intelligence that had vanished around the time Guardiola started his “happy flowers” rant included De Bruyne clapping the crowd on his way to take a corner to energize them, Haaland’s superb touch and link-up play to keep himself involved in the game, Walker’s awareness to take a quick throw-in, Ederson’s ambition to command his area, and Dias’ enthusiasm to energize his teammates.
Yet the larger things also contributed. Shortly after Foden had opened the score, Nathan Ake made a goal-saving block to keep Longstaff from scoring. To suggest that offloading Joao Cancelo at the time appeared to be such a dangerous move The team has been in fantastic form since Joao Cancelo was let go at the end of January, and the full-back almost likely would not have been in the position Ake was in to block the shot. Gary Neville remarked this week that it will be remembered as one of Guardiola’s biggest mistakes.
Then there was Foden, showing that he can be the match-winning player the team lost when their form declined without him by equaling his best-ever tally of Premier League goals with his ninth of the season. To maintain their title push, Arsenal has received plaudits for signing Jorginho and Leandro Trossard, but a young Foden and an experienced Ake might help.
The group accomplished what they were unable to do against Nottingham Forest versus Newcastle. Further opportunities for the opposition appeared because they usually do, and around the hour mark, Eddie Howe made three replacements, which led to Joelinton missing a prime opportunity before Dias, Ederson, and Ake combined to stop Alexander Isak.
As Bernardo arrived, Guardiola urged him to put his bib back on before replacing De Bruyne with him. The Portuguese international made it 2-0 and considerably less exciting in less than two minutes.
Grealish carried the ball inside before sending it to Haaland, who flung the ball into Bernardo’s path and he blasted it past Nick Pope. That was also the exact type of game management.
Although playing a side known for wasting time, City maintained excellent game control throughout the whole match. Haaland played successive short corners from Grealish against a defenseless Newcastle man to assure a grueling conclusion for the black-and-white jerseys. The Norwegian was enjoying his position at the corner flag, playing to the crowd after each corner.
Despite the attention that Haaland draws, maintaining a Premier League championship defense for City was always going to need a collective effort, especially while facing an Arsenal squad that has achieved such a high peak this season. To maintain their championship fight, Arsenal has been lauded for signing Jorginho and Leandro Trossard, but the emergence of Foden and Dias since the transfer market closed and the improved contributions of everyone else around them have provided a similar boost.
The team’s post-game embrace in a huddle revealed a lot about the current energy driving City to their goals, while the fans’ screams for the manager signaled a triumphant return for everyone to the Etihad. City triumphs